A-ha! And not in the band way…

It’s been seven days since I wrote my last blog post, the first time I slipped up in a month of writing this. Oops. It’s partly because I’ve been too busy, using every moment to push my life forward, and partly because when I’ve sat down to write, I haven’t been able to meaningfully vocalise the last, goodness, has it only been a week?

I’ve had a few a-ha moments in that time. That Ted talk I linked to in my previous post, well, I re-watched it when I was in a different mood. Instead of all the scary things that stood out to me from the beginning of the speak (how my generation is wasting their twenties, how I’ve not really done anything since I left university, etc.) my listening ears made it all the way through to the end, where she’s talking about the importance of using this time for self-development, now that marriage, career and everything seems to be happening later. My first a-ha moment was to calm the hell down, because hey, I’m doing that development stuff, I am working towards being the person I want to be. The video did inject me with a sense of urgency and purpose, but also it calmed my panic and helped me to focus much more clearly on the things that I want to do and to achieve in life.

The second a-ha moment was when I was curled up on my sofa mindlessly and pointlessly putting off the time I have to go to sleep. I was idly up-sizing my dreams in my mind – how big an outrageous could I make them? Could I really do something like that, in that place with all those adults? It hit me like a slap to the face. I’m an adult. I have every right to live and operate within the “adult world”. I’m allowed to be here, and to do those brilliant, outlandish things that the people I admire do to achieve their success. I’m in the big leagues now, an adult. I need to be doing this stuff to and I can do this stuff too. There is no big angry person waiting to slap me down if I try things, and there’s no gate-keeper going to turn up and hand me an invite, no matter how long I wait politely beside the door.

The third is a little different, not so much an a-ha moment, but an a-ha discovery. THIS. Bullet Journalling. Discovering this was one of those moment I profoundly realised that there are many people with far smarter, more organised brains in the world that mine, and that I could benefit from those people really existing by them sharing and me using their good ideas! Enter the analogue system of organisation for note books, including a fabulous yet simple system for coding entries. My journals used to be full of ‘I feel this because this thing happened, which must mean this’ and while journalling that way is healthy and helpful for some people, for me, it was becoming an echo chamber for my anxious interpretations and fears.

The fourth a-ha moment came when talking to a friend whom I love very dearly, about something completely unrelated, and thinking about my first a-ha moment of this week. That thought was that I’m not sure if I’ll be “there” at thirty, I’m not sure I’ll be “there” at the same time or rate as the people I love, but that doesn’t mean the people I love can’t see the process I’m in, won’t respect me for at least trying. I’m not even sure where “there” is for me, but the pictures getting clearer, and I know that on the journey there, I won’t be alone.

The fifth a-ha moment happened today, less of a moment, more of a rising awareness. I’m getting good right, that’s almost a rate of one a day, except today was not a good day. Today was a crying-in-the-blankets day, and it just so happen to coincide with  appearance of two potential jobs. So the day started of with feeling unexpectedly terrible, I dragged myself into the shower, put on some enlivening music, went outside, drank tea – in short, everything I usually do to pick myself up. It didn’t work. The weight of the air was crushing me and every gaze brought tears to my eyes. I went out, did the shopping, spoke to my friend. Crawled into a duvet and crying for half an hour before making tea. Read thirty pages of a book. Then I got up, knowing what I needed to do to respond, and just did it. Somewhere along the line, I realised that I can’t stay in my comfort zone forever. I can’t plan only to do the things I know I’m capable of or I’ll never be able to grow. What I had been crying about was not being capable of this things being asked of me – will I be able to hold down a job when I’ve been such a mess recently, would fifty hours a week be too much for someone like me, am I prepared to move to an entirely new place again –  all things I was afraid in advance, and it’s only a potential prospect.

This feeling of ‘doing it’ is currently translating into me drafting a really scary email I have to send, even while I write this. It’s the second scary email today, but I’ll send it before bed. Somewhere in the last week, or perhaps the last few weeks, it’s like the cogs have all come slowly into rhythm, and now just this week, they’ve clicked into place. It’s become easy for me to think about the future, to plan into it and see myself doing things currently outside my comfort zone. Filling in job applications is no longer the roller-coaster of self-doubt and crippling anxiety. I might not necessarily be feeling better all the time, but I do think I’m getting better at dealing with life.

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A Cure for the Itch?

So, I was watching a Ted Talk my friend linked me to,  and this came up next. Ah. Ahhhh. I was in a click-about-the-internet kind of mood , so I clicked it and started to watch. As I was watching, the thing I’ve been running from emerged from the shadowy recesses of my mind.

Tick tick tick tick tick.

Not a biology clock, a count down of moments passing. It reminded me of some truths I’ve been running from: firstly, I broke up my last mostly brilliant relationship because I wasn’t growing and developing; secondly, that I am a finite being in a finite world and if I don’t create my future now I will have no future; and thirdly, the people I love are building their own lives and their own futures – I don’t want to be left behind as some relic of their past. Truthfully, I’m letting myself stagnate, because oh no, the future, uncertainty, putting myself at risk of failure, having to ask people for things.

Tick tick tick tick tick.

I’m letting my future go to waste. I will not let myself become the starving grasshopper with nothing to see it through the winter. Knowing that, the panic starts up in my mind; ahh, Ahhhh! Then begins the echo chamber of sounds, with old failures and bad memories erupting like zombies out of the flesh-form walls. All this noise, these feelings – the racing of my heart, the sheer panic of my own mortality, the mental flapping, is all to much.

As it happens, the other Ted Talk I’d been linked to watch was this, all about how stress is not the enemy, but rather the reaction that enables you to deal with the stressful things you need to deal with. So, I went back and watched the talks in the reverse order.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick.

I shouldn’t be drowning out that sounds. I shouldn’t be covering it with cushions and blankets, turning up Disney films too loud to block it out. I should be listening. It makes my heart raise, my body temperate raise until I’m burning like a furnace.

I should be using those ticks for self-development, my future, the further-ment of my dreams.

I need a plan. And a back up plan. And something meaningful to be doing in the meantime that earns me money to support future plannage. I need to face thins head on and be tough. I know that saying all this on my blog and watching Ted Talks doesn’t translate into action, but typing this doesn’t fix the itch. And I feel so revved up, I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

 

 

 

A New Platitude

So I’ve been doing this shtick a few days over a month now, and I wanted to analyse whether it’s helped me. In a nominal sense, I’ve always wanted to own a blog and I have great aspirations for where this blog will be in three/five/ten years, so in a purely box ticking kind of way, there’s that. You have to be a small fish before you can grow big. Another advantage is that it slows down time for me, stops all the days of my unemployment from merging into one long dirge.

But, has it actually helped me develop? Has it facilitated me to change? Well, yes. I’m actually having days now, I’ve sorted out my sleeping pattern, I talk to people and I;m not overcome by

But, then I stopped. I got comfortable in my newly improved world and I’m clinging to it. The steps beyond this stage (the stage of managing and coping with the basic functions of everyday life) are scary. They are the win-or-lose stages, the stages that come with hope and failure. But writing (a different) blog post today made me confront that hot, itchy feeling; the feeling that I’ve been letting myself off easy; that I’m not keeping up with those people I love; that this current life will be the only one I lead if I do not act to change it; that living this way would be disrespected by the people I love because it is full of the back things about me – laziness, moping – and not full of the things that make them proud to know me, like how strong and determined I can be.

This is an uncomfortable truth. It’s a crucial truth that I need to face. I cannot sit here with big dreams and butt ache from where I’ve been sat on it too long. I need to change, now. And that momentum needs to come from me. But I’m still going to try and finish this post without planning out how.

 

Narcissism vs. Personal Development

When does trying to improve oneself become a monotonous obsession with oneself?

This question comes from the fact that I am painfully aware of the fact that this blog is entirely self-serving. All the blogs talk about me, analyse me, my life and behaviour.  I don’t write with one iota of thought about how it could help other people in a similar situation, because I do not feel I have authority to talk on the subject having not yet finished helping myself. I’ve not even been doing this for a year yet; I’ve barely surpassed a month.

I’m aware that for the moment I have no readership, that I am just shouting into the void, but this blog gives a kind of transparency to things that have to remain hidden in my real world life. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but for now, it’s helping me feel better, so on balance, I will keep going. In the future, once I am better myself,  I’d like to be well enough to advice other people on how to unstuck themselves, or at least provide an inspiration for them to start their own journey. Is that narcissistic?

I’m going to try to get out of my own head more, perhaps make a few posts about the most useful things I’ve done.

Writing vs. Indecision

I love writing. It’s what I want to build my life around (along with a life-long partnership when the time comes). I have lots of ideas, lots of fuel which burst out of me at random intervals where I just have to write. If I sit down in a waiting room for more than about five minutes, my brain starts writing – and you better hope that I have a pen to keep up with it. Napkins, bookmarks, ticket stubs, even the fly-pages and covers of paperbacks, fall victim too my eager hand.

That’s great. So why is my submissions/completions rate so low? Do I get bogged down in the details? Do I get lost in the bloated middle or fizzle out before the end? Well, no. I don’t really get to these stages. I live constantly in the bright exciting playground of the new idea. My stories remain perfect in my head like un-drawn drawings. The skill of the brush stroke does not match the skill of the mind, and it is this I think that I’m afraid of. I love my characters, I don’t want to see them hurt by the world, or worse – by me.

I thought for a long time about whether I wanted to write novels, or whether I wanted to have written books, but truly, it is the writing I enjoy. I suppose it’s boring to a lot of people, the daily plugging away at the keyboard, but in times like that my heart sings. Recently, I completed the first story I’ve finished in a while. It needs editing and polishing, and a whole lot of stage two work, it is finished and I find that really encouraging. So, I’m going to make myself finish a short story perhaps every week or so to remind myself what finishing feels like. To get me in the habit of finishing, so that eventually the frustration of the unfinished overcomes the fear of the imperfect.

But finishing a project comes with the implicit undertone of focussing on that project. I’m not so good at the focussing, I’m more of a head-in-the-clouds space cadet, thinking about concepts and colours and all the other distractions a mind can provide. My first problem with it is how do I choose the idea, the characters, to focus on first? Not all ideas are equally bright, but what about the few bright ones that stand forward? How do I pick between beloved children? I know that writing is smoother when you keep a part of your mind connecting to that world all the time.

Perhaps the key is choosing, and sticking to your choice until the end. I don’t like this idea though, it feels disloyal to the stories, characters and idea who have to still idly by and rust when I don’t have time to voice them. Maybe I should simply write more.

 

 

An Old Dog’s New Trick

I feel a little embarrassed about my last post; it’s a bit personal and it’s whiny. I’m trying to escape whiny victim-hood, and get into my new groove (which hopefully will be absolutely nothing to do with llamas).

In essence the problem I’m having is that I struggle to have my boundaries recognised or respected in this house. I’m always assumed to be available when I’m wanted and consequently, I can’t get alone time when I want it. I can’t relax when I am left alone because at any moment, someone could come barging in and demand something of me.

The solution I’ve found to this problem are as follows. Firstly, I now get up at five to give myself at least two hours in the morning where I’m uninterrupted and I have some time to decompress. I use the first hour to cook mindfully, eat and tidy away. The second hour is the day’s first hour of writing, with some time set aside for my journal and day-planning. This also means I’m getting to bed much earlier, so I’m getting a little time to myself in the evenings as well.

The second solution is to have removed myself from the immediate vicinity of the house, to the shed. It’s unheated and has no electricity, but it does have a window so at least I can see when people are coming. It also reduces the risk of me being disturbed as it’s comparatively so much more hassle to come and find me that just sticking a head around the door. It’s only for working in, but it does mean I get the feeling of “going to work” at seven when the rest of the house starts to wake up.

It is perhaps an indirect way of dealing with the issue, but both these this solutions come after communicating the issues, getting promises of change that never occur. They’re my solutions, because they are the things that I can do. I am aware that the only real solution will be for me to move out. I know some part of me wants to be living alone because being able to support yourself one of the marks of success. It’s not really fair of me to expect the advantages of living alone (privacy, alone time) when I literally cannot afford them at the moment, but I should be using this to fuel the hard work required to effect change, rather than bitching about it on my blog which feels entirely small-minded.

The Thing I Dread

Mum is as wonderful and flawed as most of them. She tries her best in not-easy circumstances. Dad is capricious; two-parts ill-expressed genius to one part paternal benevolence, one explosive temper and a dash of caustic wit. He doesn’t believe depression exists.

Recently, they both have the same question: But how are you feeling?

How do I answer that? They’ve never really ask before. My mother wants me to be honest (although really she’s to busy to hear me) so that she can fix me by popping out age old wisdoms “smile and the world smiles with you” and critical life advice “maybe if you got a job…” (as if I’m not trying). My father, in general, wants me to lie. He wants me to smile and say I’m fine, or tell him I have a migraine or a cold, tell him anything other than up unhappy.

They both desperately want me to have a reason other that how I feel to explain the way I behave. And neither of them seem to get that I really, really do too.

How do you explain these feelings and they way they keep you trapped? How do I explain that recently, doing damn-near anything is a hard-won victory and I’m now exhausted because that’s all the energy I get for that day?  How do I draw the darkness with words, frame the ceaseless heavy gloom, the relentless bone-deep ache? Some days literally, physically hurt for no reason that anyone else can solve.

On the days where I’m hiding, the battle rages on outside these thin walls. “Why is she still here, why hasn’t she moved out yet!”. “Why can’t I go in there? It’s MY house!”. “Why can’t she just get a job?”. In fairness to my parents, most of these are my obstreperous sister’s words, but it’s also the quieter discussions that go on around them. They act as if I’m an alien, insensible to language and have discussions about laziness and sin behind half open doors.

The one piece of advice they have in common is “oh, cheer up”. It’s mostly said to mean “your sadness is an inconvenience and we don’t want to deal with it. Stop making everyone else fell unhappy by being so miserable” and very occasionally “smile, be happy!”. The former, I fear, is a very valid point.

Mostly, to their question, I lie. It’s a migraine, I haven’t slept, I feel sick. I don’t have the energy to pretend enough to make the lie believable, but I also chronically do not have the energy to explain.

I just need to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t matter how I feel. If I want a successful life, I have to build one, now, before it’s too late. I’m going to ask them to stop asking me, I don’t want the focus of my life to be on feeling bad.

 

 

Three New Rules

I am currently reading “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins. According to the book, the first step to lasting change is raising your standards for yourself.

So, I wrote a list of things I will no longer tolerate in myself. I could go on really quite endlessly, but I wanted to keep the focus quite tight initially so I can focus on changing those few things. What was going to be five rules became three, but here they are:

  • I will no longer tolerate or allow myself a single day where I do not get up, work hard and do more than I think I can. I will not take the easy option.
  •  I will no longer tolerate or allow my emotions to dictate my behaviour or to be an excuse for not doing what I need to work hard.
  •  I will no longer allow myself or tolerate not giving my body the things it needs, including enough water, pee breaks, sunshine, fresh air, space, showers/skincare, food, and particularly more expensive foods like vegetables and good quality protein.

This all boils down to – questions I can ask myself repeatedly though the day. Does my body I need anything right now? Am I working hard or have I taken the easy way? What is dictating my behaviour?  Hopefully these things will help me build a better mindset.

Quarterly Catch-Up

Every three months, I sit down and evaluate what I’ve done, what I can improve and what my goals/areas of focus should be for the next three months. (New Year comes around far too infrequently for me.)

January, February and March, well. I can’t say I’ve done sparklingly well. I’ve been feeling pretty shitty. These three months always seem to rush by, and I never seem to get anything done.The things I did achieve though; I started running (although it could be more regular), started this blog, wrote things and ventured into screen writing.

Goals for the next ninty days:

  1.  Live by my three rules every day.
  2. Go running every other day, without fail.
  3. Contribute at least 500 words to the same project every day, and add to at least two other projects each week.
  4. Sleep between 10 – 12, rise between 6-8.
  5. Meditate every morning, and read
  6. Contact at least one friend each week.

Bonus points for:

  1. Getting a job,
  2. Moving out,
  3. Earning money,
  4. Submitting a piece of writing,
  5. Seeing a friend.

A tall order perhaps, but largely achievable by setting out a daily routine and forcing myself to stick to it come hell and high water. Let’s see.

 

The Bitter Pill

Ah, I almost broke my streak. I’m aiming for a post every two/three days. Glad I’m here.

Have I been out revolutionizing my life, finding employment and generally being a success? No, I’ve been hiding, back in the grey pit again and down out of sight of the light. I still feel bad, just as I did before I stopped, but I’m back in the place I can push through it. I tried to go to work yesterday (after putting it off for two days), and had to come home after about an hour because I just couldn’t.

One thing I have been forcing myself to do is journal and record my mood, because we all know how it can ease a depression. This time, my journal is not the words I get lost in, but more like a sketch/scrap book. Flicking back is a very vivid picture of my mood over the last few weeks. What I see isn’t good: a few days of being productive and capable with an undertone of the grey, then the grey thickens until the entries stop for however long I’m hiding. It’s not good.

I’m starting to think about going to the doctor, seeing about some pills to level out my moods. I am very reluctant to do this. I grew up with the fear of the Pink Floyd generation, the fear of  soul-destroying happy pills and The Wall.. I don’t want that for my life, I want to be able to fix this on my own. So far, I’ve been diagnosed with having had “a depression”, which is a very different thing than “having Depression”. The two things lead to very different lives.