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. 

 

 

 

Brian Harvey – East 17

Brian Harvey was extremely famous in the 1990s he had a string of hits with a band called East 17. Then after one interview the dream he was living all came crashing down.

Over the years I have followed Brian Harvey’s story. In the 90s I loved their music and bought a couple of their albums. It was just throwaway pop music that didn’t have too much meaning and shouldn’t be taken too serious or literally. In the last decade though, Harvey’s life in my opinion spiralled out of control. There was no solo career and the vain attempts at restarting the original line-up of the band fell at the first hurdle as they couldn’t even rehearse together without arguing or eventually turning into a punch up.

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It was Brian and other band members lack of disciple (by turning up to crucial meetings an hour late) that cause the tensions in the band. These men weren’t boys any longer and people don’t put up with bad behaviour when you are trying to restart a career. No excuses you get yourself there on time just as you would for interview for a job.

In the latest chapter Harvey was ranting online about his problems and threatening self-harm. This isn’t a second hand interpretation but a sad reflection on a video that is still posted to his YouTube site.

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In my opinion he is suffering from a persecution complex the idea that there is a shady underworld out their calculating and plotting to bring him down. There is no doubt in the last decade we have see terrible practices of the now defunct News of the World and their appalling phone hacking scandal that eventually forced its owner to close the newspaper down.

Harvey still believes there are people out there plotting to bring him down because of his knowledge of the phone hacking scandal. He describes in a video that his ex-manager had him sacked in the 90s and deliberately targeted Harvey because of the things he knew about Tom Watkins. In fact it was Harvey’s reluctance to continue churning out pop music for teenage girls and his desire to be a credible R&B singer that made people realise they had enough.

At the time I remember there was an anti-ecstasy campaign aimed for teenagers because of the death of school girl Leah Betts who had died after taking an E. It seemed strange now before social media but it was a radio interview Harvey gave that said it was okay to do E as he had in one night and driven home that caused outcry and his immediate dismissal from the band. The public might not have taken their music too seriously but Harvey’s words meant a lot especially if they were listened to by impressionable young teenagers.

Harvey’s apology and retraction did nothing to quell the anger and his fate was sealed. It is now he’s claiming he is all part of a conspiracy and others too as well as a manager are out to silence him.

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I think there are loads of changes he could make to stop the cycle of persecution complex but then I am not a trained psychologist. Harvey wouldn’t make any money from the youtube videos as they aren’t receiving enough views to generate the revenue he claims he is relying (one assumes) on Employment support allowance as he has will have declared himself unfit for work. I only know this sort of side of things as I spent a year claiming this after my mother passed away.

Whatever your opinion of Brian Harvey I am sure that we can agree that he shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘some nutcase’ but genuinely needs help and a powerful intervention. He should find another focus in life that brings him joy not something that continually contributes to his low self-esteem and poor mental health.

When people pass

I am saddened and upset that someone should take their own life no matter the circumstances or how life seems it isn’t the answer.

Firstly, I have been there where I thought that ending it all was the option. The only option. It isn’t something I took on the whim of a moment but something that was very real and very personal.

A young lad sadly took his own life in my home town of Chester-le-Street and I posted the news on the facebook page I run about the town. I have written about the problem of suicide in the UK and how over six thousand people a year take their own lives.

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The number of suicides is slowly reducing but it is my opinion still very high. People don’t realise that words can do so much damage especially in times when people are feeling vulnerable and near to doing something that could put their own lives at risk. It’s not right to tell the person that everything is going to be alright or they should ‘cheer up’. In that very moment the person is feeling 0% of that. They do not see a way out of it.

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I don’t know how to but I want to help. I feel helpless that people are still taking their own lives. Even if it helps by writing this post and realising that you are NOT alone in those feelings I hope that I can do something.

There are organisations out there that can help and in my experience its always good to have someone you can trust and talk to when you are feeling low. These sort of friends are invaluable people who can guide you through tough times.

Even if you don’t feel you can share something so personal telling someone in the medical field can also give you a lifeline in a desperate time.

From my own experience keeping the NHS 111 number in your phone. Knowing that you might have other numbers is also a good way of knowing you have something to fall back upon like the Samaritans 116 123. They are fully trained and not there to judge but to listen and provide an amazing lifeline to those in need of help.

 

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.

 

 

Writing For Wellbeing

Misery is the way forward. Being grumpy that’s me. I thought it would be good to look at how I could tackle ‘negative thinking’ plus it gets me out of the house. 

I know that ‘a depression’ as the course leader called it, was something that I had, have been or whatever the way of talking about it is. I suffer from depression which at times is plainly shitty. I know that I am terrible at saying positive things about myself and find it easier to focus on the negative.

There are many pathways that our brain connects to and habit-forming beliefs are complicated with assumptions and thinking becoming hardwired. My brain sometimes works in ways I wish it didn’t – like I said to a friend today during one of the discussions –  that ‘my body works at 10mph but my brain at 90’. I wish sometimes it was the other way around.

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So was my wellbeing nourished and fed? Yes, think it was to a certain extent. I did get through most of the exercises quite well but one or two fell by the wayside as I started writing rude things. It’s not easy to start thinking about positive mental pathways on a Sunday – the morning after the day after the clocks went forward – making sure that getting out of bed this morning felt like I had just been liberated from an evil a sleep deprevation clinic.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Certainly to women AND men. Like most of these courses I have been on I seem to be the only bloke that attends. Well, apart from another chap but it looked like his attendance was court-ordered.

 

Parkland – Florida​

A town which remained unremarkable in history until this week. Things changed dramatically for it residents and it would never be the same again. 

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Sometimes you draw a breath and you are stunned about how much a country and its people can take without inaction. The fact that news agencies are arguing over what has been classed as a school shooting is a testament to the fact that these incidents are happening far too often.

Seventeen people are dead at the hands of a teenager with a gun. If you ever experience a fraction of the hurt that this causes someone surely a person with a rational mind says ‘enough is enough’ and this cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s no longer about rights to protect someone’s ownership of a gun but the lives of those who are innocent and slaughtered.

I said in my blog post from last year when the horrific shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.”

The USA has to realise it has a serious problem. The problem is gun control. This problem isn’t just of mental health, which isn’t unique to America, it is all over the world. It is how we respond to it out children and their children will judge us.

2018

If you follow this blog I firstly apologise for virtually no posts in the last few months. It’s not that I have been away or felt like that I needed a break it’s purely on the fact that I didn’t feel like saying anything.

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It’s a new year. I am still looking for work and hopefully, with a shake-up of my CV and application process, I am hoping the new year brings new opportunities. That’s what I am hoping.

I look back on the last year and I certainly made sure that I wasn’t going to have another one like 2016. That was an abysmal year not surprising after mother had just passed away. I spent the who year, what it feels like, lying in bed.

The year started with protesting against Donald Trump and his ban on Muslims travelling from certain countries to the USA. It was seen by some as a futile gesture but Trump has certainly got the message that his divisive rhetoric isn’t welcome in the UK.

I spent a night and day in a hospital during to a rather nasty infection which I stupidly ignored. To me, a throat infection wasn’t a serious condition but the doctors and nurses of the NHS thought differently and took care of me in an exemplary manner. Proud of our NHS.

I had a number of trips away to London and Prague and it did me the world of good. Getting out and enjoying places I was interested was good not only for my physical well-being but my mental health. This was part of my bucket list where I was challenging myself to take up and take part in things I have never done. This year I took part in a watercolour course. Something I have always wanted to try since I abysmally failed when I was a pupil at school.

There was an end to a friendship. Someone I really loved. It couldn’t continue. It is a long story and it sadly came to an end. But there are reasons why these things happen. I am now looking forward to 2018. Let’s see what happens.

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I don’t mind gay people just wish they wouldn’t be so gay.

The closet is a lonely place. Really lonely. If you aren’t true to yourself you will never find happiness or love. I spent the 80s and some of the 90s in the closet and it made me miserable. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone that I was gay because of the rejection and fear it would cause.

Footballers and pop stars are no exception. There is an underlining fear that if you do come out then somehow your life will never be the same and that’s true to a certain extent. There is a fear that you won’t be accepted in the wider world. Best to keep things quiet and live a heteronormative life.

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I said it hundreds of time ‘Im not gay’ not only to others but to myself. Its speculation and inquiry that has lead to a lot of denials. Social media rushes to defend those who have publicly denied their sexuality. But as I always argue it’s not about whether someone is gay or straight it’s about honesty.

We value honesty above other virtues. Sometimes it can be brutal to hear but I would rather know in the end. Denial of sexuality isn’t honest with others and most importantly yourself. I have experienced first hand the damage that it can do psychologically to someone who is struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.

I watched a programme about Liberace and how he was in utter denial about who he really was and his sexuality. Eventually, his denial would lead to his death as he contracted HIV and refused medical treatment for the condition. This maybe an extreme example of denial but ultimately and sadly it’s consequences.

I think when you are mature enough and brave enough you should tell people who you are. The ones who stick around and are with you years later are the ones who love you. There is a reason why those people are in the past. Things do get better and it may not be great at first. My mother didn’t speak to me for days when I came out to her but it did get better and we were closer than before.

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What do we do when someone we know commits suicide? How do we handle it? Do we mock them for being weak and ‘taking the easy way out’? Do we simply brand the person selfish? If only the answers to those questions were that simple.

I have tried to commit suicide. There I said it. I’ve wanted to. I don’t feel ashamed of saying it, but I am not proud of it. I don’t wear as a badge in a ‘feel sorry for me’ statement. My mental health has reached crisis point and it’s acknowledging that it’s got so serious.

Others have mocked people who have tried to take their own lives. A simple disruption to someones travel plans of a few minutes is met with derision on social media if they have found out that it was due to someone’s action at that critical point. It was someone on the lines or someone at the top of a building; cue the insults.

I don’t wish my worst enemy the thoughts of suicide. Believe me. If you have been there you know what it is like. Nothing that you could ever put into words or have a go at describing.

Chester Bennington’s death seems to some a natural consequence of a rock star lifestyle.

“He struggled for years with alcohol and drugs addiction” as is often reported in these cases. So do a lot of people, despite their wealth or fame, but suicide isn’t inevitable. It is the treatable manageable disease of depression which causes it. Depression and mental health problems aren’t helped by substance abuse although people seek short-term fixes to alleviate the suffering.

I have come to terms with my suicidal thoughts, I acknowledge them. If they get bigger than I can handle I know I have to seek help. Recognising they are serious is the first step. Stopping yourself getting to that crisis point by telling someone else you are feeling this way. I have done it numerous times. People will be happy enough to stick with you if they are good friends. It’s the pain of not reaching out to someone at that point that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes 

Sometimes when you are mentally unwell life can seem useless. The perception of you being a burden or a bore.

At the moment, I cannot shake off this feeling, so instead of bending my friend’s ears, I am turning to my writing.

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From the age of 14, Kenneth Williams kept a diary for much of his life. It is an impressive collection that the British Library has recently acquired and a testament to the great man of comedy. But the diaries were his confessional. His ‘other half’, the one you ‘sound off to and the person you usually come home to when your pissed and need to talk.

For many years I have done the same. I live on my own and I often need someone to chat and the diaries over the years also have become my companion. The writing I do for this blog is certainly censored and a diary is a true reflection of one’s state and feelings.

I was thinking back at a time when I didn’t seem to have a care in the world and the person that I was when I was in my 20s is not the person I am now. The depression came a few years after my father passed away, and it hasn’t left me since. So my outlook on life has changed dramatically. I don’t suffer fools gladly (others might disagree) and I don’t spend time, as I should, doing things I actually enjoy.

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