Rambling Brain

I’ve done a couple of hours driving here and there the last few days, just helping ferry a couple of people around or doing shopping trips, and with it has come another round of my brain deciding that focusing on the road and tapping my fingers along to various songs wasn’t enough and that to keep itself from getting bored it would take me on a trip down memory lane – mostly as I zipped up and down the A3.

Of course, being my brain, it felt that the best use of this time wouldn’t be to reminisce on family holidays, or small achievements. It wouldn’t even touch on memorable journeys. No, my brain decided to let the weasels pick out a broad selection of cringe-worthy and relationship-sabotaging events from my mid teens to early twenties. Why? Possibly because I’ve been having a good time recently despite being tired and depression likes to keep things not just grounded but positively subterranean.

So passing certain junctions recalled conversations containing oversharing, while others sparked sort-of-pleasant memories that then bounced on to bemused introspection. One memory for example was of being at the Surrey County Fair with my girlfriend at the time and her family. We had VIP passes so had entry to a large food tent for lunch, which included arrays of whole cooked salmon and assorted side dishes and finger foods. Seeing the general melee of people and wondering where the queue started, I was told “Oh don’t worry about manners, get in there and tuck in. Only the middle class worry about manners – the rich and the poor don’t bother or don’t have time.” This would have been the late eighties, so make of that what you will. Funny how I’ve forgotten that for so long and a simple sign for Guildford brought it back.

That then of course led to more unspooling memories, both good and bad from around that time, and how badly I handled the aftermath of that relationship ending. I remind myself that I was little more than a boy, with some trauma in the background, and had a lot of growing up and healing to do. This isn’t the easiest to do all at once, so it took me a few years and along the way garnered enough moments to make me cringe for the best part of an hour while the show progressed in my mind’s eye.

As Lady M reminds me – I was young, I did stupid shit, the world hasn’t ended, and nobody was harmed along the way beyond some embarrassment or hurt feelings. My counsellor has pointed out on similar past occasions that the brain hides a lot of our memories until such time as we feel safe enough to begin to process them properly. Sometimes all kinds of things get caught up in the confusion along with the actual trauma events and suppressed at the same time so its not that unusual for the most random things to pop up all fresh and ready for inspection as other things heal.

My personal take is that my depression is getting desperate if it thinks that the merely embarrassing will get the black dog barking – especially when it starts looking at relationships given my wayward and idiosyncratic present. Perhaps its just my healthier brain pointing out that the lessons I’ve learned along the way would have served me well in the various memories dredged up and that therefore they were worth learning.

See? I can do positive!

Shopping Trip

Despite the foggy start we headed out to the wilds of Hounslow today in search of school uniform items for the cub. The boy s was down in Portsmouth getting more work done on his leg so it was just the three of us piled into the car as the sun burned through.

I grew up in the area but haven’t really been back in years. The High Street is still bustling and energetic, but recession has bitten it hard, and I felt saddened to see what it is now compared to what I was even ten years ago. There’s what feels like anĀ  undertone of desperation rather than the busy hustle that I would have previously characterised as its mood.

And yet at the same time there’s life and energy rather than the flat despair of some high streets. It was a strange mix, and perhaps I felt it more because I had a youngster with me and was therefore more consciously watchful.

With all that said, the school shop was a step back in time both to equipping the Charleesi for her own school journey, and memories of my own trips for The Mall, and St John’s. The staff were friendly, and I slipped into a comfortable space as we assembled all the elements we needed. I even enjoyed the dust and fabric scents of the shop as a sensory treat – it was all very familiar in a comforting sense.

We’re meeting the Headmaster of the school that the cub is transferring to on Tuesday – well boy s and I are anyway. It does feel very strange to be diving back into this mode again with the Charleesi all grown up now. That said I’m in a very different headspace and set of circumstances this time. I’m not deeply unwell in the throes of clinical depression for starters. Maybe I should just accept this as the universe offering me a chance to experience all this with a clearer and healthier head.

I can accept that gift now. There’s a lot of experiences that I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have when I was ill and there’s still guilt around that that I work through in counselling. Today has stirred up rather more than I was expecting but it feels healthy even if it has been exhausting.

Late Night Musings

My sleep patterns, between stress and Lady M’s snoring are a bit all over the place at the moment. Usually the act of telling someone that then leads to sleep arriving shortly after, but we’ll see.

I’ve finally got round to playing Watchdogs Legion and I’ve no idea about anyone else but I’m enjoying it. With an overarching near future dystopia setting it seems to be moving more freely in its storytelling and the shared universe with Assassins Creed has led to some fun Easter eggs in the return to London. I may even have to reinstall AC Syndicate.

Legion’s tongue is stuck firmly in cheek even in its drama, and I think that’s the appeal for me, even if some of the voice acting is a bit jarring in places.

Still, there are worse ways to distract from stress than have your character fly over modern London, sat on a cargo drone and creating havoc on the streets below.

No Time To Stop

Another fast-paced week, and this week is so far balanced between recruitment and keeping the wheels on things while we transition through a major change of systems.

There’s a lot going on, and tempers are frayed sometimes; and yet we’ll get through it. I had a long chat with my boss this afternoon and had the reassurance that I’m doing well and that was something I definitely needed to hear. The black dog has been barking quite insistently the last few days.

Ow ow ow

As is traditional, a few days after exercise, muscles are complaining bitterly. Sadly that exercise was my being violently ill so the painful muscles are the ones connected to my ribs and diaphragm and it hurts when I laugh.

Those who know me, will appreciate how much this is an irritation. I like laughing.

A lot.

And yes, that’s in no small part due to being very familiar with depression, which is always lurking in the background.

So, hopefully I’ll feel less tender in the morning and I can enjoy my day off.

Low Day

I’ve been rough today, but it’s only been a blip at its worst point. There was nothing in particular that sparked it; I think the stresses of the last few weeks and being a carer while Lady M recuperates just hit saturation point.

As a result instead of things sliding like water off a duck’s back, I sank for a while. Cuddles and reassurance from Lady M helped hugely. Then she put the xbox controller in my hand and told me to shoot things in Destiny for a few hours – and that helped too. I’m a simple soul sometimes.

Other people on social media and via messaging also helped lift my spirits, as did some TV shows, and some graphics stuff that has ended up in both the RedBubble store and on Amazon as well. Links are in the menu above for each.

I’m still feeling a bit grey and subdued, but it’s not as heavy, grey, and brain fogged so, yay?

Cathartic Clearout

I bought the first piece of new furniture for our flat since we finalised buying it: a standard lamp with shelving. It arrived today and I spent a quick twenty minutes or so assembling it – and then clearing a space for it to live.

This meant steeling myself to start digging into the huge piles of cds and dvds that had taken over a corner of the living room. Many of them were items I’d bought when I wasn’t well, and I compulsively bought a great many things at the time.

There are items we’re keeping, certain classics for example, and comedian sets, but there are many more that neither of us have looked at in ten, or in some cases, twenty years – so in the bin they’ve gone.

I could have sold them on in non-lockdown circumstances, but I needed them gone – and it’s been oddly cathartic to get rid of impromptu reminders of painful times. There’s still more to go through, so that’ll keep me busy spring-cleaning tomorrow.

Where Am I?

A year ago I was reading reports of some new virus that was starting to spread, and felt that we’d probably be okay if we were sensible. I never dreamed that a year on I’d be wearing a mask nearly all day as a key worker, and as of this morning breaking the news to staff that another colleague had lost a close relative to covid.

Sometimes I’m numb to it, sometimes I’m angry. I’m grabbing humour where I can find it. Sometimes I wish I could work from home, but most of the time I’m glad I can get out of the house. I remind myself I’m very privileged, even as I want to curl up and hide under the blankets.

But hey, someone yesterday asked to buy the original of one of my sketches, so that’s a nice thing.

Creative Paralysis

I have so many things I want to do, and feel inspired to do, and yet amid the day to day requirements of work and keeping the home I’m unable to complete many of them.

It’s not so unusual, even with my grasshopper mind. I currently have two stories that I’m transcribing, as well as a third that I’m editing in the hope of it being the opener for a series of short stories via Kindle and the like. I also have tee-shirt designs to tidy, some graphics for a friend’s Twitch channel, a number of half-done sketches, and of course there’s posting here on a semi-regular basis and the D&D sessions on Sunday evenings.

That’s not even counting paid work at the library, regular counselling, games, reading, the washing up, hoovering, and other minutiae of daily living.

No wonder I feel exhausted, and why I struggle with feeling guilty when I do none of the creative things when I get home or, like this morning, have a few spare hours.

I know plenty of people who will say that I shouldn’t feel guilty, and one or two who would say that guilt is just a mask for anger. I know that in an ideal world I would apply myself to one thing, and then another thing, and then another thing in turn – but my brain and heart aren’t cooperating. I’m like the dog in Up who is constantly shouting Squirrel!

Maybe another nap will help

At last, the weekend

It’s Saturday night, I’ve been working, and I’ve had counselling. I think I can stop now. At least, I would if not for all the Diwali fireworks that are making me flinch.

So, here’s some more digital art from the archives. I’m going to put the kettle on and listen to something loud enough to drown out the explosions