Hobby Time

What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I like reading, writing, playing computer games, going for walks, drawing, and finding new music. Stuff that seems to help me get more joy out of my day to day life. Things that keep my hands, and my mind, busy. Which, a requirement at how ‘doomsday’ the world seems right now.

My brain struggles to focus on things. So I think I am going to paint something’, and I simply stare at the piece of paper, and nothing happens. My brain just stalls. So then, I try to write a to-do list, to try and motivate me, as to-do lists do help when I have housework and stuff to do. But it doesn’t work with things I normally enjoy. Things become a chore, and any pleasure is gone.

Sometimes, I think that I like to do too many things, for the time I seem to be able to give. I have to learn, that I don’t have to do all of the things, all of the time. Which will take time. My mind still tells me that I have failed for not doing everything. It’s like, because I have failed on things in life, I think that everything I do must lead to failure.

Don’t Know What To Do

I feel lucky. I work a basic, entry level job, but I like it. The work I do helps me focus, and silence my over-thinking brain. There have been times, over the last year, especially, I have felt at the end of my tether, and work was all that kept me going. I can’t go for a pointless drive, I can’t pop round to my friends, I can’t go out for a coffee, but I can go to work. I have friends and colleagues that help me when I am struggling, mentally or physically. I have been in my current job for over 7 years, and I still get new challenges, and I like that.

Recently, I have come across a problem. A person who I work with, who doesn’t seem to like me. That, alone, is something that bothers me. I mentally go through every interaction between us, and ask myself what did I do wrong. Because, I assume that everything is my fault. I feel like that Labrador dog who wants to be everyone’s friend, and can’t seem to understand why not everyone wants to be a friend.

It’s not just that though. Several times, this person has triggered a panic attack in me, by speaking to me like I am an idiotic child. Thinking that they can speak down to me because I am younger than them. By inferring I am stupid, and by doing so right in my face, I panic. And, this person blocks me in, physically, so I can’t leave till they say their bit. Which is normally a rant, whereupon they are right and I am usually wrong. When I do have a panic attack, I am told to ‘grow up’. It has been going on for months, but it came to a head last week. After shouting at me, like I was stupid, I felt panic arising, so when they had finished I went to the toilets to calm down.

When I have a panic attack, my heart goes crazy. I start shaking really bad, and I can’t catch my breath. The panic becomes worse, and I will normally start crying. Which is embarrassing, and is why I prefer to have such things in the private space of a toilet cubical. So, I calmed down, and began to walk back to my work area. As soon as I got near, I started panicking again. And quickly I was doubled over, struggling to breath. When I had last spoken to my doctor, he had said that if there is a situation which triggers my anxiety, I need to take myself away from the situation. So, my panicking self caught the attention of management, and walked me to a break room, so I could explain what was happening. I said that I couldn’t work with this person anymore, as I need to look after myself and my mental health. The managers seemed to understand.

I feel stupid. I know I have to look after myself, but can’t help feel like it’s my fault. It’s not a nice feeling.

Sick of it all

I’m sick and tired.

I’m sick of constantly saying sorry for things I can’t help. But if I didn’t say sorry, I’d feel guilty.

I’m sick of having to explain why I feel like shit, when I ‘don’t look depressed’.

I’m sick of being a burden. Everyone has their problems, mines are just trivial.

I’m sick of being exhausted. Getting up and functioning takes all my energy, even worse if I have to try to be ‘happy’.

I’m sick of being called an ‘attention seeker’ behind my back. I thought we were friends.

I’m sick of letting people down. Be it a text, a phone call or meeting for a coffee, it’s so hard to interact with people when I feel like this.

I’m sick of crying all the time. When my anxiety hits hard, I cry a lot. It can happen anywhere, it usually happens after a panic attack, and it’s embarrassing.

I’m sick of being told that exercise/ healthy eating/bubble baths will cure my depression.

I’m sick. I have had problems with my mental health since I was a teenager. Asked teachers, and told it was hormones, and since then I have struggled. I try to muddle on, but sometimes I am at breaking point. I am maybe not the best friend, sister or colleague, but I am trying my best.

Please visit SAMH for advice and help on mental health at https://www.samh.org.uk

Role Model

A few years ago, I remember reading something (can’t remember where), which stated that a person’s personality was created by what they see around them. I thought this was interesting, as it was something I hadn’t thought of before.

The more I thought about it, the more I noticed it. I became aware of picking up phrases or mannerisms from people I liked. And if anyone had unfavourable qualities, I would stop myself from doing the behaviours I didn’t like. And people can do that automatically, based on some kind of instinct.

Then, I come on to the subject of role models. How many times have you opened a website, or a newspaper, to see headlines proclaiming that some pop star is ‘an awful role model to young girls’. People don’t ask to be role models, it is something that just happens. The image portrayed through media, often tries to show a person in a positive light. This positive light, is what can influence the behaviour of others. A lot of the time, there is very little conscious fault involved on either side.

It isn’t just kids who are influenced by the behaviours of people they admire. Everyone is. If you watch a tv show, about a person who adores baking cakes, you may see that joy in that person and think, ‘I’ll bake a cake too’. If you see someone, in your actual life, or on TV, who is motivated and works hard, it could push you to work harder towards your own goals.

And if someone, anyone, can encourage you to be a better person, there can’t be anything wrong than that.

Insta-hate Filled Hole

Over the years, social media networks have come and gone. Instagram, is a social network that I have used since I learned of it’s existence, back in my college days.

It’s the social network that provides me the most joy. I can post opinions, memories, or even wee stories of my day. And, in return, I get to see what other people create. I have made friends, followed artists and people that inspire me every day, and genuinely have fun on Instagram.

My profile. It’s full of nonsense, but that is me.

Instagram seems to get pulled up as the worst social media site, especially for the content that young eyes can find. People need to understand that social media sites run off what information you give it. What information and hashtags you may use, is what helps create the content you view. I think people need to be educated on how to use social media, before they start blaming it for everything. Social media makes money by curating a timeline that a user will interact with. Because heavy interaction, means there is more chance of adverts being seen, clicked on, and maybe sales made.

I follow accounts of artists, friends and people who post stuff that encourages me. I save topics like ‘alternative’, ‘Naruto’, ‘BlackPink’, ‘journaling’ and many more. I am not interested in fashion or make-up, so I find that I don’t get recommended pages of models and diet focused accounts.

My Instagram ‘explore’ page is mostly BlackPink. Which is fine by me.

Parents should always be aware of how social media sites work. Educate themselves. If you don’t like what you find, you protect your child. Teach them how to use social media responsibly, show what dangers lie on the internet. Because it should be taken just as seriously as dangers outside in the real world. If a parent refuses to understand how a site works, they can’t expect their child to.

My instagram is like a journal, a bit of a visual blog. I post what catches my attention, rather than just selfies of myself. I understand different people use it for different reasons, and that’s okay. But having such a outlet, has helped my mental health. If I am struggling, i try to go for a walk to take some pictures. And it really helps me gain some focus. It makes me sad that some people see everything on the internet as bad. To me it’s the opposite.

Escape

I have lived in the same area, since I was a child. I have been told that I need to ‘move somewhere else’. As if you can only experience life, if you have paid stupidly high rent for a teeny flat in a city. I will scoff at that, but at the same time, seeing friends buy houses, get married, and have kids, makes me sad. I work hard, but I stay with my parents, in my 30s. It’s very depressing. I have worked constantly since I was 16, and have tried previously tried college. I have struggled with my mental health, but ignored it for many years. And these feelings, of seeing friends ‘do more’, made me feel worse. I look at my life and see that I have wasted my time. Wasted a life. And that’s where depression takes hold. That if my life was worthy, I’d be in a different place.

Sometimes, I need to get away from these thoughts. And I do this by getting out the house, going for a drive, or for a walk. The good thing, about living where I do, is that there are so many good places to explore. I live on the Fife Coast, just across from Edinburgh, and I can easily get to the sea, or to the countryside. I can find peace, in walks on my own. With nothing but my own thoughts, where I can try and get my broken mind in some kind of order.

The thing is. Sometimes my over nostalgic brain would see any changes that have happened, and feel sad about them. Which, if you live in the town you grew up in, happens quite a lot. Walking down a set of stairs, can make you feel quite sad. Today, for example, I went into the town’s public park, somewhere where I went with my parents as a child, and friends as I got older, but hadn’t been in so long. And it changed. Not really for the better.

The play park used to have a lot for all kids, this is all that’s left. Two things.

The park felt a little unloved. Paint peeling off benches, broken slabs, empty planting areas, it seems a little neglected. Which maybe rings a little too true to me, in the metaphorical sense. It was peaceful, which is what I needed, but that was it. I am like that, functional, but not really making any marks.

There are a few of these in the public park. We used to say they were jail cells for the ‘bad people’.

Sometimes, usually after a few deep breathes, you can see things you have forgotten. The things that you haven’t noticed for years, or maybe haven’t seen before. The things you look at ‘through new eyes’, that look completely different.

The old friary. Hundreds of years old.

I started thinking today, that age seems to make a person more cynical. It begins to get harder to see past the negative stuff, because that’s what you’ve come to expect. So, maybe we need to remind ourselves to keep a part of a childish outlook. See things in a hopeful way, and look past the bad bits to see something positive. But that is hard.

Black Lives DO Matter

I am white. I have never faced any prejudice over my skin colour. I do have problems, but none of them relate to me being the race that I am. I have watched the news, watched as people around the world erupt into protest.

On the 25th May, just a matter of days ago, a deli owner in Minneapolis (Minnesota, US) phoned the police after they suspected a customer had tried to use a fake $20 to pay for some cigarettes. The man was George Floyd. Police arrived and the way they restrained and treated him, lead to his death. George Floyd was unarmed. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a police officer held his knee against George’s throat, and continued to do so even after George lost consciousness. It is awful.

How many people must die so horrifically?

James Corden asked ‘how can black people dismantle a system they didn’t create’? And it’s true. So white people shouldn’t be silent. We should educate those around us, and speak out. It is not enough to be simply not racist any more, we must stand as anti-racist. We must use our voice, use our privilege in a way that helps our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our families.

Retweet and repost true accounts on social media. Read articles from black writers, listen to their voices. Understand our own history, understand that a lot of this comes back to colonialism. Learn the history that the schools conveniently missed out. Understand where the privilege of being white came from, and understand the damage it does. Understand the anger, and demand change.

Click here for resources

Worked Out

I’m currently sitting on my break at work. I work in a warehouse, which is part of a large distribution network in the UK.

When people say they are key workers, it’s usually on the front line. Doctors, nurses and care staff. The people who need to be out working, to help those who are wick and need care. That what people assume a key worker is. But there is a whole lot of other jobs still working, banking services, supermarkets, take aways, people collecting bins, delivery folk and people who work in the hundreds of warehouses up and down the country.

These are the unsung heroes. People often tell me that my job is for the worst kind of people. Those people are still going out and working, so that people who can’t go out still get what they need. I’ve mentioned a few days ago, but being able to work has helped my mental health so much. I am not focusing on the news, I am able to focus on my job.

It is important that people remember those who are working. Those who are unable to stay at home. Respect workers. If you don’t value the workers, then don’t use their service.