It Is A Box Room

It is a box room

And its walls are beige

Paper plastered aging brick

And the window is large

And it is south facing

Ideal

For the light to get in

Which it does

And it is hot

And it stifles

And it is unbearable

Until at night

When heats absence is worse

 

It is a box room

And it is quiet

Save for the almost inaudible clunking of pipes

Keeping it from altogether silence

It is quiet

 

And it is the quiet which screams

That is louder than things

The quiet

Which taunts

So I fill it with noise.

 

Junky old record players, and

Hi-tech speaker systems, and

Sewing machines blasting on full.

A washer and a dryer

And a sixteen piece brass band

And another

To fill it with noise.

 

It is a box room

And it is full

And it is loud

And it is deafening

And it is quiet

And beneath the paper the walls are falling down

But you can’t tell

 

You just hear the din

And see the decoration

And assume that it’s structurally sound

 

It is a box room

And it is shrinking

And I don’t know how much longer

I can keep on living

In it.

Baywatch – Review

Perhaps it began with Starsky and Hutch? It was certainly perfected by 21 Jump Street. Parody-esque reboots of vintage TV shows have been peppered through recent film history. They’re fun, they’re dumb, and they’re a good Sunday afternoon watch. Baywatch pretty much fits the bill, there.

Taking the reins from the untouchable David Hasslehoff, Dwayne Johnson steps into the shoes of Mitch Buchanan in this self-aware summer romp. The very first noticeable part of Baywatch is the objectification – I know, I promise I’ll be a beach about this real quick and then the review gets more upbeat.

At first, the lingering face-free shots of bikini clad women in the same Hollywood cookie-cutter shape was eye-rolling. However, I’ll be the first to cry hypocrite – because the objectification didn’t just stop at the ladies and I’m not going to sit here and pretend Matt Brody (Zac Efron) climbing an…

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Dear Brian

Dear Brian

If you’re standing here, it’s because I am. If you breathe, it’s because I breathe too. Your dependence on me is exhausting yet, it feels like I depend on you.

When instability overwhelms and overpowers my frail silhouette. And yet.

When you’re gone I’m a mountain, a rock, I am the wave. When you’re gone I can part tides and make strides and utter sentences to inspire, and break free from the me that becomes the liar of weaknesses of needless needs and open wounds; that all at once yearns to be free, yet congeals to the confines of distorted memories when I made a mistake and you remind me. And yet.

Surfacing in my periphery I feel you ebb. Closer to my route. That I’ve carefully carved away from you. And yet I’m hooked. I rely on you, your name shapes my mouth in vowels and consonants trialled before you arrive, your faceless embodiment a poltergeist in my own mind. Brian, you are safety and yet throw me across train tracks in endless visions; and yet.

Perhaps you will end me as I try to end you. Star crossed lovers both of whom I cannot be. And yet.

I need your stick man legacy, the puppetry and you move me as I’m meant to be. I give up. I retreat. And let you steer a while. While I find my feet, and you pull the rug from under me leaving me with nothing but these clichés. And yet.

And yet. Somehow I stay, fighting to remain, fighting my beliefs, they are stronger than you. I am stronger than you. I existed long before you, I am flesh and blood and bone and heart and words and the real memories, not the visions that you sent to me.

And yet. 

My Mental Health Story

Anyone that’s experienced MH issues can probably recall the moment they realised it was a problem. I was recently writing a short piece for my new project, The Nopebook (plugplugplug) and accidentally gave the 100 words I was writing 800 words of context. Not one to let copy go to waste…here you go.
I was 23. I’d been out of Uni long enough to work an 18 month contract that was, through some miracle, relevant to my chosen vocation. But since the contract had ended, yet my need to pay rent had not, I was working in an outbound call centre in Holloway, 80 minutes from my house. It was hell.

Each day I woke up, went to work for twelve impossibly long hours, came home, ate and slept. My boyfriend worked similar hours, building his business from the ground up. We were exhausted, but in love and therefore happy, right? That’s what your twenties are for?

Except, I wasn’t. I slipped off to the bathroom at work at least once a day, pulling the pencil sharpener blade that I’d stashed under the sink out for a little light relief on the top of my thighs, just to keep me going. I’d run scaldingly hot baths entirely from the hot tap and jumped straight in, wincing in pain as my skin turned red. I’d stand over the washing up bowl, staring for hours at the kitchen knife I was washing until the water went cold, tracing the point up and down the protruding outline of my radial artery and wondering “what if?”

I called in sick or cancelled shifts almost weekly, spending days at a time on my sofa, drinking and watching Grey’s Anatomy in great long stints and never really enjoying it.

I stopped mid-walk home to sob for no reason. I was hollow, and clueless, and miserable. And I told no-one. No-one except for my friend L. She, at the time, was the only person I’d ever known to have been diagnosed with depression. She always answered her phone, she always let me cry at her and rant at her. When I felt I was becoming too much for her, I rang the Samaritans. I cried at them, and ranted at them.

But I still didn’t think anything was wrong with me, if you can believe that. Because sometimes, I was high as a kite. I’d think up new plans and projects. I’d start up event nights and book groups and join teams and get excited and lose my shit over a good project. I was unstoppable, I was a genius, I had it all. Until I didn’t.

I knew I had anxiety. I’d realised at Uni, discussed it with my doctor, but not been prescribed anything. But still, nothing clicked.

One morning, completely out of the blue, I awoke to the sound of my alarm. My boyfriend was in bed next to me, reading something on his phone. I stared at the creeping splotch of mould on the ceiling of my first-ever-flat and said gently, “I think I’m depressed.”

He couldn’t have been kinder. He said I should call in sick for work, and make an appointment with the GP. He drove me there just two hours later.

It was a standard GP appointment. Like being asked about my eczema or an ear infection. He read the questionnaire I’d seen online, typing answers into his outdated PC, and I answered honestly. “Have you hurt yourself?” Yes. “Have you considered taking your own life?” Yes. “Do you plan to take your own life?” No.

He sent me away with a prescription for Citalopram, instructions to return in a month, and an appointment with a counsellor.

I met with the counsellor some two-three weeks later. She was a middle-aged blonde woman in a floral polyester shirt. She was soft spoken, to the point that it made me cringe. She spoke to me like you’d ask a five year old “where does it hurt?” after she falls of her bike.

I was three weeks into the Citalopram, and they’d made me vomit several times. They’d also made me feel a little strange – outside myself, separate and numb. Despite this, though, I was having an okay day. I felt I had to put myself back into that depressed state before I spoke to her. I spoke quietly, and sadly, and avoided making eye contact –despite actually feeling alright. Because she spoke to me so delicately, I acted delicate.

I explained that I sometimes felt fine. I explained my fits of productivity and crushing pitfalls.

She suggested I go back in a week. She suggested I go back to my GP in the meantime and explain the highs and lows, as she felt I may be bipolar. I didn’t go back. I didn’t make an appointment. I didn’t get my prescription refilled. I hid from the doctor. I knew it was the right course of action but it just felt too strange, too alien. I didn’t want to do it anymore. “It wasn’t for me” I told myself.

I survived, I dealt with it myself, I pulled myself up (for the most part) and now I am surviving. It helped that my loved ones knew now, and could offer support. I felt less alone, which lifted an immense weight.

But I still feel that ignoring the medical advice was the wrong thing to do, and I’m so lucky I didn’t do anything stupid.

Pareidolia: NaPoWriMo

So my Twitter pal Rachel has informed me that this month is National Poetry Writing Month. She’s doing a poem a day and hers are all going to be excellent I don’t doubt – you can find them here. I don’t usually do poetry. Blogs, articles, fiction – generally prose, that’s my bag. But I’ve been having a weird few days mental health wise and before I carry on with my own April project (using Camp NaNoWriMo to complete the first draft of my novel) I thought I’d give it a crack. I don’t normally do poems, but…here is a poem.

 

Pareidolia

It was a joke.
I made a joke.
I didn’t mean it, so laugh.

I’m laughing; so much my eyes sting,
I’m laughing in my gut,
I’m laughing until it hurts
Because it does hurt
I can feel it.
At my joke.

Have you ever seen a puppet?
A jester, or a clown?
Fooling around?
With a hand shove up its backside,
Nothing inside.
Not really.

Faces painted on inanimate things,
We search for them, too,
We’re trained to,
Patterns they say; but I see faces,
Faces on things that don’t feel,
Don’t laugh,
Not at my joke.
And it was a joke.
So laugh.

Faces are painted on me,
Laughing.
I put them there myself.
At my joke.

And it was a joke.
When I danced at the platform edge,
It was a joke when I said what I said
I wouldn’t have jumped, don’t be concerned.
It was a joke.

I made a joke.
I didn’t mean it, so laugh.

 

 

(The general idea is that it becomes more sinister on a second read through, so if you’d like to read it twice…please do!)

Bad Brain Day

Hello

This blog’s more of a diary entry I guess than my usual rant-about-something type of blog.

I’m having a Bad Brain Day™

If you’ve been following me on Twitter for a while you’ll be familiar with Brian, the name I’ve given to my depression/anxiety. It makes it easier to tell him to fuck off (it’s also what happens if you try to type ‘brain’ whilst mid-panic attack.)

Brian’s been dormant for a good few months now, only popping up every now and then to say my book’s shit or that I look like Shrek (someone once said I look like Shrek and Brian will NOT let it go.) but yesterday he came back.

He’s not the loudest he’s ever been. I still got up, and got dressed, and got to work on time, despite his best efforts. But he’s been hanging around me for the last two days, telling me I’m shit.

He’s mostly reminding me that I’m not trying hard enough in my writing career. That what I’m working on is shit, and that I’m not doing enough freelance work. That even when I am doing freelance work, it’s terrible. I’m shit at my job, I’m shit at life, I’ve peaked. My trajectory has plateaued and now all I do is post Twitter polls and be terrible.

I’m simultaneously panicked into wanting to do loads of work, but too numb to think of anything to write. I don’t have any ideas, I don’t know who to pitch to, I’m just stuck.

Like I’m down a hole, just shallow enough that the top of my head pokes out and I can see how great everyone else is doing. But I don’t have the energy to climb out. I don’t have time to figure out how, because despite being a failure and doing nothing, I’m too busy to breathe, too busy to think, too busy. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed and lost and feel shitty today.

So if my tweets are weird and existential and sad, that’s why.

I’ll bounce back, I’m sure. But today is a Bad Brain Day™

PS. I used a picture of a puppy because puppies make me happy.

Mountbatten: An Excerpt

Chapter Two

Good lord, Weeks skin is greasy. Is it sweat, or grease? I dont know; it looks like itd be slippery to touch. Doesnt he wash himself? Eugh

“Sir?”

“Weeks,”

“You’ve got two minutes, sir.”

“Yes, right. Good.”

Mountbatten straightened his tie and smiled comfortably into the camera lights. The air was thick with sweat and artificial heat, grumbling with the mumblings of journalists and politicians, the rustling of paper, and the buzz of anticipation.

Carl Weeks, Mountbatten’s right-hand man, had been promised the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the election of Mountbatten as Prime Minister. He was a slight man, with a grey comb over that aged him far past his 42 years.

A sudden thought caught Mountbatten off-guard, and his heart stopped for a second. Patting his chest, he felt for the small egg-shaped lump and found it where he’d left it, in his inside jacket pocket. His pulse slowed back to normal and he stepped forward at Weeks’ nod.

“Good Morning. Thank you all for coming.” Several of the audience blushed at his smile – he was handsome, it was fair to say. A strong jaw and full head of chocolate brown hair, with just a sprinkling of grey on the sides, he could even be forgiven his poor choice in facial hair – a thick, Tom Selleck-esque moustache.

“We’ve had a great campaign so far, and the support that the country has shown us has been tremendous. I, personally, can’t thank you enough for your kind words and solidarity as I pledge to make this country truly great again.” The reporters and the camera operators alike were grinning, some even subconsciously giving a small nod of encouragement.

“I know that, in recent years, smear campaigns have been held against my opponents on both sides, and I believe that this is a testament to the country’s disillusionment with politics. Neither of the main two parties in the outdated two party system were giving the whole country what they wanted, nor what they needed – and the opinion polls show that the Friend of Everyone party is exactly what this country needs.”

Pause for effect are they going to applaud? They should, that was fucking inspiring.

“We believe in the greater good – and the greatest good, is the British public. The British public who present themselves, and carry themselves with the self-respect and dignity that shapes a nation, and who they are as individuals. Until the majority of you as citizens are happy with the way the country is run, the country is being run incorrectly. So when you go in to that voting booth on Thursday – remember FOE. The only party that cares about you, and the only party that cares about the greater good. To the greater good!” Mountbatten flashed another smile as his voice raised an imaginary toast to the public. The reporters roared and a couple of lights shook with the movement of the room.

Fucking nailed it. I am so fucking brilliant. 

Weeks breathed a sigh of relief at the side smirk on his boss’ face, and then started as his charming blue eyes caught his own. Mountbatten raised an eyebrow to which Weeks nodded fervently and held up two fingers – “two minutes” he mouthed.

“We have a couple of minutes, if there are any questions?” One woman squeaked as her hand shot in to the air.

“Yes?”

“Michelle Truman, Daily Mail -“

“Good morning, Michelle, how are you?”

Michelle nearly dropped her pen as she flustered.

“I’m – thankyou, good, I was – I’m just wondering – are you excited about the move to number ten? The figures certainly look in your favour!” she trembled, rustling the pages of her notebook.

Mountbatten laughed a big, booming laugh that echoed from the marble walls.

“Let’s just see what happens on Thursday,” he said, with a wink that almost caused the journalist to stop breathing. She fell back on her seat with a giddy thud.

Mountbatten stood outside the London hotel, waiting for his driver to pull up. Weeks was weighed down with his bags and enormous leather Filofax, standing nearly a foot shorter than the party leader. The car pulled up and, after a few moments of standing still, Mountbatten looked down his nose.

“Weeks?”

“Oh, sir, sorry, sir, yes,” he grabbed the handle and opened the car door, dropping his organiser and all of the papers it contained on the damp pavement. Mountbatten ignored the fuss and slid on to the leather seat.

After Weeks had gathered his belongings and deposited Mountbatten’s bags in the boot of the car, he climbed in the other side, cringing slightly as Mountbatten checked his watch impatiently.

“Back to the office, driver, I have a lot to do.” He clipped.

“Sir? I thought we were done for the day?”

“You’re done for the day; I have to round some things up.” Best compliment the weasel, he looks like hes about to pass out. “Good work today, Weeks. I think we’re well on the way!” he grinned, slipping back into his press conference projection.

“Thank you, sir!” Weeks lit up, reaching for a handshake. He quickly retrieved his digits as Mountbatten recoiled slightly.  “The opinion polls are looking in our favour, sir. Certainly in our favour.”

When he nods, I can see his bare scalp. Its like peeking through a little head curtain. I bet its greasy under there, too. 

“It’s not over until I’m in that building, Weeks. That’s when the fun really begins,” Mountbatten grinned once more, absentmindedly fingering the lump in his jacket pocket. Weeks nodded silently for the rest of the journey.