COVID19

I haven’t thought about this blog for months. I only really write stuff when I feel like it or … well that’s it I couldn’t think of another reason. I don’t like to write because I have to, it’s not a job but a hobby I pick up and put down whenever I want then it becomes a pleasure and not a chore.

What can I say? We are already hurtling towards the end of April in the year 2020 and what a year it’s been so far. I am sitting here thinking shout the world and the situation we all find ourselves in now. It’s supposed to be that weekend of the year where we all emerge from the winter a bit bleary-eyed and bloated from the hibernation of the winter months. Fat chance.

Life is on hold while the Government scrambles desperately to find a vaccination to COVID19. I am trying to not watch too much news. I get despondent when hearing the grim daily death toll being announced seeing the numbers creep higher with each passing day.

It is usually when you have heard someone you know who has lost a relative to the virus does it become real. I said at the beginning of this pandemic that people will only take seriously when it starts to directly affect them or they know someone who has been affected. 

It is at this time when I looked to countries who have the ways and means to cope with the pandemic and take privilege, arrogance, selfishness, and superiority to a whole new level. Parts of the US have seen protests down to being ‘told what to do’. I can understand the need and want to work and provide for your family but when it comes to the expense of a nation’s health it is downright reckless and stupid. 

Even when you complain that the measures taken are too draconian and you end up losing your own life do some still believe it is some political ploy to remove ‘civil liberties’. 

My question would be to these protesters is if they could see the enemy and know it’s dangerous to leave their homes due to being taken out by a sniper or bomb and the government told them to stay indoors would they still complain about diminishing civil liberties?

The UK response to COVID-19 has been extraordinary where people have been organizing social events and looking out for each other in ways we haven’t seen for decades. The tremendous outpouring of heart-felt thanks for NHS has been amazing to hear. We are a nation who should be proud that we can rely on a service where at the end of the treatment we don’t have to worry about how we are able to pay for such life-saving remedies. 

 

 

 

Lost connections – depression

Maybe we do over think things. I know I do. But if there is a problem then usually there is an answer. 

I have been told  – not only by others but by my therapists – that overthinking something just isn’t good for us – but it is a natural human response. If we are lost in an unknown place we look for a way out and if are pain receptors are being buzzed continuously we will look for a cessation.

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Stumbling across some youtube channels and tv programmes I found an interesting documentary maker called Hamilton Morris. He is pursuant of psychedelic experiences and the use of drugs to induce such as a state. I became interested in his research as I have had mild side-effect experiences from my anti-depressant I am currently taking called Mirtazapine.

I can single out that certain chemicals have reacted with the medication to cause sleep disturbance and vivid dreams bordering on hallucinations. It’s only after a couple of hours of being awake I have found myself free from thinking what I had experienced in sleep wasn’t actually real.

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Now, this could be a combination of a number of things I acknowledge that it has only ever occurred when I have been taken this medication. In a current study, the drug MDMA has proven effective in the treatment of PTSD. I am really interested in this area and whether I am able to take a pill in such a way that might ease the depression. But does that mean I would have to take it every time I felt I needed it or ‘prescribed’ on a regular basis like normal anti-depressant medication?

Hopefully, in the future we will be able to treat mental health as quickly and as openly as physical health. The funding that should be available for effective treatments. The chronic under-funding leads to a detrimental knock-on effect on the rest of the country.

 

 

50 years ago

My best friend was born. Sgt Peppers was released. Homosexuality was no longer considered as a crime. A lot has changed in 50 years. 

I watched a programme about Princess Diana last night and was reminded of the amazing work she did with those who were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. It was a difficult time for gay men, as they were branded vile and all other sorts of horrendous names in the press.

In the back of my mind was always thought that I couldn’t come out as gay then as people would automatically assume I had AIDS. I did mention to someone in 1987 that I was gay and I swore her to secrecy. I was just miserable at the thought of being gay as it was in direct conflict with my faith as a Christian at the time.

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I know now that there would have been a tremendous support network in my friendship circle as I came out a few years later, in the early 90s, to some wonderful friends. Being out for 25 years has caused me to readdress those early feelings of being terrified. I didn’t come out to my mother until I was 36, as I knew she didn’t approve, but we became closer as I knew that she loved me just as much as she did before.

The closet is a lonely place. It must have been awful for those living with the fear of being outed before 1967. A time when you could have been dismissed from your work if they found out about your true identity.

I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues. There is no mentioned of homelessness or poverty in the UK and no mention of the plight of children in Syria.

As I said in my previous post, Evangelical Christians are obsessed with sex. Particularly the LGBT community. I really cannot understand how a supposed Christian Organisation such as the Christian Institute can justify levels of LGBT articles on their site. I will write to them and as to why they highlight such issues, I am sure they won’t reply.

Dear sirs,

I am a writer and blogger and campaigner for LGBT rights as well as mental health issues. 
I undertook Theological training for three years and I have a degree in Religion and Sociology. I also hold a PGCE in Education in Religion from Westminster College Oxford. 
In a short survey I looked at your content on the Youtube part of your social networking and was interested to note that nearly half of your posts mention LGBT issues; despite only 1.7% as you claim of people in the UK identifying as LGBTI. I was intrigued to know why this was as it seems a rather unbalanced view of the ‘news’ as you report it.
I would love to hear your response and even a chance to talk with a spokesperson from your organisation. 
Thanks 
Yours sincerely 
Philip Evans

Back to therapy

“If I could pay to have you in therapy for the rest of your life I would”

Is what one of my doctors said to me a few years ago. I don’t take it as a negative thing as therapy and talking works for me, certainly better than most medication, although in the long run that has helped as well.

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It was good to realize that I can look forwards rather than constantly backward on my life. I have never been a one to get excited about what’s going to take place in the next six months, more regretting what has happened and why things went so wrong.

Having someone that’s completely independent, someone doesn’t know anything about who I am or what I have done, giving their honest opinion. As the therapist said ‘I am not here to tell you what you want to hear’.

The opinion on matters and what they think about them. Unlike someone who has known you for some time, they aren’t afraid to give their honest response. One of the things I noticed I was doing was apologizing for those things that interest me like books, religion, and music. I always got a strange look and a pitied reply when I told them that my degree was in Religion. It seems I have had to apologize a lot for what I like.

Things have changed in the last few months. I have managed to get on a plane and fly to another country on my own. If you knew what state I was in twelve months ago you wouldn’t believe I would be able to do such a thing. But I have and I will continue to get better and more confident. There have been some knocks but I am resigned to put that in the past and moving on.

Last week I gained the most visits and views on my blog here than ever before and that has made me one happy person. Not that I am sitting hoping that I get thousands of views but to know that maybe some people are interested in those things I often apologize for.

impatient

Oh. I like that word. It describes a lot of people and a lot of situations. We want things now. A generation has grown up that has had access to the internet. No longer do we have to wait a week or two for something to be delivered to our down we can purchase something and have it delivered the next day, the next hour or (depending on our broadband) instantaneously.

I have had a bad cold over the past week and I wish it was gone. I am still mourning for the loss of my mother and I wish that was gone. I am wanting a new job and I wish I started tomorrow. But all of things I have mentioned take time to resolve.

All this combined with super fast communication has left people stressed worried and sometimes mentally ill. It has been reported that girls in Britain are more likely to be worried and stressed more than other similar developed countries.

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Can you put down your phone for more than thirty minutes? (apart from when you are sleeping) I know I am addicted to social media. It’s FOMO syndrome. The fear of missing out. I woke this morning worried as my phone was set to silent, thinking that I might have missed an important phone call. I hadn’t.

So I will try to be a little more patience. Stop beating myself up about things I cannot change. And perhaps leave the phone on silent a little more often.

Giving up (update)

I few weeks I posted a blog about looking towards the future and trying to comprehend life after the death of my mother. The post got me thinking that taking small steps to achieving something was the way forward. I know that from time under the CBT therapist she mentioned about setting smaller goals and putting a step forward in ways I know that could be measured and achievable.

I turned to one of my great loves. Photography? no. Drinking? no. Ogling young men? NO! Just tell us!!!

Food.

It always makes me chuckle when people ask me if I like a certain food as I pat my belly as say I didn’t get this size chomping on sticks of celery. I learned to like all food. It was a given in my household growing up that if you didn’t like what you were given you would go hungry as there was no alternative.

So I decided to make the thing that I really wanted to eat. Gone are the days when people cooked traditional food in the house. It’s now ‘pub food’ or ‘gastronomy delights’ and that sort of crap. I do like meat and I am a fan of the steak and kidney pie. I thought I would try it first rather than the steak and kidney pudding which my grandmother used to make.

So I have cooked and prepared. At the moment the meat is cooking and I have other stuff to do. I haven’t made the pastry from scratch because I don’t want to try everything at the same time and I haven’t made pastry since I was a kid.

Moving on

I moved to the house I live in now 14 years ago. I was so excited about getting away from the old house I really didn’t think for a moment that I would spend the next three month after moving day being utterly miserable and regretting my decision.

I know that statistics tell us that moving house is one of the most stressful things to have to to go through and it’s up there with divorce and bereavement. Being naive to this at the time, the move was extremely stressful as the looney that was buying the house that I owed demanded all sorts of work be carried out at my expense before she moved in. She dictated the process all along. She knew I was in love with the house that I wanted to move to and kept making pretty unreasonable demands.

When moving day finally arrived I really questioned whether all the stress, time and money was worth it. I was now in a house that I hated and was desperate to have the life I had back in the in the old place. I had moved on quite literally and I felt it was unnecessary and ultimately the worst decision of my life.

Sometimes you look at the past and you are desperate to go back to what you had. You want that final conversation or just time to say goodbye and know that the person you have lost knows that you loved them. Grief can do strange things to people and I what I have learned so far is not to punish yourself. Taking each day at a time is important and making small steps at a time when you know you cannot run.

Some people try and keep themselves busy almost to shield themselves from the pain but there will be a time when that grief will manifest itself in whatever form it takes. It can creep up on you when you are least expecting it. If you are one of those people who say ‘I am not going to cry or let it affect me’ you might be doing more harm to yourself in the long term.

I know people who we all have lost wouldn’t want to see us upset with pain but sometimes we need to let go of what the person we think would want and allow ourselves to mourn. In allowing ourselves moments we are releasing the pain. It’s not that we are releasing them or loving them any less we are allowing ourselves to heal. It’s not moving from the love but moving on with our lives.

BBC – Stephen Fry

The BBC have been highlighting the issue of mental health with week of programmes about the problems that people have faced with getting a diagnoses and treatment. The first programme retraces Stephen Fry’s life and how he has had to adjust things to cope. Ten years on from his award-winning programme about a secret life of a manic depressive.

I cannot believe that it is ten years since he made the programme and four years since he visited a country of Uganda with it’s hideous and rampant homophobic views of their politicians who have passed laws deliberately target those in the gay community. Seeing it as a ‘sin’ which must be crushed and eradicated. The established church have a lot of serious soul searching in fuelling that homophobic view of gay people seeing them as some sort of curse or deviant negative force in the world.

It was good to hear on the programme the different experiences that others had in having to cope with serious mental illness. It isn’t just a matter of snapping out of mood of feeling sorry for yourself or long-term sadness.

I know that looking at recent experiences and having to evaluate my own health and life that I need to make sure that I am doing everything in my own power to protect myself from being swamped by the over-whelming feeling of worthlessness and look introspectively.

Having cared for my mother for such a long time and that being my entire focus I may I have taken my eye off the ball and not realised that I too must take care of my own health. Allowing myself to grieve and taking time to get my love back for life and the things I appreciate and care about.

Sunshine after the rain

Parts of the USA getting blanketed with snow. People stranded and others very sadly have lost their lives. We are at the mercy of mother nature and the ever changing weather patterns across the world. If you are in the UK you would have heard the news about the localised flooding which has caused millions of pounds of damage to peoples homes and businesses.

When you are in the middle of it all and you are seriously affected by it it seems like the pain and misery caused by the weather will never go away. People who have to literally rebuild their homes can take months and even years to put back together the life that they once new. Sometimes it cannot ever be the same again. You are left still with the mental damage that this has caused. My thoughts are certainly with the people who have lost loved ones in serious weather conditions.

This weekend has been the first time in months that I have felt ‘normal’. I was used to waking each morning full of anxiety and dread of what the day will hold. It took a few hours of that anxiety to go and somehow I would calm down. That no longer happens. I can wake in the morning and feel like normal human being.

After looking after mum and grieving for her you have to put your life back together. Things that were dismantled and put on hold will need to be restarted. The storm has passed but it’s time to get on with things and sort out that which needs to go and others things that can be salvaged. The key thing is not going too fast and making a mess of things. Progress of this sort takes time and patience.

Frost

It’s been a cold week. I haven’t been going out much as I have been recovering from a winter bug which saw me laid up in bed for the best part of two days doesn’t really help when you aren’t feeling the best in the first place. It was bad because I was waking up thinking I was back living at my parents and they, when you realise where you are at it, makes you feel like crap.

I don’t know what it is when I’ve got older I have become less tolerant of the cold. I was talking to a friend about this and they said it doesn’t bother them. Just put more layers on. I think it’s more to do with hardwiring in my head that has a lot to do with it. Trying to protect me and feeling safe. If I feeling I am a little out of my depth or insecure going to somewhere and it makes me uncomfortable for whatever reason it will cause distress. It is a self-preservation mechanism that kicks in.

The spring and the summer are great. Nothing better than flinging the windows and doors open allowing the warm air to go through the house. Sitting in the garden and admiring the view (when it looks nice and not like a council landfill site as it does at the moment).