Baby Steps…

…Back into the World!

The timeline for recovering from a breakdown is not a finite thing. It’s different for everyone. For me it’s taken a good two years (and by a good two years I mean nearly three) to get fully back in touch with the real world.

There is a buddhist saying that new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. In my last blog I mentioned that I had lost a contract. Whilst this was very upsetting at the time it prompted me to go out into the big wide world in search for new employment. For the first time in two (nearly three) years I found myself employed in a place that was not my house. I now have to leave my safe home office and venture into the real world at least two days a week and surprisingly enough, I’m loving it!

-New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.-- Lao Tzu (1)

I’m actually almost enjoying the days I spend not in my sheltered little office more than the ones I do. Well not all of them…

Last Monday I arrived at my place of work and had to open up for the first time. To make a short story relatively shorter security alarms AND panic alarms were set off, a fundamental piece of security equipped became irrevocably lost, causing two call-outs from two separate security companies, a whole recalibration of systems and the arrival of some mildly annoyed/amused policemen. All this happened on the same day that a kind passer-by informed me that my arse had been generously displayed to the park during my walk to work. My large M&S skin-tone knicker-ed bottom. Knickers that would put Bridget Jones to shame. Needless to say that when I got back home I had a very large sherry, a big cry and was in bed and fast asleep by 8pm. But the next day I was fine again.

So that was not a great day and one that wouldn’t have happened had I been in my home office. However, I’d take one terrible day like that if it means I get all the other perfectly lovely days I’ve had working in a place where other people are. I actually like being round people now. Even the ones that I don’t know! I really never thought this would happen. I thought that I’d be cooped up in my home office for the rest of my working life. That this would be the only way I’d be able to earn a living.

Despite all this I am glad that I’m not working away from home full-time, the days that I am working from home are really good recalibration days. The down days are as important as the up days. My advice to anyone else recovering from any kind of mental health breakdown would be to take baby steps. Sometimes it takes people two months to feel ready for the world again and sometimes it takes people five years. The important thing is to take your time and do it bit by bit. I’ve taken a couple of big steps forwards only to have to take several back again. This time I took some tentative steps and now I’m pretty excited about all my work! It’s a lovely, scary, odd, fun, tiring, but most of all hopeful feeling.

It all begins with one step

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Complement…

…or insult?

So I came across this little video on the Independent website and was almost instantly incandescent! With good reason!

Here’s why:

  1. The comments “let men be men” and “men are going to be that way, what can you do?” have sickened me down to my core. Firstly the majority of men that I know don’t see catcalling as an inherent part of their “man-ness”. They don’t see shouting unsolicited comments at random strangers solely based on their appearance as at all associated with the fact that they have a penis. Secondly, “men are going to be that way, what can you do?” this sounds like something some twat who works for Nuts magazine would say about a rape case. If we as a society start to adopt this attitude to unwanted attention it will have an extremely detrimental effect on where we draw the lines of consent, sexism and ultimately gender equality. Men are not just “going to be that way”, no man is born a chauvinistic pillock, they learn these specific behaviours through growing up in a society willing to take harassment as par for the course of being a woman!
  2. I am all for dressing to impress, if I have a big meeting I make sure I’m dressed nicely, I put my makeup on and do my hair – I want to make a good impression. That impression is not “you should do business with me because I look sexy” it’s “you should do business with me because you can take me seriously”. Yes I want to look good, but that has nothing to do with looking sexually attractive. So when this hideous excuse for a man says that when he gets dressed in the morning he wants to look in a certain way that is “appealing” to people, all I have to say is FAIL (unless a fake-tanned-over-sized-baby-in-a-suit looking man is appealing – each to their own I suppose). Even if he was a handsome Adonis of a man I would be pushed to find anything appealing about him because I would be too focused on the fact that he’s a complete wanker. Call me crazy but I like to hold standards for people based on their thoughts, opinions and actions, not on the cut or brand of their suit.
  3. If someone were to clap me down the street I wouldn’t be smiling, or feel complimented, I would be intimidated and frankly a wee bit confused.
  4. I almost feel sorry for these women because they’re confusing two very different things. Should someone you know say, “you look nice today” – that’s a compliment, if someone you don’t know shouts “nice arse” at you while you cross the road – that’s harassment. I am confident enough in myself not to yearn for a stranger to find me physically attractive. If these ladies are so deprived of genuine compliments that they have to quaff and Botox themselves to within an inch of their lives and revel in the objectification of their efforts by random men then they need therapy, not a TV show. The other day I was in Boots, wearing my most favourite of all my Marple-style suits and the lady serving me said, “that is a great suit” – that’s a complement! It is a truly great suit! That’s why I bought it! Not because it shows my legs or bottom or booby bits (which incidentally it doesn’t – Marple would never behave in such a way) because it’s frikin awesome! Now if she had said “your bottom looks good in that skirt, I would so love to touch it” I would have been tempted to say, “I have not invited you to comment on my physicality in any way and would thank you kindly not to ever again” because I know the difference between a COMPLIMENT and an OBJECTIFICATION.
  5. The saddest thing about this whole sorry video is that these people are allowed to voice their damaging and ridiculous opinions on a national scale, on a mainstream stage, in the largest country in the world. It’s so important to make sure that we mark this as what it is – just wrong and that we strive to teach the boys and girls of the generation coming after ours that self esteem is not something that is shouted at you across the street, that self respect is not glowing upon the objectification of a crass and rude person, that what you look like does not make you who you are and that it is not okay to shout hideous things at people you don’t know!

Thats not so much my 10 cents as my 100 dollars worth. I don’t like sitting on the fence – long thin planks of wood are not a comfortable thing to place my un-objectified bottom on thank you very much.

Welcome to the…

…DANGER ZONE!

So I spent half of last week waiting for that special time in every woman’s month; the special time when your womb reminds you that it’s still there and that it’s really, really angry with you. During those three to four days prior to my “lady time” arriving, I quite simply become a different person. This is what Chris and I lovingly refer to as the Emotional Danger Zone. If you are wondering whether you also suffer from this particular affliction read on for the 12 signs that you are in the Emotional Danger Zone (I started with a nice round 10 but it turns out there are more than I thought):

  1. If you can’t find your keys/phone/lip salve in your handbag, you burst into tears.
  2. If you watch a John Lewis advert you burst into tears.
  3. You want to eat your body weight in cheese.
  4. If you can’t find any cheese in your fridge you burst into tears.
  5. Chocolate feels like the only thing in the world that truly understands you and your ambitions for life.
  6. When you can’t find any chocolate in your fridge you burst into tears.
  7. Your normal personal space sphere widens by 10 meters and develops a steel exterior so that when your other half tries to affectionately stroke your back you accidentally punch them in the face.
  8. If you accidentally punch your other half in the face, you burst into tears.
  9. When people say the word “exercise” you have to refrain from spitting at (or near) them.
  10. You feel a very strange and intriguing mix between severely angry and quite aroused (the outcomes of this particular feelings “mash-up” are interesting and variable).
  11. You feel like wearing a T-shirt which says “Approach With Caution”.
  12. On top of that t-shirt you feel like wearing a sign which says “Do Not Approach.”

If you can recognise any of these symptoms there is a strong chance that you are also in the Emotional Danger Zone. I recommend you find yourself an empty room, with a TV (sometimes it’s good to cry to John Lewis adverts), some chocolate, some cheese and some elasticated trousers. Hopefully this will help placate the womb – let me know how it goes!

“Oh you BITCH…”

“…no I don’t mean you Doctor, I’m sorry, you’re not a bitch, you’re…lovely, it’s the pain, the pain is a bitch, it’s…bitchy.”

Is what I said to the doctor anaesthetising my leg during my first ever minor (or otherwise) operation. This experience has prompted me to put together a little “Do and Don’t” list for anyone preparing to go through such a so-called minor procedure (I should mention at this point that I have quite a serious phobia of the method by which anaesthetic as administered, thus the complete and huge over-reaction to what I’m sure most other people take as a routine procedure):

DON’T: call your doctor a bitch. That one is pretty simple.

DO: start your day with a small to middling sized sherry.

DON’T: go alone, it’s always an embarrassing experience to find yourself tightly holding on to a nurse who really should be swabbing something and who is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with your invasion of their personal space. I have to confess that this is something I have previously learned from dentist appointments and therefore asked my father accompanied me (poor guy), which brings me on to…

DON’T: bring a professional musician with you. I was holding his hand so tightly that he started to worry that I was going to break his fingers and thus ruin his musical career forever. To be fair I think anyone would rather not have their fingers broken by a sobbing lunatic. He really was a jolly good sport about the whole thing.

DO: bring tissues.

DON’T: LOOK DOWN. Unless, of course, you enjoy watching people remove parts of your body with tiny but very sharp knives – each to their own.

DO: partake in a full body shower before you have the “minor op”. I was unaware of the don’t-shower-for-at-least-two-days-after-you’ve-have-a-weird-mole-removed-from-your-leg rule. ERROR. Thank the Lord for dry shampoo.

DON’T: ask why the plasticky bed thing that they make you lie on has gone a really sinister colour in the middle (the bit where everyone’s bottom lies), they won’t tell you the answer and I think it’s probably worse to wonder why than to actually know.

All in all I caused such a fuss that when I went to have my stitches removed this morning the nurse said “have you calmed down now?” Nice woman.

I normally try to sign off my blogs with some sort of picture or visual representation of my chosen subject however I am fully against publishing (on any forum) pictures of one’s wounds, scars, gashes or drip lines (you know who you are), plus if you actually saw what I am making such a big deal about you’d think I’m a complete knob.

“Mega Lolz…”

… I hear the student who’s walking past me say, in a rather droll, bored manner, as if she doesn’t find it funny at all, which is presumably why she couldn’t muster herself to say “that’s pretty funny!” instead. She’s also wearing a Barbour jacket, how can students afford Barbour jackets?

I am Totally Awesome
How I dressed during my entire childhood, all my student life (and what is turning out to be a large amount of my adult life).

I work in an area of Cardiff called Cathays, which for those of you who don’t live in this wonderful city (unfortunate) this is where ALL the students live. I’m pretty sure that if you walked into a letting agency in the area and told them you were over 22 years old they’d laugh you out of there. Most days I escape the small grey box that is my work place to spend my lunch breaks sat in the large window of a “studenty” cafe and “student watch”. Ahh the hilarious (and sometimes disturbing) fashion show that is “student watching”. Here are 10 attire related pieces of advice I wish I could shout at the those higher education loaths that languish past the window daily:

  1. Your blusher is making you look aggressively embarrassed.
  2. You have won a place at university which presumably means you are a generally intelligent person (or, if Michael Gove has had anything to do with your education, you can regurgitate knowledge you’ve temporarily crammed into your brain, which I consider a skill) so why can you not read a calendar? Yes it’s sunny outside but that does not automatically mean it’s warm outside, has no-one ever heard of a “crisp” day? Take those flip-flops and shorts off right this minute and go and find yourself some sensible brogues, a cosy jacket and go and Google “the seasons”.
  3. Those jeans don’t fit, your either going to get chaffing or thrush, either because they are so tight they’re making you waddle or because you shouldn’t rub synthetic (god knows what they add to denim to make it stretchy) fabrics against your special places.
  4. What is so wrong with coats and waterproof weather-protecting fabrics? If it is cold why wouldn’t you wear a coat? If it is raining why wouldn’t you wear a waterproof? I may look like an inner-city rambler in my purple kagool and I can hear your young sniggers as my glasses steam up under my hood but you look freezing and moist, and your silly “handbag” sized umbrella keeps blowing inside out, making you look like a complete knob. This is Wales, buy a Macintosh.
  5. Your “messy up-do” isn’t messy, it’s comical.
  6. LEGGINGS AREN’T TROUSERS! And they’re not as opaque as you think they are either.
  7. You’re not Jesse J. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but even she can barely get away with the current (and unfortunate) 1980s/90s throwback fashions. Your baggy 80s style shirt buttoned all the way up to top and tucked into baggy yet incredibly tiny denim shorts, teamed with your “messy up-do” makes you look like an extra from an early French and Saunders sketch. You could play a bit part in one of the first Jonathan Creek shows because you definitely look like you’ve been styled by a young Caroline Quentin.
  8. If the part of your tights that is darker than the rest (the bit shaped like “gym shorts” that encompasses your bottom bits) is visible under the line of your cut-off denim shorts – then they are too short. My knickers are bigger than what you’re laughably parading as clothes.
  9. You are wearing shoes – why aren’t you wearing socks? You’re making those “I shop in Topman” casual deck shoes look sweaty and uncomfortable. Encompassing your very pale feet with a nice pair of socks would make you look much better, and you’d be warmer, which is important because my Oma says you can catch a cold through bare feet.
  10. LEGGINGS AREN’T TROUSERS!

You’re welcome.

Wet Welsh Weather Wear
Clearly how all people should dress at all times.