Gotta be Kind

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

This is my favourite Kurt Vonnegut quote and it applies today. All we need in life, I believe, to be happy in that -truly-satisfied-kind-of-way is to just be kind. For most of us, we are never going to change the world. But what we can do is change someone’s day, every day. And the only way we can achieve that is simply by being kind. And the thing about kindness is it is infinite and it is contagious and just makes me you feel bloody good. 

vonnegut

My best friend will say her final goodbye to her nana today, and aside from it being horrible because it brings so many memories back for me, it is equally horrible because I just don’t know what to say to her. Nothing I can say is going to make her feel better or hurt less, but I can’t say nothing. So I think in situations like this you just have to be kind. She likes Harry Potter and she likes owls. So she has a chocolate wand and a key ring from Harry Potter Studios, London, and she has an owl photo frame, and a candle. Inside one of my birthday cards she wrote “this owl reminds me of when I said I would always be lurking somewhere in your life.” I never see my best friend. She lives very close but we never see each other. But I do know that she is in my life. And I need her to know that her nana will always be with her, too. 

“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, and how much was mine to keep.”

Kurt Vonnegut

 

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A million miles from a million dollars.

Having listened to One Republic’s Native album, there are several songs that stood out to me: I Lived; Life in Colour; and, most of all, Preacher.

I have never hidden the fact that I’m not religious, I am very open to the fact that at times I wish I was religious. Sometimes, I just wish I had something to believe in. But I understand that for lots of reasons religion is problematic, a further thing I have been very open about.

Anyway, Preacher seems to be the track off the album that has had the most people talking. The song seems to be centered around a grandfather who was a preacher, and a grandson’s (the singer, although not necessarily Ryan Tedder) interpretation and telling of his grandfathers stories and beliefs. There is a line that has been rather controversial, and I can see why: He says “God only helps those who learn to help themselves.” I fully understand why this would be a sticky line for many listeners. Scrolling through YouTube comments has led to an exposure to a lot of people asking about refugees, and African children, and people who simply cannot help themselves. Does God, then, not help those? Do they not deserve to be helped?

A very logical interpretation of the line. However, as a person who isn’t religious, I take something different from the line. We all get to a point in our lives when we hit rock bottom, and then, when rock bottom seems like it is ten thousand feet higher than we are. I know it, I think I’m writing this from that very place. However, there comes a day (and I promise the day does come) when we realise that we simply cannot carry on living like this. Something has to change. And, then the realisation comes that, really, when we are honest with ourselves, the only person who can get us out of the ruts, or the problems, or the mood that we are in is ourselves. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t accept help, of course we should. Many times we will only get help because someone else has pointed our problems out to us, they have spoken the words that we have heard in our heads for a long time. And often, the people who voice their concerns will be the ones to help us along the way. But, when we do find the strength to get help, then I have chosen to believe that if a God does exist, this is the time when he (or she) will help.

What I’m saying is we cannot sit around and wait for religion to fix our problems for us. We have to get up or give up. And today, I got up and I booked myself in with a counsellor.

 

Preacher

When I was a kid
My grandfather was a preacher
He’d talk about love
Yeah he was something like a teacher
He said, “God only helps those
Who learn to help themselves.
He was a million miles from a million dollars
But you could never spend his wealth.

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Afire Love

Because sometimes you can hear a song and you just appreciate life a little more afterwards.

Ed Sheeran’s Afire Love is a tribute to his late grandfather who suffered Alzheimer’s disease. A few weeks before my little nana died, I walked into her bedroom and she didn’t know who I was. And in that moment I pictured all the years we had shared fading. As awful as it sounds, I couldn’t cope with knowing that she no longer knew me. If she no longer knew me, then how could she possibly know how much I loved and appreciated her?

The next day, I walked into her bedroom and I still had my headphones in, and her mouth moved, and I remember stopping in my tracks because I thought I had read her lips but I wasn’t sure. I remember taking out my headphones and saying ‘say that again.’

And she said it.

Hello Katie.

I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard it must be for sufferers of Alzheimer’s and their families. The closer my nana got to dying, the more confused she became.  But every single day that I think of her I take a moment to appreciate that right until she couldn’t hold on any longer, she knew who I was. Every day I appreciate that I was fortunate to have my nana with me until the end, instead of a shell of the lady she once was.

 Regardless of what this song means to you, I guarantee you will have it on repeat. 

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A thought

It’s funny how the past frames us; how the person we used to be never lets loose of the person we are.

Past failures and disappointments, even victories, take hold of us.

They haunt us like ghosts.

Or visit us like old friends.

                                                  -Julian Baker, One Tree Hill

 

 

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Moths in my chest, moths in my mind.

For the longest time I have been feeling I have needed to write. Like there is something I have had to get off my chest, or, more accurately off my mind. But there is so much going on in my mind that I haven’t been able to separate or compartmentalise anything. So I’ve just been trying to deal with it. Trying to get out of bed on a morning, function almost-normally without anybody noticing, and get through the day. A friend of mine said that the lowest point you can hit is when you physically can’t get yourself out of bed, and I argued that it wasn’t. But I think I was only arguing because I knew, on some level, that she was right. I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping, and I have to get out of bed the second I wake up, before my brain has switched on properly, because if I lie in bed long enough to think about things, I know it would be too easy to just turn over, pull the covers up and give up.

So this is me trying to process things, trying to separate things out in my mind. And yet I am already struggling so I will what seems to be the biggest problem first.

I have been doing my MA for two years now, and I have less than a month to go and everything has fallen apart. I am behind on my work, I can’t concentrate and the thought of being at university or doing anything slightly related to university brings sick into my throat and gives me really awful chest pains. In the book The God of Small Things, there is a motif of a moth in the chest. This is how I picture my anxiety, like a moth moving around in my chest. Except lately it seems that the moth is too big to even move, it’s just there. Suffocating.

I do my MA part time because I also work. At one point I was working three jobs to get myself by. Now I work two. I have a research job with the university, and I can’t even rationalise why but it makes me as anxious as thinking about my dissertation. I am completely indebted to the university for giving me this research job and the bursary that came with it. Because of this I have been able to leave one job. However, this job has done absolutely nothing for my self-confidence. Month by month, meeting after meeting, and in no way deliberately on the university’s part but I could feel myself feeling more and more inferior. Each week I would have to do my job, and each week I would dread it a little more. It’s not my research interest, and it’s not my research area. I have never had to do so much archive work before. I wasn’t trained in many aspects of what it was I needed to be doing. I wasn’t directed very much. And I should have spoken up sooner but I couldn’t. And now, those people who know small details of how it makes me feel, sort of lay blame on me for not speaking up. But there is something vital that they do not understand: I am not anxious because I didn’t speak up; I didn’t speak up because I am absolutely crippled with anxiety.

Which leads me nicely onto my next point, my anxiety. I don’t know how to even talk about this properly. I don’t know how to make people understand without just sounding like any other person who has ever been slightly anxious over something.

It will not go away. I struggle with so many different things daily, but I can never call them to mind because they always change. And this makes it hard to make people understand. I try to act normal but it is getting increasingly harder because the pains in my chest are getting worse, and right now it feels like someone is sitting on me. Some days I can’t even bear to wear a bra because I can’t stand any more pressure being on that area of my body. I am so caught up in my mind that I can go entire days without having a drink, or something to eat. People struggle with different things every day, and I know that things could be so much worse, but that doesn’t make me feel like I am able to cope with this any better.

Since Robin Williams’ passing, a lot of conversations have opened up regarding depression. And I think this is an excellent thing because mental health is something that should be spoken about, much more frequently than it is. But then, as a friend said, you get all kinds of people who then think they have had depression, and it makes it so much worse for the people who have it. And while I think this is partially true, it is mainly the people who have it who will not talk about it (like my parents) and so I can’t help but think that if people who don’t have it at all, or people who think they might have it don’t talk about it, then who the hell will? I have really noticed however a clear divide in these conversations. There are the people who suffer, and then there are the people who claim to suffer. And I have openly witnessed people who believe they have it bad claiming that they have got it worse. Come on, how can we possibly judge another person’s depression? Yes, there is a difference between being sad and being depressed, but telling someone who thinks they are depressed that they are not because you are and you are so much worse for them only has a negative impact on people’s inclination to share their feelings. Who would share their fears or their sadness or their anxieties if they were just going to be told that they don’t have it bad? This has turned into a rant, probably an incoherent one, but I just think it is hard to open up about how we really feel to begin with, let’s not make it harder for each other by then judging how sad or depressed someone is.

I have a job lined up for September, and while I don’t think too much about the future after that, I have been thinking about what to do next. Or, more specifically, where to go. I keep hearing a voice in my head which is telling me to look for a job somewhere away from where I am now. Where I have always been. And lately, I have been thinking why my thoughts keep leading to the possibility of moving. And I think I may know why. I’ve realised that although I have a fair amount of friends, I’m on the outside of all of their friendship groups. I don’t have a steady group of friends, I see the odd person on the odd occasion. And this means that I see a lot of things that I don’t get invited to. And when you have more than one friend in one of these friendship groups….it just feels fucking lonely. And because I have some sort of paranoia problem, I have obviously decided that it is because there is something wrong with me. So the voice that is telling me to take a job somewhere else is actually saying: ‘take a job somewhere else because you have nothing keeping you here. They wouldn’t care if you left.’ Like I said earlier, I am well aware that people have it worse, but my god does it feel lonely when you feel like you have no friends.

And of course, the main thing, the thing that has been wrong with me for over a year now. The loss of my little nana. It seems to happen in cycles where, although I miss her every day, I can get through weeks at a time without feeling guilty about it, or hating myself. And this all stems from the fact that the day before she died, I refused to hold her hand and I didn’t say goodbye. The thought of touching her was just too much, and I tell myself that I didn’t realise that that was the time to say goodbye. Except, deep down, I think I knew. I think I knew that she was going to slip away, but I just wouldn’t admit it. And it haunts me. More than anything in my life. People ask me if I really think this is something she would hold against me, and of course she wouldn’t, I don’t think. But she’s not here for me to ask, is she? And that’s on me. I have to live with the fact that I just left the bedroom of one of the people who meant the most to me in the world, and I walked out the front door, down the street, around the corner and I didn’t look back. Not once. She died about 8 hours later.

 

I guess, I just needed to write this to admit to myself that I’m struggling with life.

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09/07/2014

There is an awful lot I feel like writing about today. I probably should have made several posts but the days have all rolled together and I’m in one of those very unproductive moods where I don’t feel like leaving the house. So I figured I would at least write.
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Find the words to make it right again.

I’ve typed and deleted three paragraphs. And it’s not working. It’s complicated:

  • Friend that is a boy.
  • Five years.
  • Two incidents.
  • No sex.
  • Feelings. Not returned.
  • “I’m not going to wait around for you.”
  • I believed the above.
  • Selfishly held onto friend even though I thought things may have got complicated.
  • Five years of friendship.
  • One new person in my life.
  • Now a very complicated friendship.
  • I’ve known for years that this was only ever going to go one way.
  • I’ve known for years that I was always going to look the bad one.
  • I just didn’t realise how bad it would feel when it finally happened.

 

This song seems really relevant at the moment. But from which perspective? His or mine?

 

 

 

 

 

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