Jul. 28th, 2017 03:06 pm
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When I mentioned not wanting to go out (again) in the torrential downpour, in a Facebook post about making plans for this evening, someone left a chirpy comment about how I chose to live in Manchester and it rains a lot in the UK, especially Manchester....

...I got so mad I wrote a comment about how picking the one where I could have healthcare didn't seem like much of a choice. But they probably won't have seen it because I deleted the whole post, without even really realizing that's what I was doing, immediately after.

Yeah, I guess I have been a bit touchy lately, particularly on the subject of not feeling like I have much control over my life.
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Acting like a stereotypical depressed person today. Still in my pajamas, spent way too much time on twitter, only eaten pizza and chocolate today. Strangely, none of that's helped!

But in the last hour or so I walked the dog, did the smallest bit of tidying, talked to Andrew about some of the stuff that's bugging me. So this evening has been slightly better than today.

(I also found that gmail is a dick: a scary e-mail I thought I sent a whole week ago (saying "I cannot continue volunteering with this thing any more because it's too stressful I need to concentrate on looking for paid work" (well, they're both true...)) didn't fucking send so I've sent it now but have to stress again for a while about every new e-mail I get. Because yay, anxiety making me avoid confrontation.)


Jul. 18th, 2017 11:48 pm
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It would be nice to have one goddam day with no nap needed in the evening, no anxiety attack in the wee hours, no debilitating headache...

Yesterday was anxiety attack in the middle of the night again. Today was blinding headache so I was in bed by eight o'clock (I'm awake again now to tell you this because somebody thought 11:30 on a Tuesday night was a good time to set off fireworks that sounded like they were right outside my bedroom window).

Something every day. Seems kind of crazy I'm trying to find work again, when these symptoms are worse than they've been in years.
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I have been really quiet here lately -- reading a lot, commenting as much as I can, but having nothing to say for myself. For the simple reason that depression has been kicking my ass.

I'd been so anxious before this that now that the anxiety's gone I have nothing sufficiently stressing me out for me to do it. I've been sleeping a lot because what's the point of being awake? I've been failing to apply for jobs either because I misremembered the deadline or because I decided a few months of badly-paid admin wasn't worth applying for, even if it is for a charity I care about.

I follow lots of things for immigrants, disability, and queer people on Twitter, and when they advertise job vacancies I sometimes apply because I care about these things, but something always goes wrong. It's not a very good process to find a job, but I'm wary of stepping into the big world of job hunting because it tends to give me panic attacks and because I know most jobs would just make me more mental in six months than I am now. And I'm at far too high a baseline of mentalness right now to risk that.

I really need a low-stress job and so many things stress me out, and it's not something you can filter for. "Are the people who work here nice? Will they yell at me for things I don't know how to do?" These questions are not easily answered; it's probably no surprise a lot of my jobs have come from knowing someone who already works there, which helps answer these kinds of questions. But that's not something I can wait around for, either.

I have lately been harboring fantasies of going back to college (university, I'd have to learn to call it), which is surprising, frankly. And no help at all.


May. 1st, 2017 07:29 am
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I'm unfollowing people on Twitter and deleting photos from my phone and it's all a proxy for what I really wish I could do, which is turn my brain off and back on again.

I got two or three hours' sleep last night. Racing, intrusive thoughts.


Apr. 6th, 2017 11:19 pm
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On Monday night I wrote
I've been so homesick and regular sick and just out of sorts generally. For weeks. Tonight I went to yoga for the first time in a whole (haven't been because I've been sick) and I'm home just in time to see my baseball team's Opening Day game.

And the combination of physical tension relieved at yoga & mental tension relieved by hearing familiar accents talk about beloved things has been SO GOOD for me. I can't even tell you.
Of course it hasn't lasted. Today things have seemed horrid on every level from ominous health news for people I love to horrible politics I don't want to talk about.

It all left my nerves jangly and everything seeming too noisy, too much, too difficult today.
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I had enough sleep, did some cleaning in preparation for in-laws descending on us (vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, took out a lot of garbage which is hard to do when your bin has been stolen!), was sociable with them for a couple hours, did two loads of laundry, walked to Burnage and back to fetch Gary after the second half of his holiday there...

...and still feel like I've done nothing and am way behind already and need to get started.

This is the problem I have with all this New Year motivation and ambition...doing what I do never feels like enough.

Though really this problem has been going on since I got back from my parents', just because I think I felt so frustrated there and so badly missing all the things I couldn't do, from going to the gym to working on my book, that now in the evenings when the day has calmed down I just feel exhausted and overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything but waiting for it to be bedtime.

I think I'm finally caught up on sleep, which I didn't need so much for feeling-tired purposes as my-brain-needing-to-sort-things-out purposes. I don't feel like that's happened but at least I was able to do all the chores and stuff today.

And I'd have gone to the gym if they'd been open past four; I've been hampered by their reduced hours since I got back and am looking forward to it getting back to normal tomorrow. And to stores being open normally again tomorrow -- we need food, too.

Maybe I'll get back to normal tomorrow too. My normal isn't so great that I'm really looking forward to getting back to it, but it's better than this.
hollymath: (Default)
Somebody asked me how I'm doing and I said "i have no idea because I'm decoupling the things I have to do from any emotions or opinions I might have had about them."


Nov. 9th, 2016 09:42 am
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...I guess even citizenship of the rainy fascist island looks more appealing now! Because it won't take as long to fix.

But now I really don't know how I'm going to finish this damn book about it!

My mental health hasn't been this bad since my brother died. I'd be pursuing more/different/better treatment if I didn't know it'd all been defunded! The accumulation of all the micro and macro things of this year has finally completely ruined my ability to look after myself and do the sensible things that need doing.

I feel so fragile right now,
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Interviewing for it finished today.

Tonight I got an e-mail that said "colleagues were interested in your passion and campaigning experience," apparently. This is more feedback than I was led to expect and it's nice -- even if I suspect it's nice because they want to talk to me because of my new One Day Without Us hat.

I'm great at work, as long as no one else wants to do it and it doesn't pay.
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...am I supposed to write a book now about being an immigrant. About what immigration in the UK is like.

(I will -- don't fret, Kickstarter backers! But I'm so sick and sore of the subject now, I feel like I have either nothing to say or else I have to put my bleeding heart on the page and I don't want to do that. I need to find words for things there are no words for. And I just don't know yet how I can do that. But I'll try as hard as I can, I promise.)
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When I came back from Minnesota at Christmas, I was suddenly very aware that there were a lot of things I'd been meaning to do around the house that I had been ignoring, which I now felt I had a deadline for because I knew my parents were visiting late spring/early summer.

They get here on Wednesday. I've done precisely none of those things: didn't even get a quote for the front garden getting sorted out, didn't do much about the downstairs redecorating I want, didn't plant anything outside (though to be fair there was snow outside a week ago...), didn't do the million little DIY jobs or hang pictures or anything. Hell I haven't even been able to get rid of the broken computer or vacuum cleaner (though those are more recent problems as they only broke in the last month or so!).

Slightly more importantly, I haven't sorted out a better bed for my parents to sleep in: our spare room is tiny so the bed in there is tiny (not quite a normal double-bed size), and it's pretty unfair to ask old people (especially one very tall and one with a lot of health problems) to sleep on for ten days.

I'm so disappointed in myself, even angry with myself. Andrew can tell me all he wants (and he's had to; I've had more than one little meltdown about this, most spectacularly two weeks ago in the middle of the night when I couldn't stop thinking about all this stuff and then I couldn't stop crying...) that I've been busy and ill and had to do all the things he's not been doing because he's been ill...but it doesn't make me feel any less angry or upset or stressed. I can tell myself, and others can tell me, that it shouldn't matter what state my house is in, that it should just be nice to have my parents here and that's what matters...but they've never been here with so few plans before, so little to do but comment on my house.

Which I've always felt self-conscious about around them because I know they don't like the very concept of terraced houses and would never live this way. And while I know they had apartments and ilttle places to live when they were first married, too, that was a hell of a long time ago, and anyway by the time they were my age they had two kids and lived in the house they do now, which is big and sprawling and very nice (though my mom did take a long time to get rid of the seventies-colored avacado-and-brown everything in that house, so maybe she will understand about why the terrible wallpaper is still here!).

We have no plans partly because they were landed with a huge medical bill for my mom's latest terrifying health crisis a couple of months ago, yay America the greatest country in the world. So now they don't really have a lot to spend here, and the trip back to Scotland we were talking about isn't gonna happen. I'd love to pay for such things myself but of course with me already freaking out about all the home improvements we can't afford that's clearly not possible!

And they've already talked about how they want to "help out around the house." My dad's still talking about the hedge which was overgrown when they were last here but has been gone for a long time since (though trying to tear out its horrible roots is why our front garden is a pit of gravel and mud now (I don't understand the appeal of gravel in a garden!). My mom wanted the measurements for my front window so she could buy me curtains. In Minnesota! And bring them here! So not only would they stupidly take up space and weight in her suitcase (which is always crammed), she didn't show any indication of asking me what color or kind I wanted, so I probably wouldn't want them any more than the ones I have there now. And they're a bit difficult anyway because the curtain rod is a bit broken...so my dad's OCD attempts to get the two curtains to close Right In The Middle led to a bunch of the curtain hooks popping off...because another problem with this curtain rail is you can't put proper rings on it, only shitty little plastic hooks that never stay on and keep breaking, and...

...this is the kind of thing that's going on in my brain all the time. I feel so much of it is out of my control. So many of my problems are nothing I can do anything about in the few days remaining before they get here, I feel lack in skills and money and time and transport -- having a car would really help! And I just want to curl up in a ball and ignore the whole thing.

But that's what I've been doing all along; that's the problem.
hollymath: (Default)
On the days when I mope and fret and hate myself because I don't have a job and I tell myself it's all because I'm lazy and afraid and weak and making excuses...

... I guess maybe I should see days like this, where I need a nap by 10:30 in the morning and I end up in a full-on hysterical anxiety attack just because I can't find something that's in the place where I put it, where even after a good day I always feel like I'm at the end of my rope...I should see days like this as some kind of an answer to what I keep asking myself: how can you not even have a job yet?
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My parents are aging.

Of course, I'm also both far further away and completely lacking in sibling support compared to what I expected. These things are responsible for many of my tears.

My mom had a hospital consultation today that seemed to leave her feeling better, but me worse. So there's nothing to worry about (well, nothing much anyway and possibly less than there was before?). I think my being inconsolable this evening says a lot more about me right now than it does about anyone or anything else.


Feb. 20th, 2016 06:50 am
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I bought an expensive train ticket to London for this weekend, and I'm not using it.

And that sucks so much. But using it would suck even more.

That's all I have to say about how tough life is right now.
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Mornings used to be the part of the day I'd thrive on. Now they're the most difficult.

I don't feel like myself myself any more. I don't recognize me.
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Ten fucking years it'll be, in a few weeks, since my brother died.

One of the things I cried about, soon after when all I did was cry, was that I knew this day would come. That a year, then two years, then five then ten...probably twenty and thirty, hopefully forty and fifty...hell with medical advances who knows how many milestone I'll live through? I knew it wouldn't always hurt as much as it did then. And it hurt all the more then, for the consciousness that it wouldn't always hurt so much.

And it doesn't. It can't. Much as it feels like it, the strength of feeling isn't the only indication of the importance of a person. At first the grief is so intense it washes out everything else -- even memory, for me -- but our bodies are not capable of keeping that intensity up indefinitely. Practicalities assert themselves, stray thoughts return, your personality starts to assert itself again after being subsumed like everything else about your life. Eventually you can even get bored.

And gradually you don't wake up crying from quite so many dreams of him. One day you are introduced to someone with his name and you don't visibly wince.

After a long time, the balance tips and it's more remarkable when you are affected by things than when you aren't. When a song on the radio makes your lower lip quiver, when you feel bad at a fleeting moment of jealousy you had about someone else talking about their adult relationships with their own siblings, when someone ask you that innocuous small-talk question "do you have brothers and sisters?" and you have to try not to make the ensuing conversation too dark.

Sometimes now I do feel bad for not feeling bad more, or more often, or in the right way, or something. Sometimes I hate that hardly anyone important to me, outside my family anyway, ever even met my brother. Sometimes I worry that he's become a story, an abstract sketch of youth and loss, rather than someone I never felt I really got to know as a person. Sometimes I feel so damn lonely, having to face my parents aging on my own with no one to call up to compare notes, seek opinion, ask questions, answer questions, fight, keep secrets from our parents with (will they ever know that I don't think they raised any heterosexual children?), wade through the legal stuff when they can't stay on the farm any more...

Anyway, all that is to digress. All I was gonna sa is that it's been ten years, and my mom wants me to write a little verse for their local paper again, and I assured her I would, but I don't have anything I can say -- to that audience. It needs small words and nothing too...demonstrative. This kind of language I'm using here would be baffling and unhelpful to my parents, and small-town Minnesota.

Hell, I couldn't even think of anything when it'd only been five years. Only half as long.
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Andrew shared this review of a book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, that neither of us have read yet but which both of us are probably more keen on getting around to now. Not just because it sounds like a good book -- it does, but there are so many good books. What makes this one stand out, according to this review, is that it's a nice book. It's not a grimdark dystopia. It's not about a bunch of assholes. It's not an epic series of wars and peril and high body counts. The worldbuilding isn't overbearing tedious entries from an RPG sourcebook but natural and on a human scale: about people's jobs, hobbies food, and so on. Difficulties and even death aren't absent, but they also aren't so common as to be numbing. As the reviewer says, "Numb, I’ve come to realize, is what most modern SF leaves me feeling."

All the things about this book that end up making it seem remarkable in this review say a lot more about what we expect from science fiction now than about this book itself.

It reminds me of something I realized a couple of weeks ago, while watching one of the Dalek episodes, and increasingly whenever I've thought about Doctor Who since. As well as the new Doctor Who, I subsist on a steady diet of Big Finish and old TV stuff too, and I think especially since I've been working my way through the Hornet's Nest stories again, which is Tom Baker at his handwavy, confident, frustrating best, I'm finding all this stuff on telly a bit weird. For one thin I'm sick of "this time the Doctor's gonna die, for real!" (Andrew and James and I happened to catch the last episode or two of Matt Smith's Doctor over the weekend, and all that was about him definitely being about to die forever too, and I just felt weighed down by it, and by how long this has been going on, how interchanageable it all seems, how quickly I get impatient with it because it's tedious and it's tedious because I know it isn't really going to happen that way, so I feel as if I'm always looking over the shoulders of the people earnestly trying to tell me these things, to see when the real story is going to come along.) And I think near the beginning of this series Missy tells the Doctor "You've always been running," i.e. since he left Gallifrey, and my brain just rebels at that idea. The Doctor I'm used to has adventures and gets in scrapes! He's not running away, he's bimbling along. I feel like this repeated assertion that he's always been on the run and he's always about to die are not only getting old real quick but are fundamentally trying to alter the character I recognize as the Doctor, and this is frustrating and, actually yes sometimes anxious-making for me. The Doctor is a unique character, and I fear this kind of thing will make him too much like everybody else. Everybody in this grimdark modern SF.

The genuinely poor effect this kind of thing can have on my mental health brings me to what I thought was the most powerful part of this review of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: where the reviewer says,
What depresses me–

And when I say “depresses” I don’t mean “I don’t want to think about this stuff,” I mean I’ve come to realize many novels I’ve tried to read have literally not been good for my mental health–
In my case, I think it's been true for more than novels. I think I first noticed this with I Claudius, actually. That was the first time I caught myself thinking this is just about horrible things happening to horrible people...

...and I don't have to keep going with it.
Like most epiphanies, it sounds dumb and obvious when reduced to language, but it was kind of a big deal for me. I'm exposed to a lot of knowledgeable, interesting commentary on movies, TV and books thanks to my friends. Moving to another country and my friendship circles just generally expanding expanding I get older has left me with a ton of things I'd like to understand better. But I've had to learn that some of it I just don't have the...well, the cliché would be to say "the stomach for," but my stomach's fine; I don't have the constitution for a lot of things.

Things like Game of Thrones, which sometimes left friends of mine in such a poor mental state I wished GoT were a person so I could punch it, which I saw strangers in cafés bonding over how harrowing they'd found the most recent episode, were about as appealing to me as setting my own hair on fire. High fantasy isn't really my thing anyway, but to be opting against it for reasons of self-preservation felt weird.

I worried it was just me. Inarticulate concerns that I might just be getting "timid" or "weak" in my old age also sound silly when I find words for them, but they felt real and worrisome. Seeing someone else say that stories they've tried to enjoy have actually been bad for them is...well, I'm sorry it's happened because it's no fun, but I'm glad to realize that I might not just be an increasingly-fragile human being, but that I am ageing into an era in which the genres often most looked-to for escapism -- SF and fantasy -- are instead making grimdark dystopias fashionable.

So this has been a terribly useful review to read, for me as a person, which is a lot more than I expect from a book review! And The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet has shot up to a high priority for me to get around to reading!
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I was 18 for the 2000 U.S. elections and voting for the first time.

From there to 2004 to 2008 where we Minnesotans had to wait eight months to get Norm Coleman to stop throwing his tantrums and let Al Franken take the seat he was elected to...

To 2009 in the UK being the first election I paid attention to here (when we got Nick Griffin as an MEP and Andrew helped a great Lib Dem win Northenden by eight votes, having persuaded more than that many LDs to go vote) to 2010 to Manchester's council becoming completely Labour as the country got all those UKIP MEPs last year, to yesterday...

...each election of my political lifetime, in either country I want to feel is mine, seems more harrowing than the last.


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