Music To Smile To

Music is the soundtrack to our lives. It may not make life any easier, but the right song can help lift your mood. The right song can take you back to the right time or place, remind you of a specific person, or help you sing your way through a bad day.

To make me smile, music needs to have a good beat. I have never been a fan of slow ballads, as I find them a little boring. I prefer something that I can tap my feet to, have a dance, or sing along to. The good thing, is that is there are so many different types of music. Something for every taste. The world would be boring if everybody liked the same thing.

So, what songs make me smile?

1) The Stereophonics- The Bartender And The Thief

2) The Ramones- I Wanna Be Sedated

3) Hanson- Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’

4) Skerryvore- Simple Life

5) Iron Maiden- Two Minutes To Midnight

6) BlackPink- Playing With Fire

7) The Bouncing Souls- Lean on Sheena

8) Reel Big Fish- Sell Out

10) Artmesia- Bits and Pieces

Good Acting?

I have been struggling a lot recently. I have been in a lot of pain when trying to move, which has been causing problems with the most basic activity. I still get up and manage to work, and try to focus on anything but pain. Putting a smile on my face, and try to live in the moment, where I am focused on what I am doing, rather than focus on how I am feeling. Which helps me get through every day, because if I don’t, the day would be unbearable. But, because I do try to do my best every day, people tend to not think I am struggling as much as I make out.

It makes me wonder, have I really got that good at pretending, or is it simply easier for people to not take someone seriously when it comes to health problems? I, of course, don’t want to think anyone would dismiss anyone’s health problems. But, it still comes to mind. I have been accused of making my health problems up. Like, because of my arthritis, I have bad grip, but sometimes my hands swell more some days. These days, I may have to approach my manager to do a different job, because of the pain (and the real risk that I could drop and break something). I have been accused of co-workers of making things up, because I don’t want to do a job. Which annoys the hell out of me, I would never dodge out of any work. But sometimes, I have to put my health first, and if something is too strenuous, I have to speak up.

Today has been a good day. Luckily for me. Where I am conscious things are still stiff and swollen, but I can work through the pain easily. It does happen. I could put on my jacket today, and pull on my socks with ease. Most days, however, this is not the case. And I struggle with the most basic task. People make jokes at work when I wear a baseball cap, when the truth is my arms couldn’t lift the brush high enough to sort my hair out. But I laugh with them, because I’d rather laugh at the oddity of the hat, rather than focus on the tears I had trying to get tugs out of my hair.

I guess, my point, in a roundabout way, is that you never know what anyone is going through. I am usually at my best when at work, because I am moving around, loosening my joints, and my mind is focused on what is in front of me. That is part the story of my health issues, but it is not the whole story. And, you will likely never know a person’s ‘whole story’, only what they decide to share. So, if they share something difficult, don’t assume it’s nonsense, because the side you see seems fine.

Circular In Motion

Isn’t it boring, when you feel like you are going round in circles, retreading steps you’ve already taken. The new experiences that are supposed to make up life, don’t seem to be all that new, for you.

I think that working full time, helps that feeling. Same shifts every week, which sees you go to do the same work, every shift. The same nonsense conversations. Running headfirst into the same brick wall, over and over again, when all you want to do is try something new.

I know complaining about my own situation seems rather self-centred when others are dying in Wars, all over the world. And some days, with the constant pain, the repetitive routine, and the thoughts of never being enough, defeat me. I should be embarrassed. I am embarrassed.

Doesn’t stop me trying again tomorrow, though. Trying to change things, and make it better.

Weighing It Up

I weighed myself today. For the first time since the start of November. It is an activity which is loaded with meaning, because despite never being ‘a slave’ to the scales, it’s still a thing that lingers. It’s existence is enough to get me into a bit of a state. So, when I weigh myself, like I did, and I ended up being just under 16 stone, I could have cried.

For too long, the number on the scales or the size of one’s waistband, has been used as a way to identify people. People who a person has never met. There are a number of personality traits, which have, falsely, been connected to people who are overweight. Laziness, stupidity, dirtiness, rude, many more things which seem to be tied to a person being overweight. All without merit.

My weight has been a problem for years. I have faced comments about my weight since I was at school, back when I weighed way less than I do now. I always had a stocky build, my Grampie used to say I was ‘built like a rugby player’. This was enough for me to be bullied. And for me to understand that my weight is a reason for me to be seen as a horrible person. My mental health suffered so much, and eventually i turned to food to cope. I could eat away my problems. A coping mechanism I still have to this day.

I watched a video recently by a personal trainer on TikTok (Gavin McKinney) who said that using food as a coping mechanism was a good thing. It helps people cope with bad stuff, and means they are still here to see another day. When I tell you I cried after seeing that video, I mean I cried my eyes out. So the first think that needs to be done, is a find a new way to cope. Because if you don’t find a new way to cope, food is going to look like the answer again. That should not sound as revolutionary as it feels.

I am having problems with arthritis in my knee, and I want to make my health better, to ease the pain. Make myself feel better. Because that’s why things should be done, to improve one’s life, right?

I may repeat myself, as I try to figure all this out.

Brighter Days Are Coming

If you frequent any website that gives mental health advice, you’ll have probably noticed mentions of SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder). A form of depression which is dependent on the seasons. There is a belief that it comes from a lack of sunlight, as the season SAD is more prominent is Winter. The short days can mess with a person’s whole mental well-being. As a person who has suffered year-long depression, for as long as I can remember, I never gave the idea of SAD much thought.

I only started thinking about it, properly pondering it, today. Where I was very aware of a sudden lift in my mood, seeing the sky a little brighter on my way to work. I leave my house at around 6.15am, to get the 6.30am bus to work, and finish work at 6.30pm. So, for the last few months, I have gone to work in the dark, and came home in the dark. I did think it was exhausting, but I put that down to me being sore (I am in pain a lot).

The sun is starting to come up, as I leave for work in the morning.

Walking to work I saw the sky being a bit brighter, and I could feel my mood improve. I think because I had been struggling physically and mentally anyway, sometimes the smallest thing can make a difference. When I walked to work in the dark, it’s like the world is still asleep. The sun rising, is like the world waking up. It makes me feel better, maybe like I am not the only one awake.

So, all day I thought about the day s getting longer, and how it means more can happen. Or it feels like more can happen, as the world will be all bright once I have finished work. I can’t wait to be honest.

To find a niche?

I have been writing on many personal blogs over the years. They are places where I can write, a thing I love to do, but a thing I am incredibly subpar at. In spite of that, I have continued to use blogging to help relieve any stress I feel about my day to day life. Something that is beneficial to a person’s well-being. However, I have hit a rut over the last few years, due to finding it difficult to post, as I feel, like most people at the moment, that I complain about the same things. And, who wants to read that.

So, I search for advice on how to make things more exciting. Mostly, because I don’t want to bore the few people who do read this blog when I post. And, what is the advice? Find a niche, your audience. Make your site profitable. Honestly, I didn’t start this blog to make money, it never even popped into my mind. When I started up, I was studying digital design, and this blog was supposed to be a way for documenting my journey, as a designer. Something that went incredibly well, as my current job in a warehouse proves.

I think that is where I am different from a lot of people who keep blogs, especially these days. Everything some writers do is about making money. It’s about sponsored posts, how many clicks the links on your pages get, more than about the actual content. I have spoken to other creators, and when I tell them my blog is over 10 years old, they don’t understand why I’d do it for myself and not money. It has happened so often, that I find myself questioning if it is me who has the wrong grasp of things.

I like to write about myself. About my mental health problems. About things I like. About my arthritis. About experiences I have. It’s maybe not exciting enough to make me money, but it does my brain the world of good. Personally, I prefer to read blogs that are personal, ones that don’t feel like a constant advertisement for products no one needs. I like to follow someone’s journey through life. I’d like to think that my blog is like that. Well, at least a little bit, although it seems I am simply complaining all the time.

Doing well (not)

So, my plans to be productive have fallen by the wayside already. And we are only in the first week of February. Which, has me feeling pretty depressed about things. Not that it takes much.

But setting a plan should involve understanding that things aren’t concrete. Which is something that I am trying to learn. It is disappointing when you fail to achieve something, and sometimes it feels like complete failure. And sometimes, it feels like all you get in life is failure, after failure. Like, I try to do things, but just end up going round in circles.

It is something that is very frustrating. A big thing that is a problem, is that my attention lapses too soon. So I lay out tasks to do, and do them successfully for a few days, and then get bored. I have no further motivation to do the tasks I had planned on. And, I can’t seem to stop this from happening. Which is super frustrating.

So, I am trying to change how I think about plans and goals. I need to stop thinking of them as something that can’t be change. Any goals that I have should work with me, I shouldn’t have to constantly feel like I am drowning because my aims are too out of reach. I just maybe need to learn how to plan to my needs better.

Effort

Everything costs effort. Doesn’t matter if it is waking up. Making breakfast. Brushing teeth. Everything costs effort. And sometimes, it’s hard to see what actually would be worth any effort at all.

For me, I find it extremely difficult to spend effort on anything which doesn’t grab my attention. So, things that should be part of a daily routine, gets forgotten about. It can happen with food, where I may get to a point of the day where I am dizzy, and realise that I haven’t eaten anything. I forget to brush my hair, and only remember when someone else comments on it. It has always been a thing that happens, and I’ve never known how to explain it to people.

Sometimes it feels like there is simply ‘too many steps’.

Normally my forgetfulness doesn’t really cause a problem, as I can function. I go to work, I do things that are ‘normal’. In fact, work is the one routine I always keep to, and whilst at work, my brain is normally on task. Effort isn’t a thing that is worried for. When I am not at work, in the mornings, in the evenings, there can be problems. I will decided I will shower, but instead stare at a wall, and by the time I get together the effort needed to get up for the shower, the moment has gone. I find it hard to reason why I should even care. It doesn’t change anything.

It sounds gross. Disgusting. And why I have sat on draughts of this post for the last week. It’s something I feel that I need to talk about, to help me work out my thoughts. I mean, that, ultimately, was always the point of me writing in a blog. Documenting my life and figuring myself out. Luckily, there are so many resources on the internet, resources that can help someone find answers.

It’s hard. Figuring out how to figure out your own mind. You just need to make yourself believe that you are worth the effort.

Welcome to 2022

When I was younger, the New Year seemed to mean more. Like, it felt there was new possibilities, anything could happen. Then, over the last few years, stuff has been rubbish, for everyone, and now a new year has been welcomed with a sigh and a roll of eyes. It’s feels more like ‘here we go again’, rather than ‘more new adventures’. And it’s all a bit sad.

Having the privilege to greet another year, is something a person should feel thankful for. Something that not everyone is able to do. So it’s nice to stop, and recognise where you are and what you do have. I, for instance, am surrounded by people I love, have a roof over my head, and am getting closer to finding some resolution to the health problems I’ve plagued with for years. I don’t recognise it enough, I always look at the negative, but a person shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling grateful.

I think that is something that I always want to change, with each progressive year. Look at the good things that happened, as my brain does have a tendency to focus on the negative side of life. It’s hard though. I sometimes think the world around us, wants us to focus on the negative things, and it would just be to tell us more stuff. Because that’s how things work.

So, this year. I am trying to recognise the nice things more. Try and train my brain to really enjoy the good stuff. Things like taking myself out to lunch, grabbing a coffee with friends, or relaxing with a good book. Things, that don’t mean a lot, in the grand scheme of things, but things that help make the tediousness of life, a little more bearable. Because right now, the most common way I make myself feel better, is to spend money. It is usually on crap, like things I don’t need. Packets of crisps, cakes, notebook, pens, magazines, fizzy juice, i just throw money out the window.

So, in line with making myself recognise the good things in life, I want to control my finances more. So making myself happy without spending money. I am also looking to improve my credit score, by sorting out some old debts. I don’t know if you were aware, but depression and anxiety leaves me being a little ‘head in the sand’ when it comes to dealing with things like debt. So yesterday, on New Years Day, I got in contact with companies, and set up payment plans. I also started a new savings account. These small steps can hopefully help me in the future, as I can get rid of this shadow which seems to overlap everything.

Anyway. That’s my plans. Nothing too solid, which I think is best in current circumstances, but definite improvements.

I wish all readers a very happy 2022, and I hope you achieve all you set out to achieve.

Painful

I write on here a lot, about my mental health. How I deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s not the only health issues I have, though.

I have had muscular problems since I was at primary school. Nothing serious. But I would take my dog a walk, where she would pull on her lead, and my arm would ache, afterwards. I would get sore hands for carrying heavy school bags. I would go to the doctor, and like most things when you are a child or teenager, hormones were apparently to blame. I then worked in a bakery, as my first real job. Did it for about 4 years, and would have awful pains in my hands and elbows. At this point, the doctor’s diagnosis changed from ‘hormones’ to ‘tendonitis’. And they just gave me ‘prescription only’ strength Ibuprofen.

The pains never went away. But, I always got the impression I was an annoyance, so I stopped going to the doctor unless it became unbearable. I am also deeply aware that this is when my mental health became a big player. And my anxious brain tells me everything that I do, is a waste of time. So I would always talk myself out of calling for help. I would just manage it myself, with hot showers and baths, and buy off the shelf basic painkillers. Nothing would ‘take the pain away’ but it took the ‘heat’ off a bit.

As I have got older, the pain has got worse. A lot worse. Focusing around my feet, ankles, and hands. So, I was recommended by my work’s Occupational health department, to try again with the GP. I did, and I eventually got a referral to a rheumatologist, as rheumatoid arthritis is a big problem in my family. I finally felt I was getting somewhere. I had the initial appointment, with x-rays, scans, and a complete head-to-toe check. The rheumatologist believed that I definitely had signs of arthritis, as there was some deformation in my ankle, and concerns about my hands too. Great. He would get in contact for the next appointment.

Except, with COVID, I never heard anything. I phoned the rheumatology department, and no answer. I left messages, and no one got back. I called my GP, and they said my referral was still with the hospital. My anxious mind, once again gets involved, and lets me know that if it was really serious, they would help me. So, once again, I found myself really struggling to call up. So I found an email address for rheumatology, and I emailed them. Explained I had been trying to contact them, but had nothing. And it was they who were supposed to contact me. After 2 weeks I had a message left on my answering machine on my mobile phone. The message explained that because I had only had my first appointment, and no follow-ups. Too much time had lapsed. I had been referred back to my GP.

I was in my car. In the Tesco car park. Crying. Properly in bits. I felt like, after the best part of a year, I was back at square one. And things were getting worse. My shoulders have been agony for the last 7-8 weeks. I haven’t been able to sleep, and nothing seems enough to get referred again. I am exhausted.

Sometimes I think, because I work, because I try to push through it. I am treated as if my problems aren’t serious. My mental health is better when I work, as it is the only routine I can keep. And for a lot of my pains, being physical, actually loosens my sore joints, and helps with pain. Until I stop, and everything ceases up again. Sometimes it can take 25 minutes for me to get dressed, because my movement is so restricted because of the pain.

I barely have the energy to go to work. I struggle through my job. I am just very fortunate that my management, and the folk I work with, try to understand and help when I am having problems, be it mentally or physically.

I am at the point where I have tried 4 weeks before I was able to get a GPs appointment, and they just gave me stronger pain killers. She actually said to me ‘would you like a sick line, that might help you be seen quicker’. Why? Because your problem is thought of as serious when you are unable to work. How ridiculous does that sound?

Every day feels like a ‘no bones day’ or a day where I am running on half spoons. I am so exhausted all the time.