Delayed…Due to a Delay

Do you ever feel delayed in life? Like you’re not really going anywhere but you’re not really sure why? 

This morning, on Clapham Junction’s 6th Platform, I arrived to find the train delayed on the departure board.  Shortly after, a posh lady came on the tanoy, to tell me that, “The 9:08 Southwest Trains service to Windsor and Eton Riverside is being delayed, due to a delay”. Er, no shit Sherlock! 

There was no broken down train, no signalling problem, no passenger taken ill at <enter station here>.  To make things worse, not only was the train delayed, it was cancelled altogether.  

When you suffer with depression, life can be very much like that.  Outside influences can have a big effect on a depressive’s mood, but so can no reason whatsoever.  Sometimes, life is the outside influence, and there’s really nothing you can do to stop life.  Well, there is, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  

Sometimes you just have to wait out the delay, the cancellation, and take the next service.  It might take you longer to get to your destination, and you will probably end up being late, but always better late than not at all. 

People without depression will never understand why sometimes you can’t put your finger on why you feel mad, sad, bad and very occasionally glad.  But if they ask you can always give them the old train excuse: you were delayed, due to a delay. 

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Bags to Boot

You know what’s been bothering me the last few days? On Saturday I bought a new pair of brown ankle boots.  No, it’s not that that’s bothering me.  Only two or three years ago I bought a brown bag, Jasper Conran from Debenhams.  Somewhere along the line of dejunking, I’ve given it away to the charity shop.  That’s what’s bothering me.  

Now I have boots and no bag.  What is a girl to do?

Buy another one, would be the sensible solution.  Except I’m not sure I have spare money for a bag this month, especially when I’ve spent money on boots (among other things).

It really chafes me that I had a perfectly good bag and got rid of it. Aha!  Maybe that’s it!  It wasn’t perfectly good, maybe the faux leather had started wearing off and I thought I’d get rid of it as it was starting to look a bit shit.  

Maybe, but I can’t remember.  

Hoarding possessions is linked to depression and anxiety.  People don’t want to get rid of physical stuff because it means they have to part with something inside of them too.  

I have made great progress the last few years.  You would not believe how many bags, boxes and crates have gone to the charity shops of Lincoln and London.  Of those hundreds of books, clothes, bags and other bric-a-brac, only a few have I thought that I wish I’d kept.  But those few eat into me with regret, poisoning my mind against further donations.

Like so much of my mental baggage though, there is only one thing to be done.  Let it go. 

More bags can be bought.  More fish in the sea.  

On this bright, sunny day, letting go seems like such an easy concept.  If I had time right now I’d go into  Debenhams and buy another bag.  Part with my money and not think about the fact that I’m buying something I had but gave away on a whim.  I don’t have time though, so a new bag will have to wait.  

Physical possessions, while important, are not the be all and end all.  I know that I did the right thing getting rid of the Jasper bag.  Because the last few years I have been sinking in stuff, and would have suffocated under the weight of it had I not seriously dejunked. 

I don’t think I’ll ever be in a position to live in a shack with the most minimal of possessions.  But as my room becomes tidier, so does my mind.  As I see a path through the clutter in my house, my mind will visualise the path I am to take.  There is no charity shop in my mind, but perhaps I should build one.  Except it won’t be a shop that sells on; just takes donations and keeps them safe.  So that when I’m ready, I can look back at those memories in a way that doesn’t hurt so much. 

Come Back to What You Know

My first blog back at 33andlostinlife sees me borrowing a blog title from an old song by West Yorkshire band, Embrace.  I’ve had my ex-husband’s Cigarettes and Alcohol, a mostly 90s Indie compilation on repeat album mode for the last month, and this song is one of the eight that I lately squeezed onto a playlist of favourites.  

On 15th January 2015, I made a bold statement on this blog that I was going to set up a new blog and write much more positive blog posts.  That was a great idea, and still is, but have you seen any new, more positive blog posts?  No, me neither.  

Almost seven months later, I find myself even more lost in life than ever before.  A stressful week at work last week has left that boat rocking, and I’m feeling the need to abandon ship more than ever.  Of course, it’s something I should have done a long time ago, so perhaps it’s a good thing, but actually finding something else freaks me out.  

The problem is, I want to be a writer.  So I want a writing job.  Ideally I’d be writing a column in a magazine like Lucy Mangan but I’m nowhere near ready for that yet, and not quite as ‘outspoken’ as the girl born to Northern parents who lived in the South (the total opposite to me) who writes for The Guardian newspaper and Stylist magazine. 

My dilemma is whether to get a writing job of any sort, or just go for a normal admin job, but one that pays a lot more.  London has horrendously expensive living costs and while I’ve found sanctuary in my small studio flat and garden (Update: Bish is very happy and spends all his time outside with the exception of when this horrible August rain pours, which keeps him housebound and sees him taking over my pillow), I still have very little money (if any) left at the end of the month.  Whichever option I choose for my next job, the one thing I’ve struggled with is confidence in myself, and that stands like the Berlin Wall as a blocker to any future moves.  

Confidence to gain some work experience as a writer.  Confidence that yes of course I can do that £34k a year data role (and bag a £12k pay rise).  Confidence that I must summon from somewhere if I am going to get myself out of this rut I face and move forward with my life.  

I’ve been inspired lately by two people.  One is Aussie Natalie Imbruglia, former lovely Neighbour and 90s pop songstress famous for telling us it’s ok to be cold and ashamed and lying naked on the floor when the love of your life turns out to be a bit of a knob.  A recent article in the Evening Standard magazine tells how Natalie suffered with depression even during her most successful period, becoming reclusive.  18 years later, she says “Food as medicine.  And I feel great.”  I will second that, although I have a feeling she’s not talking about scoffing a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or Double Decker when she gets stressed.  Divorcée Natalie certainly looks fab at forty, and just as gorgeous now as she did back in 1997 singing Torn in those combats.  Her new album, Male, is out on 21st August.  Read her full interview here.

The other person to inspire me is fellow Northerner Danny McNamara, co-writer of 90s hit Come Back to What You know and lead singer of Embrace.  Writing his own blog in 2014, he tells how the inspiration for his songs comes from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Suffering a traumatic childhood incident that “was traumatic, terrifying, and…almost killed me,” Danny reveals how “it’s literally coloured everything I’ve done since.”  Suffering PTSD between the ages of 19 and 22, he suffered multiple panic attacks a day, wasn’t eating, sleeping and went down to ten stone (63kg) – not much for someone who stands at 6 foot 2 (187cm).  

He used songwriting to get himself out of the dark place he was in, and aged 44 he says he’s better now, not just well.  More importantly he’s still writing and recording with Embrace.  He spoke out about his mental health issues last year because he was inspired by others speaking out about their experiences.  You can read his full blog here

I can agree with that.  And I’m reminded that the reason I started this blog was to get some cathartic therapy from writing about my own experiences with depression.  But more than that: so that other people could read about them and perhaps not feel so alone and sinking in their own negative thoughts.

I was told my blog was depressing.  Well, yeah, it’s a blog about living with depression, dur.  And while I’d love to be writing shiny, happy blogs, I’d rather be writing depressing blogs than nothing at all.  I have done some writing during the time since my last blog post; I started a novel which got to about 20 pages before I shied away from it.  But I haven’t looked at it for months, although I keep thinking about picking it up again, and that’s a start.  

One of my uni lecturers gave me what really was the most simple piece of advice: you want to be a writer, then write!  Since discovering my ability to write in 2011, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I know it is my destiny (not my density…although it does weigh me down at times).    But writing with depression is hard.  Although not impossible, as many creative people, including Natalie and Danny, will tell you.  

So for now, I’m coming back to what I know.  I was the most prolific  in my writing than I’d ever been last year, until my living situation ground that to a holt.  I’m well out of that now, and the person that told me my blogs were depressing is no longer in my life (thank God).  I’m going to continue this journey as [insert age] andlostinlife, because it’s my journey, and my stats tell me there are still people out there reading it, almost daily.  That amazes me, considering there’ve been no new posts for over half a year.  But maybe those people passing through will stop by for a bit longer next time, and those of you who followed me before will continue to do so.  I had gained a good following, and not just my friends and family, who of course I appreciate their support, but fellow bloggers from across the world.  

I can’t promise what type of blogs will follow.  But if you don’t like what’s contained within them you are free to leave any time.  This isn’t Hotel California.  If you do, then come back to what you know.  Because I am.  

Come Back to What You Know – Embrace (1998)

You Bet Your Life

While I have spent the last month without the company of my male friend, the last week has seen me enjoy some very good times courtesy of other male friends. Now before you get all excited, both were on a strictly platonic basis. But both gave me the opportunity to enjoy life outside my usual haunts without any expectations.

On Thursday, I headed into Central London with one of my male colleagues to another colleague’s leaving do. As we debated the closest tube stop to our destination in the West End, he suggested that we stop by The Savoy hotel for a cheeky cocktail. One of London’s five-star hotels, it is not the type of place I frequent, but I was excited by the prospect of a spontaneous visit. So we headed in, and found a table in their American Bar (the American Studies student in me loved that). I have to admit I was in awe of my surroundings. We stayed for two cocktails each, and made two requests to the piano man, the first being Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are, and the second being, erm, Billy Joel’s Piano Man. In my defence I had used up all my originality in just being in my new location. I considered asking for something by heavy metal rockers, Megadeath, but I managed to show at least some restraint for the high-society venue I found myself in.

My housemate often tells me I want to switch off from my problems, and I have to say that hour in The Savoy sure did allow me to disappear into another world for a while. But I loved every minute and would do it again given the chance.

Now onto my second jaunt. Yesterday I met another male friend in Central London. After we stopped by Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, we discussed what our plan for the rest of the evening would be. He suggested a casino. I countered with the cinema, hoping that we could see Gone Girl before it disappears from the big screen. I had my concerns about a casino, and my purse screamed no. But he said there was no entry fee, and that he would gamble with his money, so I figured why not.

I haven’t been into a casino since an overnight trip to Las Vegas in 2011 with some friends and not spent any real time in one since a four-day trip with my ex-husband in 2008, but the one in Leicester Square immediately took me back there. We found an electronic roulette table (although I don’t remember seeing those six years ago) and he placed his bet. I chipped in with the odd number, usually my birthday or a random pick. While none of my numbers came up, we left the casino £60 up, so I guess he must have done something right.

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“What I win, I keep. What you win, I keep. Got that?”

We left the casino to be faced with the huge billboard of Gone Girl on the front of the big Odeon in Leicester Square, the one where they screen all the big premiers. The expensive one. With a screening of Gone Girl starting in twenty minutes, our perfectly-timed winnings paid for our tickets, two portions of sweet and salty popcorn, a bag of chocolate sweets and two bottles of water.

After the movie, our winnings also paid for most of two portions of ribs at Garfunkel’s, which we devoured before getting our respective night buses home.

My unhappiness in my home life has led me to home-avoid a lot lately. But the silver lining in that has allowed me to discover a new social life. As well, I am finally feeling financially free to socialise regularly, a far cry from my days as a temp after I first moved to London, when I had to walk 40 minutes to work because I just didn’t have the tube fare. I have a lot of work to do on my home life, and feeling comfortable in my own home, which at the moment is causing me great problems, but like my other problems in life, I may be the root cause of all those issues.

Spontaneity was key in both of my fun trips out this week. Letting go of inhibitions and enjoying the moment. Not concerning myself with the cost, which in both cases turned out to be minimal anyway.

A lot is said about the work/life balance, but what I really need right now is a home/social life balance. That desire to go out and socialise without the need to feel like I am escaping from my own home. I’m not a betting person but if I was, I’d say I need to strike a balance between the two if I want to hit the jackpot.

It would be rude of me to go and leave you without any Billy Joel, so enjoy this song. So many I could choose, but I’m sticking with Just the Way You Are. For once, the lyrics aren’t directed at anybody other than myself.

Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel (1977)

It’s a SAD, SAD Summer

Ok, so 80s supergirl group, Bananarama called it a Cruel Summer, which I guess is also an applicable term. After the longest sunny spell that I can remember in years, the last week had seen plummeting temperatures and almost daily rain. I’ve gone from wearing dresses and bare legs with flip flops to jeans with socks, Converse, top, cardigan, denim jacket and scarf. And even then at times I’ve wondered if I’m going to be warm enough.

I’ve had friends staying from overseas who have also been dressed more, if a little over sensibly for the weather, and we’ve been out and about in London and other places, which may have influenced my wearing so many clothes. But after getting caught in the rain a few times and being chilled to the bone, I feel like I’m scared that I’m going to get cold. And with that, I just feel scared. My mood has dropped as quickly as the temperature, and I find myself becoming irritable and tearful. The unsettled feeling I’ve had with my life over the last few months has been exacerbated and I feel like I can’t find a way out of this. My Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is back with a vengeance, usually not appearing until at least September or October, and going into full swing in November, I feel like it’s going to be a long winter.

Last week while waiting at Richmond for the train home, I was stood on the platform in the tunnel, which is the best place to be located if you want to get in the first carriage ready to be straight up the stairs and out at Twickenham. As I looked through the dark tunnel, there was light at the end of it, as the sunshine illuminated the small piece of track, surrounded by trees, that exits the tunnel before it goes round the corner and out of sight. I tried to take a picture, but all I got was a big bright light surrounded by darkness. But on second thoughts, maybe that is all I needed to see.

Cruel Summer – Bananarama (1983)

Little Miss Grumpy

I am so grumpy this Monday morning. Thank god for Fleetwood Mac is all I can say. It’s definitely softening the edges of this razor-edged mardy from hell.

Let’s Read and Make-up

A few months ago I wrote a blog about doing my make-up on the tube on the way to work, all the while being eyeballed by a little girl. Today, I was also doing my make-up on the train, although I’m glad to say this is a one-off, as I am at least organised enough to make-up my face nowadays before I leave the house.

As I painted my face, the little girl, who was about nine, read her copy of Stylist magazine.

Since I moved to Twickenham, I no longer get a copy of Stylist every Wednesday. The guys outside Twickenham station try to give me a copy of City AM every day, but who wants that financial mumbojumbo (not me anyway – probably those that have loads of money already and are in the business of making more).

Anyway, I’m glad the little girl got her copy. At least someone around here knows her priorities.

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