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Talking to Myself

It occurs to me, that for all people love to tell me how much they adore my writing, very few people say the words publicly. In a medium like this, there’s plenty of scope for personal comments on a particular entry (especially if you know or suspect it’s about yourself) but… even my real-life friends don’t really comment, here.

It’s okay. I’m not talking about the majority of them anyway… most of my friends, they give me as much as I give them, and I couldn’t in good conscience ask them to obsess over my life the way I do. I mean, this is the whole proof of why I’m a good writer: like the song says, I could write it better than you ever felt it. But reading the story and being amused or interested is not the same as having enough emotional investment to comment on it–it didn’t happen to them, it happened to me, and only I *should* care enough to write about it.

This always happens to me, eventually. I talk and talk in an empty room, and wonder why it’s only my own voice I hear, echoing back at me. This is largely the reason for my recent spurt of doing things: karaoke, ballroom dancing, song parodies, trying to get into a brick university, trying to set up a YouTube channel with mates… I know I have to do these things in front of people, for them to comment; and this blog is more or less a dirty secret, I certainly don’t post it on my Facebook Wall or anything, I don’t *try* to get everyone to look at it.

I can’t escape the fact that some things, I have been trying to get people to look at, though. In some areas of my life, I’m giving a good impression of being downright extroverted–and still, no one’s paying attention.

What if I did *this* more openly, and no one noticed it, either? Then what would I have to offer the world?

Nothing. Out of all the things I think I can maybe do, this is the one I’m best at. If people don’t care about my writing….? I got nothin’.

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Perpetual Writer’s Block?

I’m just not very good at this, am I?

I used to write regularly (very regularly, daily, 4-5 times some days) up until I was… well… uhhh…?

When it goes, it just leaves you, doesn’t it? You don’t get much warning, evidently–one day, you’re writing 3 times a week on a slow week, and then, you realize you’re in a place where you’re lucky if you write 3 times a month.

Maybe I simply don’t have anything to say, anymore. Maybe even *I* am so tired of the sound of my voice, I can hardly *bear* the sound of it.

I’ve spent a lot of time these last couple of weeks, pondering the person I used to be (say, at the age of 16 or so) and I’ve come to some unhappy conclusions (which are for myself, not you, thank you for listening all the same). Mostly, though, I wonder if I’ve never been clever–at all, even a little bit–and I just had so much time alone, that I managed to think (seemingly) deeper thoughts than some of my peers.

That would certainly explain why, now that I’m relatively busy (and not quite so unsociable, maybe, as teenage me could be) all my best ideas have dried up: because, newsflash, Manda–you never had the capacity to think great thoughts in the first place, you just had a shit-ton of time on your freakishly unburdened hands. As the people around you–your mom, your little sister, your tiny circle of friends–took care of you, as people have always had to do, you spent all that extra time musing over things until you twisted them into something superficially interesting.

What a depressing thought.

Or a depressed one?

I’d say that’s food for thought, but as above, I’m too busy–or something–to think about it.

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Silly Posts

I Hate Mickey Mouse

This is why I hate Mickey Mouse (and I mean, I really, really hate him):

We’re watching Mickey’s Magical Christmas (oh, OF COURSE it’s *Mickey’s* Christmas, not Disney Friends’ Christmas, or whatever) and basically, it’s a series of short movies inside a movie, in which Mickey usually stars, always introduces the short films, and is just generally being MC for the entire production.

The purpose behind this all, we discover (or knew already, if we didn’t hate Mickey anyway and had been paying attention from the start) is that Donald Duck has no Christmas spirit… and nothing seems to be helping. Towards the end of the film, Mickey utters the statement, “I’ve tried everything I can; I guess Donald will just *never* have any Christmas Spirit”. And he walks outside to sulk on the roof.

Right. So, everyone who participated in the party, trying to cheer Donald up: they don’t get a mention. The actors in the short movies (all of whom are in the audience, because every character in either place is a standard Disney character) also get no mention.

Most importantly, the fact that Donald Duck CLEARLY has some sort of seasonal affective disorder or major depressive disorder (he can’t freakin’ smile in the middle of a Christmas party, surrounded by friends, well-lubricated with what could be cocoa but I’m guessing is mulled wine, knowing Donald) and Mickey is upset because HE couldn’t fix it.

WHAT A FUCKING NARCISSIST. Grow up, Mickey Mouse. You are not the star of Donald Duck’s mental health crisis.

But oh wait… you are.

FUCK YOU, MICKEY.

PS Maybe if you’d stop making Donald Duck or his family members (Scrooge McDuck, anyone?) the bad guy in *every* short film, he wouldn’t feel so down… remember the saying, Donald: “When you think you’re depressed, look around and make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes”.

And if you happen to be standing next to Mickey Mouse, the world’s greatest narcissist, the only mouse to ever have a god complex, the Kanye West of Disney animations, get the hell outta Dodge.

And thus concludes my rant for today.

2nd PS But one more thing, on the subject of Mickey… he keeps a dog, right? Every other animal in that world can speak and look after themselves just fine, but not Pluto… who is obviously an adult with special/complex needs, being kept ON A LEASH by Mickey, who treats him like an actual pet.

Mickey Mouse, you are a disgusting non-human being. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.

3rd PS Have I ever mentioned, my kids LOVE Mickey Mouse? I mean, more Minnie, but… *sigh* I have nothing to say to that, except *sigh*

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Mood Diary, Today (11th Feb 2015)

I feel like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.

My skin feels tender, as if I’ve somehow grazed the entirety of it on something rough; I have not. My chest hurts, it’s a little tight, and my inhalers (the blue and the brown) seem to do nothing to relieve it. My head has been throbbing for the last 2 days, in spite of copious medications (paracetamol, ibuprofen, caffeine) to ease it. I also feel a bit cold, especially in my extremities; I’ve been saying I have poor circulation for years, and the other day, a doctor friend tested it and actually said, “You know, that *is* pretty sluggish,” SO THERE (suck on that, everyone who calls me a hypochondriac; nevermind that “sluggish circulation” isn’t a diagnosis of anything, and I don’t have any worrying symptoms, and nothing will come of having sluggish circulation other than I’ll need to wear socks and gloves occasionally when other people don’t, I was right, I get cold fast, and my being right is what counts!).

Sorry, I digressed, there. Returning to my story:

So, I feel the way people look when other people tell them, “You look like you’ve been dragged (or “drug” in my native patois) through a hedge backwards”.

Why do I feel this way, you may ask? I have an answer:

Nonya.

In my native patois, that’s short for, “None of your business.”

That being said, if I didn’t want to talk about it (so to speak) I wouldn’t be, so let me give you the situation in broad brush strokes, without revealing too much (but hopefully enough).

I’ve been fighting (definitely for the last 2 days, but off and on over the last couple of months) with a close loved one. Well, more than one, really; but one in particular, most of the time/most vehemently. The range of things we fight about is vast, and yet, so easily boiled down to one specific issue… and that, friends and readers, is the bit that’s not going up. Not today, not ever. Sorry to disappoint.

But can I get a little virtual cuddle anyway, a little bit of recognition that fighting with loved ones, for whatever reason, is HARD HARD HARD HARD HARD?

And I’ve been doing it, more or less constantly, since I left home 12 years ago. I’m just tired, now. I want to rest. I want to not have to scrap constantly, for every little thing I believe, or believe in, or seek to do, or try to understand… I just want to take it easy, for a bit.

Which will never happen, of course. The day I stop questioning everything and railing about things that I think are unfair and trying to mould my life to my own specifications, is the day they’ve finally hauled me off to a hospital somewhere and filled me full of anti-psychotics. That day may be in my future, but it’s a long way off… at present, I’m still capable of doing what we’ll call a Robbie; ranting and shouting and breaking things like a demon, saying borderline crazy stuff, and scaring everyone who’s in the house with me (I’m so sorry, sweet babies; I did leave the room almost straight away, last night) right up until the moment that the neighbours/wider family/police are called, and then, I am most humbly apologetic and contained. And since Robbie (my dad) has never gotten himself locked up for such behaviour (well, not in my lifetime, anyway) I reckon my odds are pretty good that I won’t, either.

But God. All the screaming and wailing and arguing and railing and just plain discord… it takes a toll, doesn’t it?

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Mood Diary, 19th December 2014

So, I’ve managed to isolate one of the reasons I suddenly feel so terrible:

Someone I thought was a good friend is being a douchebag to me. And he *was* being really nice, until a couple of weeks ago, so… now I’m not sure how to cope.

I once made the statement to him (not that long ago, actually) that I was perpetually homesick (4,000 miles from home, only get back to the States once every 2 years or so, holidays are particularly rough, etc) and his response was everything you’d hope for. Compassionate, concerned, empathetic; he recalled his own time far from home (which lasted one-tenth as long as my current exile, and allowed for frequent trips to see his folks) and how isolated that made him feel, and exclaimed over how wretched it must be for me.

Since then, I’ve asked him to blow off doing something (non-mandatory, that he’s stated is no longer any fun) a couple of times, and he’s refused. Then, a few days ago, he cancelled that activity outright, to start spending one evening a week hanging out with mutual friends (they all live in a town about 2 hours’ drive away)–an evening that I have no hope of ever attending.

And when I queried it, he refused to even really discuss it. I got the distinct impression that what he does with his time is none of my business (true enough, I suppose, but in the run-up to the holidays, when I’m already coming apart at the seams… and following on from his declarations of sympathy a few short months ago… you see my point, perhaps? He does not). In the end, he made the statement, “I’m sorry you’re separated by distance; I won’t let that factor colour everything”.

In other words, “Your situation is pitiable, but it has nothing to do with me… and I won’t even acknowledge that your feelings might be hurt that I couldn’t skip one… well… anything, to spend time with you, but I can cancel a repeating, long-term activity outright to spend an evening a week with friends you only wish you could see that often.”

Not 2 weeks ago, I sent a preliminary message to a few friends, warning them about Christmas being a low time for me, and especially this year (we were home last year, for the first Christmas in 7 years) and my ex has the kids all Christmas week, this year.

If this is the response I get for admitting my vulnerability and loneliness, I will stick with what I usually do; up my meds, sleep as much as possible, and when all else fails, get too drunk to stand unaided.

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Mood Diary, December 18th 2014

I suppose I should be pleased; I’ve lasted until a week before Christmas (look at that, a perfect week) before feeling like I’d rather sleep forever than get out of bed each morning.

Sleep forever is half-euphemism, half-not.

By which I mean, half of me wants to just stay in bed when I wake up… and the other half of me wants to sever my femoral artery with a broken shard of Christmas tree bauble.

Isn’t that a jolly holiday image? Now you know what it’s like inside my head.

I have self-upped my medication, but there’s only so much upping possible, for obvious reasons. Of course, once the kids go to their dad’s (Saturday for an overnight stay; then back for 2 nights, then Tuesday – Saturday at their dad’s again) I can self-medicate with alcohol. As we’re actually pretty booked up with friends over this holiday period, this could result in some of my mates seeing me absolutely shit-faced, weeping into my Christmas turkey, and/or refusing to do Christmas at all.

Whatever. I got the tree up, I got presents wrapped and under it, and I’m holding it together in front of my kids. What more do you people want?

I know what I want. I want to see my family and friends–all of them–for fucking Christmas.

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Silver Linings Playbook–Almost a Film Review

So, I’m watching, “Silver Linings Playbook” (as in, right now–I paused it to come write this) and I wanted to mention the scene that resonated with me while it was still fresh in my mind. Bradley Cooper’s character is (finally) seen taking his meds (Seroquel and Gabapentin, I think, but don’t quote me on it) and in the very next moment, we see him (finally) replacing a window that he smashed days earlier. I’ll return to that scene in a moment, but first, let me digress into the parts of the film that resonate less:

The character in the movie is bipolar, and like most depictions thereof, it’s a little off when compared to my personal experiences… which are not mine, per se; as far as I know, I’m just a garden-variety, chronically depressed person; but I have bipolar family members, and the protagonists of most movies exploring the condition seem slightly… ah, what’s the word… not exaggerated–that’s the very key to sometimes realizing when a person is bipolar, or noticing that a person you know to be bipolar has come off their meds–I mean, it *is* pretty common for unmedicated bipolar disorder to manifest as exaggerated mannerisms and speech patterns… so it’s not fair for me to say the depictions seem over-exaggerated (they really don’t–I’ve seen my dad lose his shit over something as stupid as whether or not the mayonnaise jar was closed properly, and by “lose his shit” I mean become physically violent and exceptionally, loudly enraged) and I really can’t put my finger on what it is that seems off about Mr Cooper’s portrayal, except to say, it just doesn’t hit me right.

Maybe it’s the lack of actual joy when he’s meant to be manic; I’ve seen folks (most often, my dad, again) go from the happiest person you ever saw, to a screaming pillar of rage, in about 3 seconds flat (which I’ve been led to believe is pretty standard/one of the standard ways a manic episode can play out) but that’s the difference–even when my dad gets happy-that-becomes-angry, or happy-with-an-undertone-of-anger, his delight seems genuine. Everyone watching him may realize he’s about to flip like a Olympic gymnast, and start screaming obscenities and slamming doors in the place of playful banter and enthusiastic endorsement (of whatever he’s endorsing), but *he* doesn’t realize it. Is that the key? Getting the actor to somehow forget that, 3 sentences into his ecstatic speech about whatever’s on his mind, he’s going to about-face and start ranting about what’s wrong with society? I don’t know how you would even do that… but I do know that self-awareness of the way the monologue is about to shift, does not look anything like manic episodes *I* have personally witnessed.

And can I just say, I feel like a dick for using all this clinical speech. I have exactly 2 semesters of psych classes under my belt, some years spent in therapy, knowledge of a few folks who are confirmed bipolar (mostly relatives) and I sometimes watch movies and read books. That’s it. Those are my credentials. I haven’t actually earned the right to talk about an entire group of people, like, with any kind of authority. This is just me, sharing my (subjective, no doubt very biased) observations… but for the pittance that it’s worth, I’m not all that keen on “manic” rants that seem purely angry, or constructed to become angry, because in my very limited experience, manic folks usually *do* start out happy. I mean, it’s a crazy, OTT, “calm yourself down and take a chill pill quite literally” style of happiness, but it still seems happy. And as a huge fan of movies, I’m always watching for, and always love it, when writers/actors/directors get the hard stuff right…

…which is the scene where newly-medicated fella finally fixes that window. There was nothing in the world (not his parents’ embarrassment, not his own repressed shame, not a basic sense of appropriate behaviour) that could make him fix the window that he smashed in a fit of rage. The window was unimportant. The book he had just read DESERVED to be thrown out of the window, and the window was just collateral damage, and he was not apologizing for it. (All done very well, by the way. I bought it, completely.) And then, he takes his meds, and like a switch being thrown, there he is, fixing the window, as meek and mild as the Baby Jesus (I know, I know, Mary’s meant to be the meek-and-mild one, but just let me have it, it sounds cute). And this is what resonated with me–both the fact that he changed so rapidly and so thoroughly, with the medication, and also the fact that, as bummed out as he was to be taking it, objectively, he was being more useful on the meds than he had been off.

I think that says everything about why those of us who are on anti-depressants or anti-psychotics (or any kind of mental health drug for the long haul) actually *stay* on the meds. We may hate the way they make us feel without even being able to articulate how that is; we may hate the lack of enthusiasm (for anything) that comes with certain medications; we may resent the sexual side effects, the fuzzy-around-the-edges feeling of trying to think through a chemical haze, the increased appetite plus decreased concern about weight gain, and a hundred other things; but in the end, we can’t argue with a substance that, like magic, like a modern-day miracle, transforms us into people who can suddenly remember why you don’t get to smash a window to smithereens and just leave it there. Yes, we may be more prone to repeating our observations; yes, we may be a little less sharp generally; yes, our colours may seem a little faded, especially to ourselves; but all the creativity and originality, all the quick-thinking and clarity, all the shiny you-ness of your best self, doesn’t seem to matter when you’re weighing your idealized notions of that self against the prospect of being able to even entertain concepts like “morality” and “personal space” and “property law”.

And watching this movie, I see all of that realization happening, right there on Bradley Cooper’s face, as he eyes up a nice new window and (wearily, resignedly, with a resentment whose claws have been clipped) slides it into place and hopes it fits; just like the imperfect fragments of his life. We see it, film-makers. We get the metaphor. Using a window to make your point is an especially nice (if obvious) touch.

And even if, by the end of the film, he’s come off the meds and made his (thus far, failed and ridiculous) attempts at positive thinking and healing-through-exercise work, well, I will still have the scene that makes the movie worth watching. For me, this film isn’t going to get any better (or worse) than the sight of his face in that moment when he realizes that, yes, he can fix the “window”… but only if he uses the tools provided.

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