Friday, 25 April 2014

It’s not easy being 'normal'

I really hate it when people say to me that I should try to be normal despite the fact that I am being normal every day of my life.  In fact, the daily struggle I have with being normal is very wearing on me.

The trouble is that people don’t understand that when they say “normal”, they are using the term incorrectly.  “Normal”, in the sense they mean it, doesn’t exist because they are trying to shoehorn people into a category of normality based on a fictional societal norm that can never exist.  There is no type of behaviour that can possibly be considered ‘normal’ because normality is a highly subjective word when applied to human behaviour.

People with mental health conditions have, in the equally incorrect but scientifically used designation, an abnormal psychology compared with societal norms.  However, people with such conditions are acting normally based on the restrictions of their illness.

A person with depression has a normal day filled with low self-esteem, a lack of enthusiasm and motivation and possibly even suicidal ideation so, for them, normal is a daily round of misery and hopelessness.  A psychopath can consider their normal behaviour as being unable to empathise with the humanity experienced by non-psychopaths meaning that, for them, normal is spending their days coming up with new ways to kill off more vulnerable members of society (and kudos to those of you who picked up the reference to the subject of one of my earlier blogs).

I am a depressive.  For me, the daily struggle I mentioned earlier is not, in fact, a struggle with being ‘normal’ because I act normally every day; it is a struggle to act abnormally to conform to the fictional societal norm everyone so cheerfully calls ‘being normal’.

Society would be a much better place if people accepted that, as long as people are not getting hurt by someone’s behaviour, everyone is just normal and to stop projecting an impossibly ridiculous societal norm on everyone rather than trying to force people to act in a way that brings further struggle into their lives.  Like I said, it’s not easy being ‘normal’.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Extracts from my diary part 1

It’s late and I can’t sleep so I decided to look through my old diaries that I kept over the course of a couple of years beginning in 2008.  I thought that some of the entries might be of interest to people who’d like to get into the mind of a depressive like myself so, for your reading pleasure, here is the first selection of entries covering the period between November 2008 and the end of February 2009.

Note: Dates marked with an asterisk are incomplete diary entries with only the most interesting parts reproduced here.

29th November 2008
A little voice urged me to stop reading the book on Schopenhauer and start to read “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” by C G Jung.  I’ve been putting off reading it for ages but now I seem to need to read it with the utmost urgency so I bow to the wishes of that little voice.

30th November 2008
Yesterday I read 103 pages of Jung’s book!

At last I have found someone who understands the duality in my personality!  Despite having died a decade before my birth, I find in Jung a kind of kindred spirit plagued as he was with a duality of personality and our philosophical studies have followed a similar path – Hegel, Schopenhauer and then Kant (which is next on my personal reading list).  I am now a little more at peace with myself and my little voice has told me that I need not read any more today.  As I reflect on my new-found kindred spirit’s words I feel that the start of my journey is not far off.

6th December 2008
I do not dream in the accepted sense; my midnight movies are more like previews of coming attractions.  Last night I was assailed by two such fragments the first of which I have been plagued by for weeks now.  It involves me in a medieval setting and concerns two necklaces of which I am the owner – one is crystal, the other metal – and being magically attacked for possession of them.  More detail I cannot give as the memory fades almost as soon as I finally wake up, usually in drool.  The other dream involves me finding the mortal remains of five people who have been skinned very expertly, placed in some kind of trunk or holdall (the skins only) and then the receptacles are dumped in a ditch where I find them.  How I miss the nights of dreamless sleep of the days before I started taking happy pills.

7th December 2008
I hate Sundays.  They are a horrific reminder of the coming working week (not that I’m working at the moment but the sense of dread remains just the same).  As each hour passes, the spectre of Monday gains a tangibility until it materialises like a mugger from the shadows of an alleyway.  It shouldn’t affect me like this as every day feels like a Sunday to me now and I seem to live in a state of constant dread.  We decorated for Christmas today but I felt no sense of happiness and even Christmas music seems hollow to me now.

11th December 2008
Sitting here listening to jazz and reflecting on events at the Open Arts session.  Surprisingly my poems received a good reaction, even the two I wrote about 1AM this morning.  Maybe I am a poet after all.  Was still hard to read them in front of the attendees but it was a little easier than last week.  I received a massive ego boost when a woman from the group read out a piece she had written and claimed it was due to me that she wrote it.  Can there be greater praise than to be an inspiration to someone?  Another lady told me that I made her cry with my poetry last week – not just once but twice.  It seems as though my poems are able to touch people’s hearts in some inexplicable way.

12th December 2008
For the first time I had a dream with Grandma in it.  She only appeared within moments of me waking up but I woke up feeling happier than usual.  It’s been twenty years and a handful of months since Grandma died and I’ve missed her every day.  In some way it’s like she came back for me because she knows I need help.  It’s been a long time – maybe she stopped for a chat!  I’ve been reflecting on the events since my suicide attempt and I’m getting the impression that I’m heading for a moment of revelation.  I believe that the following few months will be especially important for me.  I am being driven by an irresistible force towards an understanding of myself.  Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

14th December 2008
I had another dream last night and this one seems very important to me.  I was in a huge library filled not only with books but also letters and other pieces of paper.  The books seemed to rearrange themselves on the shelves as though being moved by some invisible librarian.  I picked one of the letters and it seemed to be from Great Uncle Arthur.  All of a sudden I was overcome with sadness as I realised that the letter had been received after his death.  The letter said that Arthur had wanted to see me and that he missed me.  In reality, Great Uncle Arthur and I hardly knew each other but I did like him although I’m not sure that either of us would have missed each other to that degree.  The letter, however, brought a clear picture of Arthur into my mind and that’s the most important part of the dream.  It seems that the library is actually a repository of memories not necessarily representing truly received books or letters but each item affording the dreamer access to a forgotten picture or actual memory of a loved one or forgotten event.  Emotions seem to be represented by items in the library too.  If I can learn to use this dream library, I may be able to access my forgotten past.  Perhaps this dream library is a manifestation of the collective unconscious and a dreamer could access anyone’s memories with correct use of the library.  I must try to dream of the library again.  The question I keep asking myself is “why am I having so many dreams”?  I have had a lot of different dreams in the last two or three weeks and I can’t put it all down to my meds or the books I’ve been reading.  There seems to be a change happening to me, a change within me, but I have no idea what the change is or why it’s happening to me.  I know that I’ve been different since my suicide attempt, angrier at times, even deeper in darkness than I have ever been but I also seem to be at peace at times with myself, with everything.  I know that I have found great strength from the knowledge that Jung found a way of coping with his duality of personality.  I would say that it gives me hope of coping with mine but hope is not something I allow myself anymore as my hopes are always dashed.  When the time is right I shall legally cast off my name and adopt my chosen name.  I will ask people to use my chosen name in the meantime as a courtesy to me and to allow them to get used to using it.

17th December 2008 *
Finished reading Jung’s autobiography last night and started reading “The Undiscovered Self” before going to Lakeside where, thanks to a headful of thoughts, a slight dizzy spell and a stupid error in spatial awareness, I managed to rip a big hole in my sweatshirt sleeve.  Took the bus home as the dizziness returned.  Have been reading like a man possessed and have, as a result, already finished “The Undiscovered Self”.  A curious thing has occurred to me and that is that I have been listening to jazz music whilst reading.  This is curious to me for reasons unknown to me as I have had music on whilst reading before, it just seems as though it must be important to note it at this moment in time.  Is it important to me to have this type of mellow assault on my auditory system during this particular time of study, reflection and, most importantly for me, creative release?  If so, why is it important?  So many questions, so few answers.  My intuitive little voice is telling me to leave my studying of Jung, to break my current path of study and seek a new avenue for a short time so that I do not overextend myself and become disenchanted with Jung.  I am inclined to trust my little voice as it has proven itself valuable to me in the last couple of weeks and I have decided to turn my attention back towards politics with a view to read a book on anarchism.  Maybe I need the assault on multiple sensory systems to drown out the crushing banality of my existence.

2nd January 2009
I have decided to get another pre-pay internet card next week as, apart from a couple of occasions, I haven’t been on the internet for over a month now.  Part of me is looking forward to rejoining the internet community with the few friends I have made online, however, a part of me is almost frightened to go back online and possibly bump into some of the people responsible for my suicide attempt.  I don’t want to get dragged into that false existence again – not after the gains I have made in the last few weeks.  I can hardly deny the attractiveness of my cyber-life though.  I have gained a level of acceptance on the internet that I haven’t had in my real life but is that because I am a different person when I’m online?  Or are people online just a bit more accepting of people?  Another reason for my fear of going back online is that there are a number of ghosts that refuse to be put to rest awaiting my return to the internet and I’m not sure that I’m up to facing them just yet – the emotions surrounding them are just too overpowering or that’s how they seem now at least.  Perhaps I should get a card and give myself a trial period before committing myself to a long-term permanent return to cyber-life – it would seem to be the wisest course of action and it would allow me the opportunity to find more study material, particularly on meditative practices which I am keen on making a part of my on-going course of self-improvement and healing.

I’m a little worried that my little voice has been rather quiet lately except for the urge it gave me to go for that quick night-time stroll by the river.  I could do with some creative impulse to kick start some more poetry writing or some other creative output but I also know that trying to force myself is just going to end in me feeling depressed at my failure to produce anything so I must just wait for the time to be right.  My little voice has been extremely helpful up ‘til now so I must believe that it is being silent for a good reason and that waiting is the right thing to do at the moment.

13th January 2009 *
I wrote another one of my experimental poems.  It is in much the same vein as my previous one and I’m fairly sure that I was able to keep to the same rules; however, I will be checking it again in the most minute detail.  Details of another poem have also made their way to the surface of my consciousness; lines that have been in my mind for quite a while are now just waiting for the rest of the poem to join them so that they may be written down and forgotten.

People tend to see me as a bit of a waste of space really.  They don’t want to see or are unable to see that I am a reasonably intelligent man who thinks quite deep thoughts at times.  In a way, that is why I write poetry and why I’m trying my hand at art.  It is my way of communicating my thoughtful side to people who would otherwise not listen to me.

In a way I’m still haunted by my suicide attempt because I know now that it would be so easy for me to let it happen again.  The painting that I’m doing kind of represents how I’m feeling at the moment – trapped in a living darkness, completely at its mercy, and having bits of my hidden self revealed to me in fragmentary moments of reflective clarity.  It’s an uncomfortable feeling to be living with.

20th January 2009
I’m not really someone who constantly reads the stuff I write but today I took the opportunity to re-read all my finished poems and found myself pleasantly surprised by what I read.  Some of the poems are very well written with good descriptive language whilst others seem to cut through the bullshit and get right to the point.  They may not be great literature but my poems do present the reader something worth reading, something thought provoking.  The darker poems are certainly written from the heart, painting a picture of depression that is both accurate for the reader to put themselves in the mind of a depressive and difficult to deny for sufferers.  That is not to say that all depressives suffer in the same way but that there are similarities in how all depressives feel.  My poems might actually strike a chord with other people and may prove to be a comfort to them when they realise that they are not alone in feeling the way they do.  I know that I felt a little better when I found out that Jung had a similar duality of personality as I do even if we handle it in totally different ways.

1st February 2009 *
I woke up today with the greatest sense of personal insignificance.  It is not the first time I have had such thoughts but it is the first time that they have been my first thoughts of the day.  I have always known that when I die I will not leave even the slightest imprint on history; there will be no Myles-shaped hole in the lives of the people I have known.  The only legacy I will leave is a few mediocre poems and a single piece of art.  I have no children and I have a suspicion that I never will have.  All these thoughts were with me upon awakening followed closely by the questions that have haunted me for as long as I can remember – who are you and what do you want?

2nd February 2009 *
Whilst I was reading my book on the sofa I had an incredible feeling come over me.  I can only describe it as a ‘eureka’ moment, a moment of supreme revelation like two pieces of a mental jigsaw suddenly falling into place.  The only problem is that I have absolutely no idea what the revelation was about apart from the fact that it had nothing to do with the subject of the book I was reading.  The fact that I consciously acknowledged and recorded the fact that a revelation had occurred must mean that it is somehow important to me so I must try to figure out what it was.

14th February 2009
I wish I knew what is wrong with me.  I just can’t pull myself together and I’m at a complete loss to work out why.  I really need something to ease this growing feeling of being cast adrift again.  For a while I really thought I was getting somewhere and now I seem to be going backwards again.  I seem to be losing interest in stuff I like and I’m becoming increasingly bored with just about everything.  What’s wrong with me?

19th February 2009
So much for getting caught up with my sleep.  I spent most of last night in a state of restlessness, tossing and turning yet again.  I’ve got a headache through lack of proper sleep and my brain is becoming so sluggish it’s getting hard to think.

Saw the psychiatrist today to review my medication.  I told him about my anger problem and that I’m tending to become angry at the slightest provocation and that the anger seems to be bordering more towards rage.  I’m not sure but I think that he believes that my current anti-depression meds may be responsible for the rage problem.  He offered me three options for my medication – 1) increase my current meds to the maximum dose of 45mg, 2) stay at the current dosage of my current meds but supplement it with another anti-depressant to be taken in the morning, or 3) stop the anti-depressants altogether and start taking a mood stabiliser instead.  Each option has its own share of difficulties – 1) would make me drowsy and increase my appetite, 2) could add extra side effects to the ones I already have because of the new drug and 3) could affect my ability to write my poems or any other means of artistic expression even though he was suggesting a mood stabiliser a little less drastic than Lithium.  We eventually settled on option 2 as he didn’t want to risk increasing the problems I’ve had with my current meds or risk me losing my creative ability even if there was only a small chance of that happening so I now have even more expense to look forward to and another pill to add to the collection I have to take every day.

The psychiatrist also said that he was going to put me forward for more therapy.  Oh joy!

21st February 2009
Another day, another headache.  I’m feeling so low now I can barely build up the enthusiasm to breathe.  Little things are really getting to me and causing me to explode with anger.  I need to find a way to sort myself out and quickly before I do myself or someone else some serious damage.

Sometimes I think I’m going mad because my mind gets so muddled due to boredom and depression or because someone does something that defies sense or logic and the rest of the world accepts what the person did without batting an eyelash.  What I’d like to know is – who makes up the rules?  Who decides that the world should accept vile, talentless and intellectually stunted people as celebrities just because they spent a few weeks in the equivalent of a human rat’s maze, a shallow human peep show?  Suddenly we are asked to ignore any bad behaviour they have ever done and probably still do and consider them role models.  We are supposed to feel happy for them when something good happens to them despite the fact that their celebrity status makes them extraordinarily better off than the public that put them where they are.  We are supposed to gloss over how vile they are and forget their disgusting behaviour when something bad happens to them.  We have to feel sorry for them and praise them for their courage in the face of their tragedy despite the fact that hundreds or thousands have to face similar tragedies in their own lives without the support the “celebrities” can get from being in the media all the time.  The people with true courage in the face of personal tragedy are the ordinary people who have to face their tragedy with little or no support.

28th February 2009 *
Today I was reminded of why I fell in love with Diana in the first place and, although we’ve had a period of troubles during the last year, I hope we can get at least a little of what we had back.  We had something special and I mucked it all up like I tend to muck everything up but I hope we can patch things up.

That last entry was written at a time when I was taking sole responsibility for the breakdown of my marriage and letting Diana get away with denying any part in the troubles we were having.

I’ll post some more archive diary entries later.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wednesday 23rd April 2014

I contacted the Department for Work and Pensions about my claim for Income-related Employment Support Allowance earlier.  They had both claim forms I sent despite the fact that they said that they had lost the first one.  If that wasn’t annoying enough I was told that I’ll now have to fill out another form about the living arrangements I have with my soon-to-be ex-wife before they will process my claim.  The gentleman I spoke to listened to the extremely complicated living situation I have with her.   He promptly told me that I would probably be considered as still living as a married couple with her and her income would more than likely stop me receiving any benefits in the income related category.  He said that my wife should claim Working Tax Credits but she has already tried and had her claim rejected.

I also spoke with the local council regarding the derisory award I was given in Housing Benefit and the total rejection of my claim for Council Tax Support.  There is a section on the form for other expenses but the person I spoke to said that the only applicable expenses they allow for are childcare expenses.  The fact that the crappy heaters the council installed suck electricity at the rate of £160 a month in the cold months does not seem to exist as an expense according to the Government.  It seems that, even in these times when being poor and having children is being looked down on, the Government actually incentivises having children; children who cost the State millions in education costs, welfare payments, healthcare costs and, in a lot of cases, social care costs as well.

I have done everything that the Government have asked of me as a claimant on a sickness benefit; in fact, I have done more than they have asked and I am being penalised anyway like countless others and being set up to fail.

With so much concern over the burgeoning population and the increasing size of the State pension bill, shouldn’t the Government be incentivising not having children rather than penalising those who don’t have them?  Or, perhaps, I’m just being stupid in thinking that.

Was it something I said?

I know that I sometimes say things in my blog that may cause offence but I don’t go out to do so, I am simply being true to myself.  My blog is my personal view on the world, on the events of my life and on my depression and sometimes that view will come with a healthy dose of bad language, crude comments and offensive.  I make no apologies for such content because the fact is that offence is not given, it is taken, and I can’t be held to account for someone’s decision to take offence at anything I write.

In a recent posting I used the term “bisexual cum-guzzling sluts” in a humorous attempt to throw some much needed attention on the debate into internet and communication surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ.  No one has complained but I know that some of my regular readers are women and I can assume that at least some of them were offended by such crude language.  Some may have viewed such a term as deeply misogynistic and potentially male chauvinistic but this just goes to show how easy it is for someone to take offence at and misinterpret the usage of a term.

I picked this example because it could be viewed as anti-female but, if you look closely at the term I used, it is genderless.  The term ‘sluts’ is seen as a pejorative term associated with women but it can also be associated with the homosexual male group known as ‘bottoms’ and frequently is.  Using the word ‘bisexual’ as part of the term can therefore apply to bisexual women and bisexual male ‘bottoms’ rendering the term equally offensive to males and females if they have a mind to take offence.

Yes, the term was still rather crude but I stand by my use of it because it was meant to poke fun at the type of people who could be spying on us on a daily basis and the type of stuff they’ll be looking through.

I hope that you didn’t take offence at the term if you read the posting it appeared in but, if you did take offence, that’s your choice.  I can only write what I write and if it causes a situation in which you may feel obliged to take offence, I cannot stop you from doing so.  I cannot and will not allow other’s hang-ups to affect what I say.