Monthly Archives: August 2015

Feeling trapped by my own sense of inadequacy.

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Feeling trapped by my own sense of inadequacy.

There is a literal and metaphorical cloud hanging over me today. It is raining outside and each drop is being taken by me as another increment in feeling down. I cannot escape this sense of not knowing what to do; both short and long term. I do not know what to do for the next hour of my life, or what to do for the foreseeable future. I certainly have my dreams and aspirations, but they do seem like a long distant and sometimes unattainable affair. I can feel a tiny positive voice in my head expressing the belief that this is a passing phase and the feeling will go away soon; I know that it most likely will, but for now it is being drowned out like a timid person in a boisterous party.

Sometimes, and this is clearly one of those times, the negative voices in my head gain the ascendency and ask all the questions that can wound me to the core. Are you ever going to make money as a writer? Are you good enough? Was the book you wrote worth people’s time reading? Do you want your future children to see you as a failure? With a wry smile, I have to admire my negative side’s skill in trying to take me apart. It strikes with surgical precision with cuts so sharp it takes a while to know I am bleeding.

Yet, even as I write this, I am starting to feel better. Words have a wonderful healing aspect for me, getting them out of my head and onto something, whether it be paper, this blog or speaking them aloud even though there might not be anyone else in the room to hear them. Writing, even if no-one else reads my words is my own personal therapy. Considering this now, I am thinking that this might be enough. Or it is enough to get me through this current period of malcontent and back to a place where I can be positive enough to chase my dreams with passion, even if they do not work out the way I would like them to.

I have been wondering why I write this blog? I know it does not reach many people, but maybe that is not the point. Perhaps, it is to help myself and if in the process I can help anyone else at all, then I am going to take that as good enough. I still feel an emotional vacuum inside of me, yet that blank canvas is something that can now be painted in a way I choose. I have said before that it is ok to feel down. The trick is not to let it last too long. So, onwards and upwards. Time for inspirational music, a bath and a good book, food to heal the soul and time with my nearest and dearest. After all a sad smile is still a smile.

Take care buddies,

David.

Image retrieved from here

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Daves of the Week Radio Show – 21.8.2015

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Daves of the Week Radio Show – 21.8.2015

This week’s show continues to feature The Grange Centre in Bookham with a theme of ‘Positive about disability’ and inspirational music. There is also an interview with Graham Hughes on being a support worker and the new chicken run for tenants of The Grange Centre. Tom S – a tenant from The Grange continues to co-host and tells us about speed dating for people with disabilities.

Movies – Thoughts and Questions.

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Movies – Thoughts and Questions.

(Warning – contains spoilers but the movies concerned are not that good, so I would not worry about watching them).

I have been catching up on movies recently. I love movies and have been enjoying them since I first watched pirated copies of Disney movies when I was about five or so. For the younger generations, I am talking about piracy when a video, or VHS was recorded onto a blank video or VHS and driven around in the back of cars and delivered to your house by one of your dad’s dodgy mates. I will say this, at least people had to put in some effort to making pirated copies back then. There was none of this press a button to download malarky. Anyways, I have been a tad busy of late and I have missed out on a lot of films. Having some free time I decided to remedy this.

When it comes to watching movies, I have two distinct schools of thought when it comes to choosing them. The first is ‘I have heard great things about this movie, I must watch it.’ The second is ‘This is the first thing on the Netflix list so I will give it a go.’ The second has a decided hit and miss quality to it. So, here are my thoughts on the movies I have watched recently.

Jack Reacher.

I am not going to talk about the casting of Tom Cruise in this movie directly. I am going to mention it in passing, but not for the obvious reasons. There were several things about this movie that bugged the hell out of me. FIrst off was the storyline. I have not read the book, so I do not know how much was changed for the movie. Long (and slightly dull) story short – Five people get shot to hide the murder of one person that a crazy Russian prisoner needed killed to get their construction firm. Fun point, the Russian guy bit off his own fingers and blinded himself in one eye in prison to avoid something or other. I would advise to not commit a crime in the first place, but horses for courses and all that. The first thing that relly bothered me is indirectly related to Tom Cruise being cast in the role of a 6 foot 5 inches character. I do not care about the fact that Tom Cruise was cast in the movie, I have other things to worry about. What did bug me was the decision not to alter the script to acknowledge that he is only five foot six inches. In one scene, a cop ask a hotel clerk if there was anyone staying at the hotel who could kill a women with one punch. The clerk replies the guy in 105 (or whatever room it was) and says, when asked why, take a look at him and you will understand. In the book this would have made sense; the inference being a guy 6 foot 5 inches tall and built like a brick shit house could in theory kill a women with one punch. So why leave the line in for the movie and Tom Cruise? However good an actor he is, he does not look like he could kill a person with one punch. The second thing that really bothered me was the following scene where the policeman (spoiler time – he is a bad guy) comes out of the hotel and, under the impression that somehow Tom Cruise could kill a women with one punch, locks eyes with Reacher as he pulls into the parking lock. There is a close up of the cops hands clenching in anger as he thinks Tom killed this poor girl and goes onto try and chase him down. This is a bullshit scene. The director knows full well the cop is a bad guy and knows that Reacher did not kill the girl. So why the lie to the audience? It is to make the audience think, that cop can’t be a bad guy, he wants to arrest Reacher for murder. This is lazy direction and an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the audience with a cheap trick rather than with any style or flair. I mean, treat your audience with respect for God’s sake.

Kick-Ass 2.

My major problem with this movie is the title. The same goes for Kick-ass. The main character called Kick-Ass basically does bugger all. Sure, he narrates the movies and gets screen time, but what is the point of screen time when you are doing nothing on the screen? All he does seem to do is get beaten up and rely on Hit Girl to save him. So, why wasn’t the movie called Hit Girl? If Batman sat around the Batcave and sent Robin out to do all the hard work, surely Robin would sidle up at some point and say ‘Hey, how about a bit of credit where credit is due?’ So I am saying Kick-ass is a lazy, glory hogging and selfish twat. Also, the movie was pretty shit, but I am mostly annoyed about the title thing.

The November Man.

This actually wasn’t too bad compared to Jack Reacher and Kick-ass 2. Then again, ‘not too bad’ is not what I want from my movies. It was an average story of politcial shennagins and lots of killing. The one thing I did note, was that all fight scenes seem to be the same now. The punch, counter, headbut technique was in all three of the movies. God I miss Jackie Chan. He was inventive with his violence.

Big Hero Six.

The positive film. I loved this. My only complaint/question is this; what is with Disney/Pixar/CGI movies being so utterly tragic in the opening ten minutes? Is it a new rule that I am not aware of? The opeing of Up is the most devastatingly sad opeing to a movie I have ever seen. Big Hero Six follows a similar pattern. I going to be completely honest. I have this weird defect where I do not cry when I should. I do not cry at funerals, but show me a sad opening to a CGI movie and it crushes me. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of a cartoony/happy movie with death and grief that cuts through my brain and enters parts of my psyche that I otherwise close off. Either way, I do find it a brutal way to teach kids about death, although I suppose there is no good way to do it.

Ok, that is my rant over. I think I am going to follow this up with a post about my hatred of remakes/reboots soon.

Take care buddies,

David.

Image retrieved from here

The beach of the present and the waves of the past.

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The beach of the present and the waves of the past.

I am sat on a beach that is the present. Everything is pleasant; the sky is blue, the sand is soft and a gentle breeze ripples across my skin. Life in the present is good. While I am thinking about life and all that it holds for me, the waves of the past come lapping slowly towards me. I become aware of them and move further back from the sea of memories. I remain in the present and my mind wanders again. Un-noticed, the waves come closer again and lost in my reverie, I do not move back from them. The waves pull me gently at first; a long forgotten summers day, a girl I had a crush on when I was five or the smell of freshly cut grass in the field behind the house I grew up in. Then the waves get stronger, more powerful and darker in nature. Before I know it, I am pulled far out to sea as memory after memory crashes down on me. It is in these moments that I believe time travel is possible. I exist in those past memories as realistically as the original experience. They can suffocate me with the feelings of things that happened more than half my life ago. I surface and catch my breath, try and swim back to the shore, but the undertow has me in its grip and will not let go. In the blue green world under the water, images and recollections of my life flash before my eyes as if I were drowning in reality. The choice is before me. Swim harder and faster than I ever have before or let my lungs fill with those memories and feel their salt water sting until I can breath no more. Upwards then. break the surface, swim for dry land and vomit up the past until I am cleansed of it. On dry land, in the present, I am who and what the past has made me. I am more than that however. I am who and what the past has made me with the knowledge that not everything that happened has been allowed to alter me, or if it did, then I am aware of that enough to reverse the process. The past has its pull to be sure, so I anchor myself in the present and look to the future when I can.

[Image retrieved from here]

Max Payne 3 and beating of levels of depression.

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Max Payne 3 and beating of levels of depression.

I wanted to post something I wrote a while ago. I did not write it as a post or a blog. I just wrote it the morning after a bad night. I want to make something very clear. I am not in this position anymore. I am very happy, off anti-depressants and do not need therapy anymore. However, I do know that a lot of people find it hard to talk about depression and I figure it might help someone. Also, I think depression needs as many kicks in the balls as it can get.

Max Payne 3 and the beating of levels of depression. 

As I lay in bed early afternoon, still drunk from the night before and feeling new levels of self loathing and depression a tiny thought snuck into my head. It was to do with Max Payne 3 and depression. Max Payne has a special place in my heart. The original is still my favourite game. Max Payne 3 saw me through two separate instances on depression when I was signed off from work for over two months. It kept me occupied and from thinking about self harm. It mostly worked on this count. It kept me from thinking too many dark thoughts and gave time for my anti-depressants to do their thing. The reason it helped was that I became very good at it. I say this not to brag – but hey, who I am kidding? I completed the New York Minute Hardcore mode. I completed a thirty gigabyte game all the way through without dying, under a time limit. What has this to do with depression I hear you rightly ask? A tiny thought that snuck into my brain I answer. What if I put that same level of dedication, patience, attention to detail, honing my reflexes, learning the rules of that world and how to break them, remembering what enemy came out of where and how to dispatch them and not dying into beating depression as I did with Max Payne 3? With depression being the cunt that it is, I will have ample opportunity to replay the same level over and over again until I know it off by heart. As I write this, I have a recurring image playing behind my eyes of me calmly cutting the skin on my left arm. My natural reaction is to repress this. Who would want to think about that? Or acknowledge that they are thinking about doing that to themselves? Perhaps I should remember it. I should remember every bloody detail of it. How the skin separates from the flesh. How, even though I know how much it hurts, I do not stop myself from doing it. The fact that it feels good. I should remember this like the garage scene on the first level of Max Payne 3. I can see it now although it has been over a year since I played it last. Max slides behind a pillar. Enemies run into to cover. The boss is dragged away behind a locked gate. And go…
I should remember thoughts of self harm in this way. I should think of ways of beating this thought. Not dealing with, but beating it. Otherwise I am simply playing the same level over and over again and not wanting to get past it. Which is exactly what I have been doing. So how do I beat this? As I write this I admit I do not know the answer. Yet, even as I write this, another thought has come to me. What would Max Payne do? I do not say this lightly, mockingly or without all due respect to anyone who has ever suffered or suffers depression. I say this as an exercise in thinking through how to beat depression. So, what would old Maxy boy do if a hailstorm of depressive gunfire assailed him?

Option 1: Get into cover.

Ok. Good idea. When depression hits it can hit hard and contrary to logic, when I am at my happiest. It makes sense to bunker down and try to survive. The problem with cover though is that it is purely defensive. I can hide and hope the enemies won’t flank me and creep up on me and eventually, get me.

Luckily, Max Payne makes a habit of not staying in cover. He attacks, but he attacks with a set of skills.

Option 2: Slow down time.

Admittedly, a nifty trick to pull off and one we all wish we could do. Depression does not like me to try this. As soon as I take that first attempt at a calming breath, the panic sweeps in, the rage explodes in my chest and anger swamps my brain. Of course it does this. Depression does not want me to be calm. It is more effective if I am not calm. Much easier to knock me off balance and keep me that way. Yet, is this any different to learning how to guide Max through a burning office building? The principles are the same. Pressure, a need to escape the situation, intense heat. So, I know when I try to calm down depression will fight back. So, I need to find a way to fight back too. Not necessarily harder, just a way that wins. As I write this I do not know how to succeed at this. I am hoping an answer comes to me. I think being in cover while trying to stay calm is a start. Sadly in real life, cover is not always available. Being at work with colleagues does not give a lot of space to cover and deal with an onset of depression. Not withstanding the embarrassment of being depressed at work in the first place. Then again, maybe I have to find my own cover and not rely on it being readily available. Toilet breaks, pretending to smoke to be safely alone for a few minutes, emergency phone call from home that has to be taken can all be ways of getting into cover, even if only for a few minutes. But in those few minutes, I can calm down. I know I have talked my self down from some desperate heights before. Every time I did I had to regain control first. And that came from breathing and forcing myself to be calm. I know this is a contradiction, but desperate times call for desperate measures. In this instance it is a pure battle between me wanting to be calm so I can back to being happy, or at least as close to it as I know how to be and depression wanting me to not be happy. Depression has a whole host of ways to do this. The cocksucker uses my own unconscious against me. It knows secrets that I am not consciously aware of (thanks a bunch repression). It is the perfect time to attack. So what are my options? Breath. Force every other thought out of my head through pure force of will power and a desire not to be beaten and to complete this god damn bitch of a level. One thought. Breath. When I achieve that, everything does not become easier. It is still hard. It is now manageable. Which brings me onto what Max would do next.

Option 3: Attack.

Max leaps out of cover guns blazing. Enemies, stunned by this sudden and unpredicted assault fire wildly, missing him by inches. But those inches are enough. Bullets slam into his foes; they go down in grisly heaps one by one and they are all dead by the time Max hit’s the floor. I know right? If it only it were that simple. The truth is that the ninety nine times I did it this way before I succeeded in my hundred attempt resulted in Max being shot down before I killed anyone and seeing that damn loading screen that told me I had let people, especially Max, down. Max did seem to want to assist his own downfall in this regard by continuously jumping into danger at every available moment. My therapist and my fiancé (who is also a counsellor) would not doubt find it interesting that Max is my hero. A man doomed to tragedy no matter what he does. Yet, that is why he is my hero. He digs himself out of the trouble he finds or puts himself in.

The completing of the game can be done in many ways. My way was to use all of the advantages Max has. This seems fair to me. He is facing a literal army of enemies so needs all the help he can get. My own troubles are much less considerable. So Max Payne tactics should work right?

Get into cover first. Then calm down. Then, using all my knowledge and experience of my depression, where my enemies are going to jump out from, where they are going to lay in wait for me, focusing my aim so I do not miss my targets and staying alive, I can beat my levels of depression. Right?

As I write this I do not know. Yet. I do think I might be able to beat the first level of depression by doing something I should have done a long time ago. Like old Maxy boy, it is time to dry out a bit. Quitting drinking is going to be hard. Luckily, I do not really enjoy it anymore. It affects my anti-depressants too, which is another genius way I have tried to get better before now. Now though, I am seeing it as the option menu before I start the game. I simply need to set it to the ‘not drunk’ setting. As I am a fan of the hard mode of games, I can be ok with this as I have made it plenty hard enough before, and maybe this once, it is ok for me to start this game on easy mode.

So, I will give this idea a try. Now, if there were only something to help me stay occupied so I do not drink for the next seven days. Ah…good old Max saves me again.

Take (the best) care buddies,

David.

[Image retrieved from here]