Kindness

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind ~ I Know It’s Over, The Smiths

It was World Kindness Day a few days ago – I know this because my colouring app told me and gave me a couple of bonus pictures to celebrate. Which was very nice but it also got me thinking about true kindness. Is it possible to be kind all the time? Is there a certain level of kindness you have to hit before you qualify as a proper kind person? And what about kindness to yourself?

You see? It’s a lot to think about and I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. It’s just sometimes I find myself wondering, when I’m promoting kindness to others (via the medium of meme) – and walking around with the lyrics from the song quoted above tattooed on my arm – whether I even qualify.

I think generally, most of us are decent at the core but all of us could stand to be kinder. Even if all that means is keeping an eye out for the dude you sit next to at work, or asking a crying stranger if they need anything.

I wonder all the time whether I’m a decent person, sometimes I truly believe I’m not. Kindness is something I aim for every day but there are always obstacles that derail my intention. Like someone being a know-it-all brings out my decidedly unkind side.

I recently made a new friend who it turns out might not be my cup of tea after all – and I know my pulling away has been confusing and possibly hurtful for them. I haven’t been horrible but I feel really guilty about the situation, like maybe I need to make more effort – except I’m not sure I have it in me mentally to just ignore my instincts.

What I don’t understand is how easily we’ll think about others and ignore our own needs. Being kind to ourselves counts. And all this is just a delicate balancing act.

I say be kind wherever possible and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it 24/7, you’re not a Stepford Wife. As long as you’re not going out of your way to be a mean bitch and you’re not hurting anybody, you’re doing okay. As with most things, intent is key. We can all strive to be good people and for the most part, I think we are.

Keep an eye out for those around you, do a good deed every now and again just for the hell of it – it is honestly way more satisfying to put good out into the world than bad.

So happy belated World Kindness Day.

How’s it going?

Dip

Ah, the monthly dip appears to be here, the one in which I question why I bother with anything and what my purpose on this earth even is. The one in which I wonder if I really am the worst person in the world.

Sometimes I think maybe if I were I would worry less and be freer, so unencumbered I would be with other people’s opinions and feelings (*cough cough* Trump). I often wonder if it would be that easy, to just choose to be a different person and GO.

Probably not but maybe one day I will shrug off the shackles of being me and find a new way to live. Dramatic, aren’t I?

I’m in the habit of working and coming home at the moment. Call it the winter blues but one day blends into the next and I’m not inspired. I feel ogre-like. I’m bored.



I can’t even be bothered to take selfies of my new pink hair, it’s that drastic. I should be out and about frolicking in the fallen leaves and worshipping the late Autumn sunshine but I can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I’ve finally watched too many horror movies/listened to too many true crime podcasts.

Maybe I’m broken.

Maybe I’m a normal girl.

I will fix all of it but this is where I’m at today. And oh yes, my period is just around the corner.

I’m sure there’s absolutely no connection between the two.

 

Elixir

A little real talk today because what’s scarier honestly than the human psyche? Amirite?

I want to talk medication because it’s a topic on my mind a lot lately. Years and years ago, while I was still a sixth form student, I had a job in an old people’s home. I worked for The Chans who were hard but ultimately kind bosses, and they taught me an awful lot.

A little while after I started work there our clientele started to change and they came with (sometimes serious) mental health issues. I had no training at all beyond the domestic and it could be a very tough place to be at times. Many of our residents suffered from schizophrenia and other severe disorders, and as far as I could see apart from the medicine, they weren’t getting a lot of support.

They were for the most part lovely people and I still think about some of them. I never felt uncomfortable except around one disgusting man who used to grab the girls’ around their waists and pull them onto his lap. I always refused to go into his room alone.

Photo by The Tonik on Unsplash

Anyway, there was always talk about how, when the residents started to feel better, they would sometimes stop taking their medication. You could see evidence of this and it came in cycles but I never really thought about it in much depth. I was a teenager then, only concerned with boys and going out, mental health wasn’t really on my mind despite me being surrounded by it.

I think about that experience much more now and the feeling better conundrum is a huge part of it because now I do it myself.

I can be very bad about keeping up with my meds. During a good period it’s easy to forget to take your pills because you don’t feel like you need them anymore. Lately I’ve been so focused on the Wicca stuff that I’ve slipped again.

I’ve been feeling much more grounded and sure of myself – and deep down I guess I’m still not over the feeling I’ve failed at being a ‘normal person’ who doesn’t need to be medicated. Rationally I know this view is bullshit, it’s internalised shame and when I’m thinking straight that thought would never occur to me. About myself and certainly not others.

There’s no real point to this post other than to be frank. Of course the groundedness hasn’t lasted, I had a panic attack and now I feel like I’m right back to square one. Balance is difficult.

But it’s something I need to get right. Life is wonderful in many ways and I want to enjoy it as much as I can without fear and paranoia so I need to work it out. Wicca and medication might end up being the perfect elixir, we’ll have to see.

All I know is that this condition is part of me and it won’t just go away like a headache.

The Cringe Factor

Yesterday I was reminded of one of the single most embarrassing things I have ever done.

Many, many, many years ago when I was about 13 or 14, I was standing in the headmaster’s office being reprimanded for something, I forget what now. I say that in a casual way as if to suggest I was an edgy bad girl but the truth is, I was probably being lectured yet again about not applying myself enough. The same headmaster would later shout at me in front of everyone in the corridor that I had a bad attitude and would be lucky to get a job in a shop if I didn’t buck up my ideas.

Anyway, during this no doubt yawnworthy dressing down, the phone rang on his desk and to this day I have no idea why but I picked it up. I’ll recap that last bit for you:

I…PICKED. UP. HIS. PHONE.

Like, I picked up his landline phone and said “Hello?” into the receiver before I, and indeed he, realised what I had done. I can’t remember what happened afterwards because the ground literally split in two and I fell through it to the core of the Earth where I was burnt to a crisp with shame. And I think he was too shocked to really bollock me so I got off quite lightly.

I have no idea why this particular memory has risen to the top of my consciousness now (I do know and I’ll outline it below*) but it has been quite amusing to revisit. I mean, I was a dork at school and that action is almost too sassy for its own good. What the hell was going through my head?

Anyway, it’s got me to thinking about all the horribly cringeworthy things I have done in my life and how they knit together to form the person typing this post. I’ve been a dickhead a lot but I suppose I wouldn’t change a thing because these stories are the ones that make people laugh.

If I hadn’t once walked into a wall and knocked myself out in front of my college crush to the point that he had to physically catch me, would my life have turned out different? Probably – but I don’t think it would have been as good as this one and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.

Now please tell me your most cringey anecdotes? I need to know I’m not alone.

*I accidentally signed off a phone call with our security guard with “I love you”. EEEEK.

Life Update: September Edition

I thought I’d free flow a life update because I don’t really do that enough – and even though I often struggle to think about anything interesting I’ve been doing, that’s not really the point. We’re being real here and have to learn to take the mundane with the exciting.

So… how the fucking fuck is it already not just September but MID September? This year has flown by. I mean, I’m not too mad when Autumn is unfolding before me and The Best Month Ever™ is just round the corner but you know what I mean. Where does the time go, etc., etc. It is actually frightening how quickly the days slip through our fingers but then again what isn’t terrifying at the moment? October may celebrate the spookiest holiday but we’ve got a Brexit deadline looming and I can’t deny I’d rather take on Fred Krueger than leave the EU. At least Freddy doesn’t extend his intention to slash you in your dreams for months on end. At least Freddy isn’t a Tory.

I didn’t come here to talk shakily about politics though, don’t worry. I’m merely saying that there’s discourse in the air and no amount of burying my head in the sand is going to change it – I’m scared and we’re fucked. But being fucked can bring positivity – it means we focus on the things that really matter such as loved ones and down time – and new shampoo. I’ve just bought a new one from Herbal Essences which is made with bourbon and Manuka honey. How lush does that sound? I can’t wait to soak it into my frizzy head tonight.

I’m currently reading Agatha Christie to usher in the colder nights and it’s the perfect combo – the deep conditioner, the book and the hot bath. These are the simple things that bring me joy and make me feel grateful I have the basic things we need to live. These are the photogenic self-care acts that we all talk about on social media. These are the things that help but aren’t the ultimate cure because we all need more than expensive bubble bath and crime novels. We need love and understanding and space and time – but it’s a start.

I’ve dragged myself over the coals quite a lot already this month. I’ve as usual taken on too much and failed at everything (in my head) so I’ve had to really assess my extra-curricular activities and chop a few things for a while. The podcast for example is now on hold until the New Year – after which we might bring in back in a different guise. I’m sad not to be doing it right now but I’m also excited for the future. The Wicca is my main focus at the moment. I’m really enjoying reading and getting into it – no spells yet but I’m desperate to get cracking on them. The diploma is going well and so far I am at 100% grade. Again, I know the real learning is off book and in the real world – and that the rest of my life can be dedicated to honing my skills and living my best witch life.

In the New Year I am also going to start looking for something new to do for a living. I have loved my current job and get to work with a plethora of incredible people but I’ve just celebrated my second year and I’m starting to feel uninspired. All in all things are okay and when they’re not I have an idea of how to make them better. I can’t complain, I have everything I need.

How are you?

One Reason Why

TW: Suicide

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo, How to Kill a Rock Star

Yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day and I wanted to put something down as this is a topic after my own heart. There are many shocking stats about suicide in the UK that you can read about here, I won’t add to that myself. I just wanted to acknowledge this day and maybe share a little.

I learned a bit about suicide this year during my Mental Health First Aid Training. The course was given by a suicide survivor, an incredibly vibrant man who couldn’t have been more candid about his experiences. He spoke openly (and sometimes with genuine humour) about why he’d wanted to take his own life, what might have stopped him and his thoughts on it now – and it was fascinating. Surprising too, when you consider how outgoing and seemingly bright he is. This just goes to show that it isn’t always obvious what people are going through, or the kinds of people who are affected by suicidal thoughts.

Of the people on that course, there were at least a handful that had first or second-hand experience of suicide – and all their stories were heart-breaking and very raw. Honestly, I don’t think I had any idea of what something like that can leave in its wake and the repercussions seem endless. My eyes were opened by that course and I feel as though maybe I worry more about people I care about now. I’m hyper conscious of friends who seem down but sometimes I’m clumsy about how I go about making sure they’re okay. The right words don’t always come easy because it’s a massive thing to talk about – but I think it’s fine just to ask someone if they need anything.

Way back during my darkest period this was definitely something I considered. If I’m honest there just didn’t seem to be a reasonable way out. I didn’t believe I could just say ‘enough’ and be allowed to leave our home. In the end it turned out to be quite easy but I’d been beaten down so much mentally that I hit a wall and for a long time I felt dead already. I just wanted it to be over, once and for all.

In the end it was friendship that saved me. I met a group of people who wanted me to be okay and they’d make sure I was, daily. I found a tiny sliver of hope and that was enough to acknowledge that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my life to fear. I’m lucky and although I still have dark thoughts, I know what I need to do if it feels like too much.

Suicide has always been stigmatized. I no longer think a person is selfish or cowardly if they take their own life. I just think it’s sad and I wish that they could have found another way. It’s not for me to judge but I do want to be there for my loved ones or anyone who feels they need help. We can all be kinder and more observant, it doesn’t take much . We need to check in with our friends, family and colleagues.

And if you’re going through Hell, there are ways to help yourself. The Samaritans for one are an amazing organisation and they’re there 24/7, 365. Most workplaces have an Employee Assistance Programme or can offer you additional help too. It can be hard to ask for help, I completely get that but I hope you find a way to. It can change everything.

Samaritans

Web: https://www.samaritans.org/
Call: 116 123 (free)
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Or drop into your local branch

Résumé
Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”
~ Dorothy Parker, Enough Rope

How are you?

Period Power

This week has been a bitch, 100% that bitch. Monday at work was like the opening of Saving Private Ryan but with more middle-aged women wanting to speak to the manager – and it was downhill from there. Well until about Thursday.

I took time out from pretty much everything to heal myself. I indulged in my favourite fantasy – me, a lightly packed holdall, a Greyhound bus and a new town in which to start over (a la Julia Roberts in Sleeping with the Enemy). I ate what I wanted, watched a fuck ton of Buffy and spent time with my man.

By Thursday I was pretty much back in the game but for a moment there I felt like this was it. The week that would break me. My anxiety has been through the roof, I’ve been second guessing every single life decision I’ve made since I was 24 – wondering if I really know who I really am and if anyone really loves me. Just the small stuff, you know.

I’ve been questioning everything basically and it’s been doing my head in. The friends I’ve told have been gorgeous and kind – utterly destroying the notion that there’s nothing good in my life.

And then… I got my period and everything made sense again. Like, oh… So that’s why. Got you.

Until next month, I guess.

Hello September

I thought I’d freestyle my first post in September. I’m pumped for Autumn as you know but this week took a nosedive in the form of some stomach whirling self doubt and I need to let it out. Then let it go.

I know I’m a normal woman but sometimes in the dead of night, negative thoughts swirl round my head like bats and I forget that. I feel like the walls are closing in on me and they’re a metaphor for time and achievement. I’ve achieved nothing and will amount to nothing, that sort of thing.

I vow all the time to kick this kind of thinking but it has a habit of creeping up on me in my lower moments. I guess nobody is immune. Obviously I’ll be okay, probably as soon as this has been posted, I’m good at recognising what I need and being kind to myself. Nobody’s nicer to me than me but I think it’s important to record these feelings too.

I sometimes hate everything about myself, all the snivelling, the hesitancy and the way I let life scare me. My lack of ambition and my laziness. The stupid things I’ve said and done, all the wasted time and the half-finished next big things. I was supposed to discover a hidden talent by now, be brilliant at one incredible thing. Maybe change the world in a small but crucial way.

I know this is anxiety talking. That these mean words come from a condition that thinks it deserves to take centre stage all day, everyday. It can kick up a stink as much as it likes but now I let it go. At the core of it all I love myself and that part of me is way stronger.

So, nice try fuck face but you’ll be getting no further screentime from me. I’ll be enjoying my Sunday safe in the bosom of my loved ones. What have you got?

I also choose to count today as the first day of Autumn because I deserve nice things – and so do you.

Happy Autumn all! 🍁🍃🍂

Amazing Grace

I don’t do enough freestyle posts and I think it’s a shame. When I first started blogging it was very personal, almost like a diary of what I was doing on the daily. At least once a week I thought it would be nice not to overthink things and just go with what I’ve been up to.

Lucky for us I actually went out at the weekend for a change and have something of note to report! I also hung out with the one and only Grace Jones. Well, if you don’t count the hundreds of other people between us. More on that later.

This weekend was Brighton’s own version of Christmas: Pride. The build-up to this weekend has always been immense. All the shops, bars and restaurants put on their rainbow clothes and the whole city is swathed in colour. It never looks better than it does right now.

This year the festival welcomed Kylie (the original and best Kylie OBVIOUSLY) and the crowd went wild. The parade too was a raging success – and I avoided them both completely. I just couldn’t bring myself to take on the crowds this year but I did have quite bad FOMO. Pride has been such massive part of my personal history and memories. This was cured by Sunday and the LoveBN1 Festival, to which I won tickets at work (for this piece).

Honestly, I was in two minds about handing the pair of tickets over to someone less hermit-like but I knew my friends Matt and Helen were going so I tagged along with them. I was promised a much more chilled day that the carnage of Saturday – and that’s exactly what I got. The headliner was Jessie J, an artist I’m not that into (Helen loves her) – but who turns down the opportunity to witness the OG Grace Jones in such a setting? Not this guy!

Along with the House Gospel Choir (who were wonderful), Grace was the highlight of the day and maybe even my year so far (along with Neneh at the Roundhouse). Honestly, I thought I knew what to expect but I really had no idea – she must hail from another planet. She’s absolutely stunning and I loved her set. Admittedly, I wasn’t that familiar with her back catalogue but it’s right up my street, very reggae inspired. She was also a total wit, demanding wine from an assistant, changing outfits on stage while chatting to the crowd – and being scandalous in front of the children (she said, if any of the kids ask if she’s a man or a woman to “tell them I’m a woman, wearing a man” and came out wearing a strap-on).

She hula hooped for the last number which I believe was Pull Up to the Bumper. Basically, she is the ultimate queen and I’m forever obsessed.

Pull up to my bumper baby
In your long black limousine
Pull up to my bumper baby
And drive it in between ~ Grace Jones – Pull Up to the Bumper

Anyway, we had a great time. It was so chilled out, just the three of us. The drinks flowed and it didn’t rain too much – all was full of love. I feel so lucky to have both of them in my life – they inspire me to be freer and do more interesting things but I can also totally be myself with them both. You don’t get that every day.

Now it’s Monday afternoon and I’m still feeling slightly delicate from yesterday. My body aches from the walking and the dancing, I’m sooo tired – but I feel good.

I feel great actually – just like Grace.

How was your weekend?

Only the Lonely

It’s the weirdest feeling in the world to be surrounded by people and still feel out of sorts – and dare I say it: lonely.

I mean, it’s not a particularly cool thing to admit is it? And when you think of the word it conjures up something unsavory, like a shrew-like old woman emptying the contents of her near empty fridge and sharing it with ten cats. As if that sounds like an unhappy life.

I do feel it though and it’s not as though I don’t know I’m loved. I’m so lucky but I can’t help feeling alone sometimes. It usually hits me when I’m in big groups – and honestly if life were a movie, in my mopey moments the rain would start and I’d be gazing out of a window, listening to Dido or some shit. Sometimes I’d be in a Greyhound bus.

I think this is my anxiety sending me exaggerated messages. I love my own company but when I feel low I question everything. Do my friends actually like me? Am I too old for them? Do they pity me? Am I a joke? Am I a burden?

I wish I could pause my brain when it’s fucking me around like this. What I have is amazing and I need to shut the hell up. Feeling this way is probably just part and parcel of being hormonal and in need of some time off work.

Loneliness is no joke though and it’s part of the reason I started saying yes to more sociable activities. I know not everyone has the same choices. Now more than ever perhaps the horror club needs it’s first meeting.

Do you ever feel like this? How do you combat it?