Freefall

April 4, 2017

As I touched upon the last week, the panic attacks and anxiety that I have struggled with for all of my life have been getting  worse over the last couple of months. I know what started it off and I am still waiting for an explanation from someone complicit in those events. It was told by a close friend of mine who gets the same feelings when she has finished a big project that it could be that making it worse, and that is exactly where I was last week when all my fears and worries kicked into overdrive. The duvet days, the health complaints, the comedy vomitting sessions and all the other nonsense came back with a vengeance. 

I’ve been working on a major project until recently and my time has been quite regimented, it’s something that is actually going to make a big difference to some people’s lives and, most importantly, no one will get exploited or patronised anywhere along the way. Now though, I am back to doing the usual stuff again, mainly speculative work, and I’m finding it a little scary. I’ve found that if I don’t worry too much and just follow my ideas, and my augmented heart, then the resources to continue always land in my lap.  I can tell myself that rationally but feeling it is another matter. 

This morning though, Facebook came up trumps for once. Amidst the shoes, Japanese stuff and total lack of any local dross there was a memory from eight years ago. It was just an old piece of artwork that I had done, nothing spectacular but it took me back to where I was at that point, which was very mentally unwell, stranded in a strange town with no friend except for one frenemy who was systematically draining me of money and generally taking advantage of my good nature. It’s a horrible position to be in and it took me a long while to get out of, and even then I actually missed the person and the exploitative structure of my life at the time. We are odd creatures humans, we even miss and romanticise about the appalling stuff, bizarre! I hate seeing people being exploited, there is so much of it that goes on and it amazing just how many people keep getting away with it on some level or another. 

I can still remember the year of sleepless nights, the weird little acts of spite i had to injure. There was a year that I would describe as complete hell. Then, once my life had settled down, after a few constructive years of hard work on myself and building up a full and rewarding life to lead. I had friends, projects to focus on and I had to face all my fears and conquered some and learnt to manage others. It wasn’t easy, it never is, but it was a life and it was my own.

Then came along the state sponsored holocaust that is the employment and support allowance and around three more years of hell on earth. The sham medicals that would have done Joseph mengele proud, early morning queues outside the junkie central doctors surgery (now mercifully burnt down) for a sick note from a shit doctor that I wasn’t allowed to jettison until after the kafkaesque tribunal I had to undergo before the whole procedure started again. And all the while, where were the local great and the good? All those wankers who watched I am Daniel Blake and decided to have a meeting about it. I have no words, just a battery acid lick of disgust in my mouth for every sham socialist and their fickle, self congratulatory bullshit. John and Janey come latelys, the whole stinking lot of them…. And breath. And relax! 

The last couple of years have been no picnic either, but whilst the shit has flown like a sewage farm spilling out in a wind turbine I have pushed my life ever forward. Bigger shows, more merchandise, murals, workshops  and, most importantly, the learning from my many mistakes along the way. I’m not bragging here, I’m just trying to remind myself that I am not the worthless piece of shit that my mind is doing its best to tell me that I am today as it does on many days of late. 

This is where I’m at right now, waking up shaking, reminding myself that everything that has happened has happened for a purpose. I just keep telling myself this will be another kick start to a better place in life, like the lack of someone draining my funds and and getting out of the meatgrinder that is being mentally disabled and being on a government created sham benefit system before them. Is it working? Not really, well it doesn’t feel like it yet at least but I just keep trying. Through all the duvet days and the anxiety and my blood occasionally running cold, I keep telling myself that this is all good for me and that one day I shall look back at my chaos free, toxic people free, positive life and feel thankful that it all happened. Today, though, is not that day. Today is maggots under the skin, wasp larvae in my brain, time crawling, sod the futility of it all, crawl under the duvet and grab a few more snatched hours of oblivion awful. Then I look at all the work I need to do, the photoshop backlog, the tits and teeth schmoozing, the catching things before they turn nasty and some random deity forbid I actual make some art. That when the weight of it starts to crush me, and I spin out again, maybe I should learn how to cry on cue so a get a bit of sympathy from all and sundry.

One day though, one day. This will all be worth it.


The heart is deceitful above all things. 

March 27, 2017

What’s this all about eh? I woke up this morning and it should have been perfect. Sunshine gently finding its way into my relatively tidy flat, chocolate box view of toy town houses outside, freshly laundered cotton bedding, birds a twittering like those from a Disney cartoon. There was no rush to get up, just a few fiddly bits and bobs to do at my own pace, all in all it was everything you could wish for on a warm and sunny spring morning.

So why is my heart beating like a watch with a broken mechanism? Anxiety and panic are nothing new to me, I have dealt with it before I was old enough to give it a name and probably before I could give anything a name, thinking about it. It was it the air as a child, in the fabric of my family and in my bones and marrow before I could speak. What I’m feeling today is really odd though. It’s not like the heart trouble I experienced last year, no pins and needles, no numbness, no crushing pain , no exhaustion, this is something quite different. It’s anxiety of a sort I haven’t felt for a while, I’m sure I would if I were foolish enough to expose myself to crowds, noise or nasty people, as those are my main triggers, it would soon flare up and there isn’t a week that goes by without me throwing up through nerves at least three times (sorry to be gross), I’m used to that but since I’ve been taking beta blockers the constant feelings of anxiety mixed with panic have settled to distant background hum, not today though. 

Panic and anxiety are mercurial things, they sneak out wherever they can, in actions and in ailments and if we aren’t careful we can end up trying to attribute them to things that didn’t cause them just to give them a shape and a face we can confront. I am currently battling with my student loan deferment form, last year it caused me misery as I had to deal with it after being discharged from hospital, a battered and bruised mess, and before that it kicked off a very unpleasant situation that had horrible and permanent consequences… I could pin this feeling on that…. True, but it wouldn’t be the truth, it being a mild annoyance, nothing more. There are other things looming, big government wheels grinding towards my safe little world, personal goals not fulfilled, family stuff an ever present shadow but no, none of those, although I could fit them to the feeling with a bit of a squeeze. 

The avoidance of such feelings can often be more damaging than they could ever be themselves. I’ve seen awful things take place to people I care about for no other reason than the avoidance of a bit of conflict in the short term, untenable situations limp on for a lifetime rather than face a short span of emotional turmoil. It’s the spiritual and emotional equivalent of smoking, every day you carry on doing (or not doing)  the same old thing, not seeing the infinitesimally small changes until you look back and see how deep the cancer is and how far it has spread. It sounds dramatic but we only get one life and wasting it isn’t really much different from speeding its end. Loosing control of your life to false emotions is spiritual suicide by small degrees and it has tried its best to claim me and still keeps trying. Now though, when these dibilatating feelings try to push me over the edge, I push back. When someone tries to put me in a box I claw my way through the sides like a feral cat… except possibly less sane. 

So what is this? Where’s it come from? I just don’t know.

I just hope it will go away soon.


I’m only sleeping

January 16, 2017

I’ll let you into a little secret…

I’m not in a good place right now. There is a lot going on in my life that is out of my control and every action that I take is more likely to make matters worse. I’m one of life’s doers and as such this all feels deeply unnatural to me. This is stuff that can’t be rushed though and really I don’t know what I can do for the best. So instead I have to do nothing, and I hate it. I hate every single snail’s pace moment of it. I can distract myself for a while, find little projects to throw myself into but I am painfully aware of what I am doing and I hate every second of it. 

I used to deal with this sort of thing by self medicating but that just puts the problems on ice to thaw out another day. Doctor assisted medicating doesn’t fair much better though, or anything for that matter. All that I have is a persistent set of thoughts that rattle about my brain incessantly from the second I awake to the moment I fall asleep and I can’t do a thing about them. 

I mentioned the key word there, did you catch it? 

Sleep.

Noddy blinkums, night nights, snuzzles, naps, kipping, napping, forty-winks, bed-e-byes, the land of nod, up the wooden hill, catching some zeds. I can’t bear to be concious right now and at every given opportunity I try and turn my mind off and go to bed. I hate myself for doing it though, it’s such an utter waste of time, life is finite and there is so much to do but I just can’t deal with it. I’ve tried all that mindfulness crap, meditation, yoga, whatever and I can’t stand it or all the self indulgent garbage that it represents, it just makes me want to call in an air strike, napalm, incendiary bombs and fire (the metaphorical sort for government agencies and people with no sense of humour)  on the whole serene and jogging bottom wearing stinking lot of them. It doesn’t work, my brain knows when it’s being fucked with and mutates virus like to cope with all the trickery.

So instead I sleep, trying to wait it all out, hoping things will take a turn for the better whilst suspecting they probably won’t.  Knowing full well that a day will come when I look back at that wasted time and hate myself for doing it. 

But until that day comes I’ll sleep.

Goodnight! 


Christmas now

December 25, 2016

Pattern matching is a bugger. Amongst all the other issues I have collected over the years hypervigilance and pattern matching come into play today of all days. I look for indications of Christmases past, horror stories repeating themselves, rather than seeing what is really there, an endless string of possibilities. Even when I have had partners, those happy family Christmases have eluded me. What I need to remember is that they elude most other people too. 

There are several couples in St Leonards where I live who really seem to have a handle on things, after years they are quite clearly still into each other. I was told once that relationships that only exist in a bubble aren’t real… How badly they missed the point of love. You make your own world together, that bubble can expand to include others but the bubble is the core, the heart even.

That’s why Christmas only really works for narrow spectrums of people and for everyone else it is, at best, tolerated. If you see the people you see at Christmas all year round it is probably quite a nice affair, or if you actually get on with your family,  but when you are put in a position, like many, where life has taught you that your family are best avoided, or that you can’t wait to leave work at the end of the day so why on earth would you want to spend your free time with your work colleagues? Or that those people your partner has inexplicably aquired as friends quite clearly aren’t your friends, quite the opposite in fact. Christmas or indeed new year forces you into the company of these people and that is why so many arguments kick off. There is a reason you don’t see these people or you know well enough what the handling rules are so that you don’t get hurt. 

For me this is just another of those Christmases where I just have to be kind to myself and get to the end in one piece Where I have to acknowledge that by some I am quite pointedly being ignored or managed and where my usual lines of survival have been cut for this one magical day as all my friends I would call are off doing family things and I can’t even sit quietly and have a coffee in a seaside cafe as they are all shut. 

I’m still in bed, typing this instead of doing my usual idle Facebook scroll through as I can’t bear having my nose rubbed in it all. Christmas is a mirror and it will show me today that, no matter how hard I tried, my relationship failed and I really don’t want any more reminders of that thank you. I shall now get up, open my presents to me from me that I wrapped up with my eyes shut and I shall start this lonely Christmas Day….

Oh! Before I forget. This thing about choice… No one actively chooses to spend Christmas alone. It’s a bit like this choice… “Would you like me to poke you in the left eye? Or the right? It’s no choice at all right? With Christmas it is… Would you like to spend it with your own nightmare family and risk having a breakdown? Would you like to spend it with someone else’s family a and be reminded what a mess your own is? Or… Would you like to spend it with a bunch of sad singletons and try your hardest to convince yourself that you are having fun and it is all wonderful? As I said, Christmas is a mirror and a distorted funhouse one at that, it shows you at your worst, the things you let slide because you are too busy just getting on with your life to usually focus on them.

Ok… It’s nine in the evening, and if I give it a couple of hours I reckon i  will be able to go to bed and call it a day. While it wasn’t the best Christmas I have ever had, it’s been a long way from the worst. I got my coffee by the sea, so that was a step up from last year. I got contacted by lovely people. I got a few nice presents (mind you, they were bought by me so they had better be.) The day went quickly enough, the Japanese model kit (from me) took up most of it. There is something rather lovely about being able to sit down and idly make something, knowing full well that I, for once, won’t feel obliged to sell or market the bloody thing like everything else in my life. I can just while away a few pleasant hours making it and then stick it in a glass cabinet with all the others.

The best thing about this Christmas is that I shall forget it. A pleasantly dull day that won’t stand out in any way whatsoever and, at this point in my life, that’s the best I can hope for.


Because you’re worthless .

December 7, 2016

I’ve always struggled with low self esteem, for so long in fact that for many years I just assumed that was the norm and that everyone thought that way. That kind of thinking is all pervasive, it colours every area of your existence and it can still, to be honest, colour mine, however much work I do on myself. I’ve done cbt in various guises, online, books, one to one and in groups but, however much work I do on myself, it is still there, that gnawing feeling in the depths of my being that I am worth sod all. I can manage it better now, I avoid narcisists wherever I can now, those soulless empty shopfronts of people who act like they are the centre of the world and suck the life out of everyone else in the process. I avoid bullies too, as well as self righteous people and indeed anyone who intentionally or unintentionally damages me with their excessive demands or toxic view of the world. 

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was to cut a family member out of my life, they put me through humiliating situation after situation, making me do demeaning things, shouting and screaming at me, making me feel like dirt over and over again. Yet I clung on, thinking that they would improve, they would change… They never did. Then once the fateful day came that I finally snapped, my life turned around, it was so much better without this negative force in my life. I’ve had a couple of friendships like this too in my time and, in both cases, their absence finally was the best thing about them.

The hardest thing though, as someone with low self esteem, is becoming involved with someone whose is far worse than yours. I have learnt the hard way to avoid toxic people and situations but the problems start when you let someone in your life without those kinds of filters. It’s like someone unintentionally treading dogshit in on their shoes onto your brand new cream coloured carpet. You can, if you aren’t careful, be left in a position where you have to compete for attention with the vilest of people. It’s impossible to compete against the kind of predators that are attracted to those with low self esteem, they can never have enough attention, it’s like trying to fill up a black hole with a thimble. The only thing I can do is keep my head down, get on with my stuff and pray for a miracle to happen. It probably won’t though. 

It’s a sad day when the list of people and activities  you seem to be less important than reads like something out of a Tom Sharpe novel or the works of Jonathan Swift. An effluent stream of grotesqueries, each more ridiculous than the one before. It takes a lot to understand, under those circumstances, that it really isn’t about you and all you can do is stand back and wait for the inevitable disaster to befall and hope it is in terms of months rather than years in the coming. There are other options, but none I like very much. 

Although it is a contradiction in terms, I am quite positive for a depressed and therefore negative person, I have a basic faith in human nature but in having that faith you open yourself up for disappointment. I also believe in the power of love, fool that I am. I believe in right and wrong and I genuinely feel that people can change for the better… And yet…

And yet the world seems to constantly prove otherwise. 


I am a human doing.

November 6, 2016

At about ten minutes past three in the afternoon of the 3rd of November I nearly died or, to be more precise, I almost killed myself. I got stuck in an existential loop at a therapy session and couldn’t fathom a way out of it. Ok… Without boring you to death, the basic existential dichotomy is this… You are going to die. As Jim Morrisson put it, no one here gets out alive. There is no escaping it. 

Until we learn to speak dolphin it is safe to say that we are the only species truly conscious of our own mortality and we cope with it in many ways, most of which involve some sort of deity or afterlife, some fuzzy idea that instantly makes all the pain and futily make sense. This is a trial run, a test, a work in progress for something better. Without that belief, faith if you will, that people kill, maim, torture and fight wars for, we have to come to terms with the idea that that is it, gone in cosmic terms in the blink of an eye. So, without that belief, what are we? What is the point of us? And at times when life is less than super fun, what is the point in going through the motions any more? This is particularly pertinent right now as I am not in a good place physically, mentally, financially or geographically. Whilst I can always remind myself that there is always someone worse off that me, when I have days when I hide under the duvet or my health and heart problems are exacerbated by the cold of the flat I can’t keep warm all day or I watch as another opportunity to get further forward with my career slides away for the money people I know spend on a holiday, or I watch as I see how greedy, pushy people, twist events and indeed people to their own selfish ends and grandiose schemes, it’s just as easy to remember the rich, sitting on a beach somewhere, screaming at their pa because their nail varnish is half a shade out. 

As jabba the hut once said, “your mind tricks don’t work on me” My own or other people’s all those lies we tell ourself just to keep soldiering on just slide off me like I’m teflon coated. Which is the problem now, I am treatment resistant, I’ve peeked too long behind the Wizard’s emerald curtain and can see how it all works. It’s easy to pass it off as cynicism or pessimism, I wish it was as simple and banal as that, things would be so much easier. 

The latest trend in therapy is mindfulness, developing the ability to live in the moment, to observe thoughts and feelings with an element of calm detachment and then let them go. It’s not a new idea and much of it is stolen from Buddhism and other eastern religions / philosophies and , to a point, it works… To a point… 

One of the repeating mantras in my recent counselling sessions was “You are a human being not a human doing!” As a healthy, fully rounded, homo sapien I am supposed to revel in my own exhistance, enjoying the sunshine, watching the clouds float by, appreciating and observing every moment and letting go of all my baggage in the process. I appreciate the idea and it can, if used wisely, help provide a release valve from looping crushing thoughts, but in my view, it never actually fixes anything, only delays the moment where you have to face what has caused the hurt in the first place and actually move through it. It’s a bit like constantly holding open a train door, you can prolong the inevitability of getting to your destination but you will have to get there one day or frustrate a lot of people in the process. Or you could not, you could just spend your whole life burying your head in the sand until the day you die and have precisely nothing to show for it except just being. 

Don’t get me wrong just being is ok and if that is how you choose to spend what may be your one and only life on this planet then great, you do that but personally I would feel short changed. The idea of a life of passivity and mediocrity appalls me, this life we are given is a gift and if I just let it float past I might as well die right now. The society of the Spectacle, the great Situationist manifesto by Guy Debord posits that humans need to truly live, to actively engage and do things that are ‘real’. To me, authentic living is about making a mark, feeling that in some small way the world was better for me being in it. A wry smile came to my face whilst typing that as I can think of about twenty people off the top my head who while not actively wishing me dead would probably be quite happy if I died, but then again they are all complete arseholes so I regard that as a sign that I’m doing the right thing. 

I am happy to regard myself as as much a human doing as a human being, I am prolific with the amount of stuff I do but I always want to do more. I feel a constant frustration with my own human limits and the amount of ideas I have and knowledge and skills I wish to absorb is constantly limited by this failing human body and a brain that is constantly on the fritz and financial constrates and the annoyance caused by the frankly mad and frustrating actions of others close to me makes me go crashing into brick walls as I did Thurday last when the combination of my existential / situationist outlook coming into contact with a session of, how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin?, quick fix therapy had the same effect on me as someone sneakily building a concrete wall across a motorway.

I avoided the close encounter with the business end of a lorry, I passed the pier without walking off the end with coat pockets full of stones and I steered clear of the sharps until bedtime and steadily over the course of four days of duvets and crawling up walls I got my mojo back a bit to the point where I didn’t actively want an off button and remembered, I am a human doing, a human making, a human drawing, a human teaching, a human reading, a human thinking and hopefully a human achieving, granted it might all be totally pointless and futile in the grand scheme of things but there is one more thing I am, a human trying. Very trying according to some. 


That last moment…

October 25, 2016

I’ve been trying to capture the time, that second, between the blissful first fuzzy moment of waking and the next when all the worries of the world start falling in. I’m sure you, the reader, know the feeling as well as I do, maybe you are fortunate enough not to experience it every day but I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about. It’s most pronounced at times of grief, particularly if you had so much on your mind that it took forever to get to sleep in the first place and every precious moment of it counts. I felt it worst when my father died, like a Chuck Jones cartoon piano dropping on my head each morning, right now it’s just a sledgehammer, aren’t perspectives strange? A sledgehammer seeming pleasant.

Back when I used to have a “proper job” there was a distinct quality to my wakings, jolted into action by blaring music in the dark, knowing that the day was not my own and would be dedicated to the pursuit of things that would be profoundly pointless in the scheme of things. It is rare, for me, to experience the dreaded alarm clock now and when I do I am on a mission rather than a chore and it is usually worth the effort.

There are some days that are so hard to get through, when being awake with my thoughts is unbearable, then I go to sleep at midday. On days like these it’s strange, the waking thing just isn’t the same second time around, maybe it’s the unnatural pattern to it but that nice fuzzy moment is not there, it more like pausing a DVD, a “now, where was I.” moment.

My waking state for the last year of so has settled down to constant loop of sadness, frustration and regret that I desperately need to distract myself from and aside from a fitful time in hospital of beeping things and restricting cables and tubes thus seems now to be my lot in life. At times like these, those couple of seconds are extra precious and some days they can be the best part of the day… What a sad thought! 


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