Corridors

You are familiar with this corridor.

You have been walking through it, past so many doors for all of your life.

There is a familiar route that you have been taking for a while now. It isn’t particularly easy to traverse but you have become so used to navigating the obstacles along this path that it has become comfortable.

There is a door at the end of this corridor. It is the same size as all the other doors, but this one is made of a heavy, rich wood that has been perfectly crafted, sanded, and set against its frame. You don’t need to touch it to see how smooth the surface is, but you do – because this is the door.

There’s a particular trick to the handle, a knack to wiggling it in just the right way so that it turns. If your hand isn’t in the right position you know you’re going to have to get a better grip and start the process all over again. Even when you feel the catch slip free you have to prepare yourself for the weight of that door.

You pull the handle, certain and steady until a slither of light begins to filter through the gap. The strain on your wrist feels like a string tied all the way from the tips of your fingers, through the middle of your arm and all the way up into your brain is being pulled. You pull, and you pull, because there is no other way to go but here – this is the right path. This is the path you have chosen and it is not like the others.

The handle feels like it might break off under the weight of the door you’re so desperate to open. Is the handle not fit for the door or is it something about this pathway that is wrong? There is no other way along this road and you know that because you’ve opened so many doors on this journey, you have seen so many, and have been through countless others but you haven’t seen this one before.

You steady your feet, you ground yourself, you grip the wrist holding the handle with your free hand and you lean back. The door opens. At first, at the same agonisingly slow pace, so that the light from the other side grows steadily until there’s enough room to put your foot between the door and the frame but just as you go to rebalance your weight the door swings open.

The shock, and the surprise you feel at how suddenly the door opens to you is enough to force you back a few steps and as the door opens fully you have expect that it will close again. You hear the gentle knock of the handle against solid wall and it stops as if held in place.

Something tells you that this door will remain open for some time, but you’re hesitant to step through. It took so long to get here, so much effort and energy to open this single door and now that it is open you wonder whether it is the door you wanted to open after all. Tentative steps carry you back to the doorframe, you don’t want to step over it just yet – just in case you change your mind. There are other doors that are open to you, other corridors you could have gone down besides this one, corridors you can still go down. This one called out to you because it was different, but that makes you worry. If this door was different, will all the others along this path be different too?

You notice that the frame of the door is exactly the same as all the others that have come before this one. This isn’t the first one you’ve taken time to study, you hope it won’t be the last but sometimes you’ve been going so fast the frame of the door never seemed important to you but you know at the heart of it that they are all the same.

A light ‘click’ echoes around the corridor behind you and before you have the chance to think, or speak, or do anything about it – the door swings closed from behind you. That familiar weight is there again, this time pressed against your back and there is no way to go but forward. You don’t push back, there’s no time to react and instead you take one, two, three steps into this new unknown.

As you were stood surveying the door frame you thought, like all the other corridors hidden behind each one of these doors that this one was just the same as all the others – but the light is blinding. It is so bright that you cannot see the walls, there is no clear path ahead of you, and even the door that you came through seems to fade into nothingness.

You close your eyes. At least here you can pretend that the things you see are not the things which surround you. You can conjure up all kinds of doors and corridors here, force yourself to believe that what you see is what will be there when you open your eyes. You can even make up little obstacles and challenges along the way, trick yourself into believing that this must be real because it’s just as complicated and difficult as it has always been. There is nothing new, or scary, frightening or unknown about this new pathway because you can see it.

Opening your eyes becomes your biggest fear. You can tell that it is still bright from the red behind your eyelids. If the light never goes away then how will you ever move from beyond this spot? You cannot stay here forever.

Can you?

You ask yourself again, whether you could stay here. With your eyes closed you can see whatever you want to see. You take a deep breath, and think about all the things that make you happy. You feel the corner of your mouth move as the muscles in your face tighten. That’s a thought that make you smile. You think about it again, and suddenly you are thinking about so many things, all at once and all at the same time – the smile on your face is huge now, you haven’t smiled like this for a long time it’s all too much and then…

You open your eyes.

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Studying Law in the UK

So it’s September and we’re at the start of a new Academic year. I feel a like I have a slight head start for reasons that I won’t go too deeply into but basically this is the second time I’ve started my first year.

I like to think of myself as an organised person, and I love to get a plan straight in my head however I can to ease some of the stress that comes with any kind of studying.

On top of that, a few friends of mine who are also on the course with me were feeling stressed about how to manage the workload so I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of the ideas I’ve implemented that seem to be working for me.

First of all, I took some time to arrange a space to work!

new desk

I’m a bit of a nerd, my desk used to be in the living room, with my PC rigged up to it – but I found that it was just too distracting. I’d sit down and start playing video games, or start working on new projects, figure out whose birthday it was next – anything but study!

So I moved my desk into my bedroom and took only what I needed to study. During the holidays I took time to reformat my MacBook, to minimise distractions as so that it could function as a ‘University’ laptop.

books

I love books, and can get so carried away buying things that interest me, so I made sure to keep it to the bare minimum. I’m aware that I have far more books than I actually need. This is partly because I started the course last year and some of this years texts are different – but also because someone was selling a batch of previous editions last year that I decided to get as an extra reference tool. Sometimes it’s helpful to look in another book because authors have different styles of writing.

I also brought along only the essentials. A pot full of pens, my hole punch and a stapler!

Because I’m obsessed with keeping things organised I decided very early on that I needed a colour scheme. By associating a module with a colour I found that I could better differentiate between the modules. (Although now I am slightly worried that I’m going to be very confused when I go into my second year, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there – also, if anyone knows of a place where I can buy lever-arch folders in different colours than these I would love to hear from you!)

reading checklist

Anyone who is starting, or has done a Law degree will know there is a LOT of reading to be done. A lot. It can be incredibly overwhelming to look through your handbooks and see just how many cases, journals and text books are on the list that week but it really is best to NOT PANIC. Panicking leads to stress, stress leads to headaches, headaches lead to time off studying, time off studying leads to hate, hate leads to the dar– (shut up, Ollie.)

I’m sure you get my point. I decided to try and combat my fear of such huge reading lists by writing down what I had to read. As I’m compiling this list I’ll make sure that I have access to each journal, textbook etc.

(This is when I realised that organising yourself digitally is important too.)

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 18.54.04

That’s a folder for each module,

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 18.54.28

Folders for different purposes (and copies of each handbook in there too! Very handy.)

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 18.54.44

Then as I collected together different sources for reading I made sure to label them with a number corresponding to the Seminar that the reading is required for.

Now I can access the reading ANYWHERE. On my phone, my tablet, laptop, computer, at home or at uni. No excuses not to be reading something!

As a very visual learner, and something of a completionist – I came up with a way of representing the work I had to do using *marbles*. Genius, right? At the beginning of each week I count up how much reading there is to do, and make sure to include the Seminar preparation required as a ‘task’ too – and then put that many marbles in one glass.

It’s strange how satisfying it is to be able to move a marble from one glass to another, and I know it’s simple, and a bit weird – but there you go. I even get to tick that I’ve done tasks in my book of tasks and it just helps to manage my own expectations and encourage me to keep on going.

highlighting

The reading itself can be pretty full on, and I know that you can spent hours and hours reading about the most effective ways to read for study. If I had more time (and the inclination) I would love to be able to read things at least twice, but we don’t really get the time for that.

Instead, I came up with a way of using my stationery as optimally as possible. Since I’ve started Law I’ve come across a lot of terms and expressions that I refuse to be embarrassed to say I don’t understand. I make a point of highlighting them, then checking the meaning of the word (because it’s so important to understand what was being said). I also highlight key passages, usually ones where a specific point or idea is being made or argued as well as any key statutes or cases that have been mentioned.

There’s nothing worse than knowing you read about a case or a statute in an article and having to trawl through it because it doesn’t jump out at you.

further reading

Finally, the most recent and most ambitious thing that I do is to write down any further reading that I think I could benefit from looking at or reading – or just being aware of. Again, there is already SO MUCH READING in this degree that I am not prepared to make myself feel that I need to read everything that someone suggests, but I do know from previous experience that reading around a topic is incredibly valuable.

You’ll notice I’ve written my list on blue paper – that’s because Contract is BLUE! I wanted to have a log of other things I might take time to look into. Some of these look more interesting than others, some I have a feeling will come up in later lectures and seminars but you get the main point.

If you’ve read this far, thank you – and I hope that I haven’t frightened you off studying Law. There are a lot of books out there with a lot of tips and tricks to help you manage the work load, as well as going into the reasons why you might choose law as a degree. Everyone studies in different ways, and I hope that maybe reading this post has helped! (Even if it’s only a little.)

If you have any of your own tips and tricks please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

~Ollie. x

SHOPMIUM – UK SHOPPERS

Yes I know – here I go again telling you about some great money saving app that I use but seriously – this one is kind of awesome.

It’s called Shopmium, and they have various offers on food/drinks in store.

When I signed up I got a free bar of chocolate. I bought the chocolate in the Co-Op, paid for it, then scanned my receipt and the item itself.

By that evening the money I’d paid for it was in my Paypal account.

They have quite a few ‘free’ things, and other offers too – on things you might be buying anyway.

At the moment they have an offer to try a new meat-free range from Sainsbury’s called Garden Gourmet. You can basically try it for free.

The name of the app is Shopmium, you can get in the App Store for iPhones and GooglePlay store for android.

I just want to pass it on, but if you would like to REWARD ME for recommending you, my referral code is: 329f9

ANY QUESTIONS. Just ask me. =D

Into The Breach

Hi everyone!

Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at streaming via Twitch. It has been a LOT of fun, and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with a few people who I might not have had the chance to talk with if I’d decided not to go ahead and play videos for others like this.

If you’ve played the equally awesome game Faster Than Light, this is probably going to be another one of those that you enjoy. As someone from the future you work with pilots and their mech to rid the world of Vek which are invading in the hopes of breeding until they eliminate all human life by stomping on the high rise flats all of humanity seems to have congregated into.

As someone who also enjoys tracking achievements, and having something very visual to looking at whilst doing so I wrote out a list of all the achievements… Nothing new there for me, however – I really wanted to share my progress, with some other information!

Where better to publicise that information than my very own WEBSITE! Yay.

So here it is. My list of completed achievements, the order that I achieve them in, and the date on which they were accomplished!

Victory [Date: 14th May Achievement: 15]
Win a game (of any length).

Best of the Best   [Date: 20th May Achievement: 21]
Get 3 pilots with the highest experience level.

Overpowered   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Overload your Energy grid two times while leading Rusting Hulks.

Perfect Battle   [Date: 16th May Achievement: 16]
Avoid any damage received (by your units or civilian buildings) while leading Rusting Hulks.

Ramming Speed   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Kill an opponent separated by 5 or more squares using Dash Punch while leading Rift Walkers.

The Defenders    [Date: 8th May Achievement: 8]
Complete an island without letting a building get damaged.

Chain Attack    [Date: 1st May Achievement: 5]
Use Chain Whip to engage 10 squares at once while leading Blitzkrieg.

Sustainable Energy   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 11]
Complete three islands without letting the energy grid bar go down below 4.

Friend in High Places   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 10]
Spend 50 reputation points in all games.

Emerging Technologies   [Date: 30th April Achievement: 4]
Unlock a new mech unit.

Field Promotion   [Date: 29th April Achievement: 1]
Have a pilot with the highest experience level.

Perfect Island   [Date:  1st May Achievement: 6 ]
Complete all secondary missions on a single island.

Island Secure   [Date: 29th April Achievement: 2 ]
Complete the first island while leading Rift Walkers.

Watery Grave   [Date: 30th April  Achievement: 3]
Drown three enemies in a single battle while leading Rift Walkers.

Unbreakable   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Absorb 5 damage in a single battle while leading Steel Judoka.

Unwitting Allies   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Kill 4 enemies through fire while leading Steel Judoka.

Mass Displacement   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Push out 3 opponents with a single attack while leading Steel Judoka.

Mech Specialist   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game with three same mechs while leading Custom.

Class Specialist   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game with three different mechs of the same class while leading Custom.

Flight Specialist   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game with three flying mechs while leading Custom.

Lightning War   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the first two islands in a period of time shorter than 30 minutes while leading Blitzkrieg.

Hold the Line   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Block 4 incoming Vek in a single turn while leading Blitzkrieg.

Healing   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Heal 10 health points in a single battle while leading Hazardous Mechs.

Immortal   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete 4 islands without losing a single mech while leading Hazardous Mechs.

Overkill   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Deal 8 damage with a single attack while leading Hazardous Mechs.

Engineering Dropout   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 12]
Complete 3 islands without upgrading your weapons.

Trusted Equipment   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete 3 islands without adding new pilots and weapons.

There is No Try   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete 3 islands with completing all secondary objectives.

Chronophobia   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 13]
Complete 3 islands with destructing all Time Pods.

Untouchable   [Date: 20th May  Achievement: 19]
Complete an island without taking any damage (repairs do not count).

Backup Batteries   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 9]
Get or buy 10 Grid Power on a single island.

Good Samaritan   [Date: 20th May Achievement: 20]
Get 9 reputation points on a single island.

Immovable Objects   [Date: 20th May Achievement: 17]
Block 100 Vek throughout the course of the game.

Perfect Strategy   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Get 10 Perfect Island throughout the course of the game.

Humanity’s Savior   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Save 100 000 civilians throughout the course of the game.

Distant Friends   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Encounter a friendly pilot.

I’m getting too old for this   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Have a pilot who has taken part in the last battle three times.

Come Together   [Date: 14th May Achievement: 14]
Unlock 6 additional pilots.

Complete Victory   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game with all 10 mech units (any duration).

Squads Victory   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game with 4 different mech units (any duration).

Hard Victory   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete the game on Hard (any duration).

Adaptable Victory   [Date: 20th May  Achievement: 22 ]
Complete the game once on any length (2,3,4 islands).

Get Over Here   [Date: 8th May Achievement: 7 ]
Kill an opponent by pulling him to your unit while leading Zenith Guard.

Glittering C-Beam   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Kill four opponents with a single laser while leading Zenith Guard.

Shielded   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Block incoming attacks with a shield four times during a single battle while leading Zenith Guard.

Cryo Expert   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Fire the Cryo-Launcher four Times during a single battle while leading Frozen Titans.

Mirror Shot   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Kill three enemies with a single Trick Shot while leading Frozen Titans.

Pacifist   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Kill less than 3 opponents during a single battle while leading Frozen Titans.

Loot Boxes!   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Open 5 Time Pods in a single game while leading Random.

Lucky Start   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete a game without spending reputation points while leading Random.

Change the Odds   [Date: 20th May Achievement: 18]
Raise Grid Defense to 30% while leading Random.

Stormy Weather   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Deal 12 damage using Electric Smoke during a single battle while leading Rusting Hulks.

Quantum Entanglement   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Teleport a unit to a location that is 4 squares away from your current location while leading Flame Behemoth.

Scorched Earth   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Complete a battle by setting 12 squares on fire while leading Flame Behemoth.

This is Fine   [Date:  Achievement: ]
Have five burning enemies while leading Flame Behemoth.

 

If you’d like to watch me, I ‘usually’ stream on a Monday, Tuesday, Friday & Sunday night with a few exceptions.

You can join me at www.twitch.tv/potatosium

Relaxing

I lost my step-father at the end of January. As soon as I found out about it, I knew that I needed to visit my Mum. That was the easy part of course.

Over the last two months, my Mum & I have been trying to sort through so much of their life together. It hasn’t been easy to say the least. It has been stressful, tiring, wearing, exhausting and mentally draining.

University needed to be placed on ‘pause’ and I had to depend on the support of friends back home to make sure things kept running smoothly whilst I was away.

However, I have been incredibly fortunate to have friends on this side of the world that offered to let me stay with them for about 2 weeks before returning home. The whole idea is that I let myself have a ‘holiday’ from what I’ve left behind so that I can prepare myself for the recovery that needs to take place once I get back into the UK.

The purpose of relaxing is not lost on me, but I actually think this is first time that I’ve been consciously aware of the fact that I am actually capable of it. Even after I started to ‘chill out’ I started to question what I was actually doing with my time. There was a sense that I ‘should’ be doing ‘something’, although it’s pretty clear that there’s nothing I can do from here that will fix anything that needs to be done once I get back to England.

So, I’ve been attempting to really relax, and it’s been liberating and also a little telling. There are still a lot of ‘thoughts’, I worry about this that and the other, what impact my actions and words have on the other people around me and what I’m thinking and feeling and most importantly why? In the end however, I did concede and ended up purchasing myself a Bullet Journal so that I could take some more control of my life. Perhaps it’s a step backwards, but I can say that since I bought it, and started using it to log my much smaller day-to-day chores and events I feel much better about the whole thing.

Being able to look back and see what I’ve done is useful, and to give myself smaller goals that will help settle the uneasy feeling in my head has actually worked! It’s simple stuff too, less planning months and months in advance and more accepting each day as it comes. I’ve set myself little goals, ‘have a shower first thing’ or ‘put laundry away’ or ‘mail postcards’. It’s definitely easy to forget that these seemingly ‘simple’ things were at one point or another really difficult to accomplish – but just ordering my life some how has given me a greater sense of purpose.

Weird, honestly – because I was already doing those things, but it felt increasingly like I had to open myself up to a new project or plan some huge ‘game plan’ for the future.

The truth is that I have decided on a few avenues to follow once I get back home, and there are definitely jobs that I will need to ‘get done’ when I get there. Not that I’ve written them down! I have a feeling that will happen on my return to England on the plane, maybe? It’s a long, overnight flight – but there will definitely be time to take some notes and make a few lists.

Mostly, I’m just glad that I’ve been able to take a deep breath and just ‘be’. It hasn’t been easy, and I still struggle to ignore that nagging doubt and the constant questioning but it’s all practice isn’t it?

[ONE]

frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. 

I have a very vivid memory from only a few years ago which feels like a very good way to describe how jarring and immediate these feelings can be. A very good friend of mine was due to turn up at my home, this person had been there for me, and seen me in one of my darkest moments only recently. For the very first time in my life – I had let someone in. I let them in, and it was scary and so new and very unlike anything I’d done before. I dissociated like crazy the whole time, but as I came out of the other end of this ‘moment’ I realised how much better I felt having gone through a wave of personal torment with someone else at my side – perhaps in particular, this person.

Their arrival at my home was nothing new, and nothing out of the ordinary. We had plans as a group of friends – and I had spent much of the morning preparing myself mentally and physically for the rest of the day.

I remember hearing the knock at the door, I remember bouncing out of my room – and I remember wanting to stop as I was half-way down the stairs. Suddenly I was hit with the sense that I did not want to greet my friend. I remember opening the door, but I don’t remember clearly the way I greeted them, beside the fact that I was cold. I was unable to hug them meaningfully, unable to engage fully in conversation and I recall leaving them on their own in the living room until other people showed up to be hospitable.

The intense disinterest and frustration I found in so many moments I shared with that person was consistent over several months, and until I was diagnosed it was a mystery to me ‘what happened’. At the time, I could not correlate the meaningful support I had been given with the twisted way that I began to respond to them. Even then I spent a lot of time trying to ‘work myself out’ and this was a particularly difficult situation to think myself a way ‘out of’ without coming to the conclusion that actually, honestly, I was not the person I believed I was. I was cruel, and hateful, and quite frankly a bitch. Honestly, I think this made my behaviour toward that person worse, because being with them brought out this evil side of me that I was not prepared or happy to face. It couldn’t be true, and I had no crutch against that belief.

Two of the most difficult relationships because of this symptom are the ones that I now value the most. Our parents are sent to try us, and we to test them – I think. There are a million quotes about parenting, and for a long time I felt like I was going through a ‘typical’ teenage phase of hating my parents. Except for the fact that it never seemed to end. 

Trusting that the two people who brought me into the world would ‘want’ me has always been a ridiculous notion to grasp and to have acceptance of. For every parent who is there for their child come rain or shine, there is a parent who chooses to put their own needs first – for whatever reason. I knew that logically there was nothing stopping either one of my parents from disowning me, and over the many years with this disorder I know I have tried, time and time again to push those boundaries and find out whether they might break under the pressure.

Keeping anyone at arm’s length is an easy way to avoid what is essentially rejection. If I do not show excitement at the prospect of something, I cannot feel dismay when that thing never materialises. For me, it was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. There were many times when my apparent disinterest in an activity or event communicated the idea that I did not want to go, and it would always be a double-edged sword for my Dad when it happened. Either I would realise after the event that I had not been invited to participate because of my ‘disinterest’, and be fuming with him, or he would simply choose not to do said—thing, and I would equally be in a state about it.

People talk about ‘Quiet Borderlines’ as those who internalise their anger. These things moments would become ‘moments’ that I would take in and absorb as something I had done to myself and therefore something that I had personally done to whoever it was I’d ‘wronged’. In the case of my Dad, it was my fault for showing disinterest and not only had I upset myself in the process, but I had ultimately upset him too. On reflection ‘upset’ is probably a very loose term, because the agony I forced myself to feel on his behalf was often comparable to a situation in which I had changed his life forever – not something simple as was the reality, like having missed out on the opportunity to spend time with him on the golf course, or by going out for something to eat, or spend time with family.

In all the vague memories I have, when opportunities have arisen to spend time with family or friends I know that there hasn’t been a single time when I had been angrily opposed to the notion. On reflection, I honestly believe that I wanted to participate fully in every opportunity – but I just didn’t have the strength to invest my feelings in it. I didn’t have the strength to deal with the uncertainty of what might, or might not happen. I have always had a volatile sense of self, and outbursts of anger when that ‘self’ I might have been sure of in whatever moment was thrown into question were hiding around every corner – especially so with family. In the end, the risk of hurting them and as a result hurting myself in the process was too great, and it was much better to safely reject them before any ‘real’ damage could be done.

It’s these decision that create a kind of spiral of self-doubt and continued efforts to avoid potential rejection or abandonment. As with so many spirals – once you’re on the helter skelter it’s pretty difficult to get off it again.

The things I have written about are typical of a ‘me’ that was unaware of an underlying disorder – and as always, I feel like it’s important to take some time to reflect on the impact of knowing what you’re up against, and how you can take steps to reduce the control these thoughts have on you.

Some people think that behaviours which you have had for a very long time, which feel ingrained or a part of you are impossible to change. I believe very strongly that there is very little about a person which cannot change given the right circumstances.

Like everyone else on the planet, I am constantly able to learn. I learn from my relationships, and reading, and occasionally from random conversations with complete strangers. I also like to challenge myself, at least emotionally and mentally – and perhaps that’s a part of my personal relationship with my ‘self’, but I constantly strive to be a better ‘me’ who understands things with more clarity.

It takes effort to let people in. Allowing someone to see a part of you that you fear will turn them away from you, or leave you vulnerable to being hurt isn’t easy for anyone. I know that recently I’ve adopted a kind of belief that if I have nothing to hide, then it is the fault of whoever chooses not to like a part of me if they disagree with that part of me. Equally, I am learning to agree to disagree. I am accepting that I can just be ‘me’, and I am finding out who ‘me’ actually is every day.

It is important to be cautious, and to be aware of the people who may or may not be befriending, and equally it seems important to let people in and allow them to see who you are for you. Trying to work out what kind of distance you’re supposed to keep people is the hard part. I have come to accept what kind of person I am when it comes to people though, and it’s a slow process – but I’m learning to love who I am, accept who I am, and become better IF I NEED TO.

Asking for Help

Recently someone opened up to me about their mental health difficulties after reading through some of my blog, and I found myself talking about being able to ask people for help.

I distinctly recall a time when ‘asking for help’ felt like an impossible feat. Suffering from the most crushing depressive moods was obviously unpleasant. It would always start quite simply, a wayward thought about something someone had said to me, or something I’d said – some kind of injustice that I felt helpless to correct; and from there on it felt a lot like I was on a downward slope.

It was best described as a spiral, starting with a single point that spun wildly out of control within minutes. Right now it’s difficult to reflect on what those initial thoughts were, or at least it would be impossible for me to sit here and tell you exactly what any one trigger was – but at the time I had no idea that there was anything anyone could do to help me. Help was never going to fix the things that I had done wrong, and ‘help’ was never going to stop me thinking about those things. There was nothing anyone could do to erase the thoughts and feelings and memories – why should they, and why would I want them to? All the mistakes we make, or think we’ve made build us as people and I do believe quite strongly that it’s these things that build resilience and strength, although I definitely recognise now that the things I once thought were never really true.

These ‘incidents’ happened with increasing frequency until one day I opened up to a friend about them. No, it wasn’t the sudden miracle cure I’d been looking for, and it wasn’t the start of some unique healing process that would happen on its own but I made the decision there and then to try to tell that friend – the next time I experienced these spiralling thoughts.

Yes, I can remember the night. No, I have no idea when it was – but I do know that I called my friend, in floods of tears and asked her very simply if she could ‘come and get me’. I know that I’m very privileged to have friends that are able to do just that, and if I’m honest I tried hard to ask her in a very calm tone whether or not she was busy before imposing myself.

My friend had a few lovely words to say, and then she was in her car on the way to pick me up.

Instantly, I felt relief. At the time, I believe there were probably too many overwhelming feelings to really work out how I felt about the whole thing other than the obvious fact that I was no longer in that spiral. Maybe just sharing my problem was enough, maybe knowing that I had friends who cared this deeply about me was enough to quell the disturbing and incorrect assumptions I’d been making about myself. Either way, it was the first time I reached out to someone when I thought I never could – but it definitely wasn’t the last.

There is a huge difference between the person who called her friend that night, and the person that I am today. Back then I didn’t know that I have a personality disorder, and I definitely didn’t know how to cope with those debilitating beliefs that felt so real. I had no idea that I could feel something so strongly, and believe it so firmly – and accept at the very same time that it was not true. How many times had I convinced myself that people who loved me actually didn’t?

I’m rambling again (when don’t I?).

It’s only really been in the last day or so since talking to someone about being able to ‘reach out for help’ that I’ve begun to think about the meaning of the phrase. It’s not about asking someone else to take away your pain, or expecting them to have an answer to all your problems, and I assure you it is certainly not about attention seeking!

Asking for help is about knowing that you are not alone. It is about breaking whatever cycle you fall into. It is definitely not easy, but we all know that nothing worth doing IS.

These days I have learned to recognise those ‘trigger thoughts’ when they rear their ugly heads, and most of the time I can dismiss them. If that doesn’t work, I know there are several people who are only a phone call, e-mail, text message or IM away who will make me feel better again. I tend to pose the issue to people differently, depending on who they are – but I know I only have to say the words ‘I’m really struggling today’, and it’s enough to put a stop to the thoughts.

Please remember, if you feel like you can’t talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling there are support services out there, run by people who want to help. In the UK you can contact the Samaritans at any time of the day by phone or email for free.

 

Taking pride!

Something I’ve found very difficult for as long as I can remember is taking pride in myself, and the things I can do.

This last fortnight has been a bit of a test, to be quite honest – but I think that I’ve done a good job of getting on with the workload. Mostly, I just wanted to share some pictures of the almost-end product.

bedroom - 1

This is what the bedroom looked like when I first signed for the flat. It looked like there would be a lot of work involved and admittedly a lot of ‘person’ hours have been put into making it look better. The walls have been sanded, the skirting board and windowsill have been sanded. The curtain poles have been purchased and stuck up, the radiator has been cleaned and brushed. The walls, skirting, and pipes have been painted!

Right now, it looks like this:

bedroom - 2

There’s still quite a bit of work to be done. I’d like to CHOP or hide the wires in that corner there, and some parts of the wall could do with a touch up after some mishaps with the gloss. The carpet will be fitted on Tuesday, and then in a week I’m hoping to ship some furniture into the room. Then the finishing touch SHOULD just be a lampshade!

I’m really excited about the whole flat as a project. It’s exciting to have something to work on, but it’s a little daunting to think that I’ll have to deal with a bit of chaos for a while. I definitely thrive best when things are ‘just so’, but I’m also well aware that it’s going to be a while before things feel like they’re in the right place – but it’s also really exciting because I know I can do whatever I want with the place!

2018 is gonna start soon, and it’s going to be awesome. =D

 

 

It’s Christmas!

Here it is, obligatory ‘Happy Christmas’ post from me to you.

It’s currently ALMOST 1am, and I’m sat listening to Christmas songs whilst April puts the last finishing touches to Lilly-Mae’s doll house.

I love being surrounded by the kinds of people that don’t mind doing things for other, people who trust each other and don’t mind accepting help. Hannah’s worked so hard this year to get everything ‘just right’ and I think it’s important to remember that we all have people who can be there for us whether we like it or not and whether we find it easy to accept that help or not. It’s a lesson I think we all have to learn sometimes – and I do wonder if there generally two different types of people, those who struggle to accept help and people who expect it.

ANYWAY. I digress. As I so often do.

This was supposed to be an opportunity to reflect on the last year – as so many people do this time of year.

It’s not been a terribly easy year, but not for the usual reasons. Generally speaking I’ve felt much calmer about most things. ‘Stuff’ doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, whether that’s because of the medication or because I’ve had a change in the way I look at life I don’t know (and it’s likely I’ll never know!) but it’s nice to recognise a difference in myself so clearly.

Families for a lot of people are a complicated thing, but I tend to find that mine is quite simple. My Granny has two sisters, and we have this tradition of visiting them in the run up to Christmas. This year we’ve had a lot more to talk about than usual, which is nice – between university, getting a flat, and my Dad’s new job there’s plenty of good news for everyone. There was a point when I felt that my Dad didn’t want me to keep talking anymore, sometimes I’m not sure what people want to hear or whether they want to listen when I talk about my mental health – but all I know is that I’m pretty much open and honest about all aspects of it. It’s a common theme through most of this year, actually. I couldn’t say how many people have mentioned the fact that I’m open about having Borderline, and equally how many people have said things like ‘Well you don’t act at all like you have a— you know‘ as if somehow I need to be acting a certain way all the time.

Perhaps it all comes back to this idea that one person can make a difference. If I can make one person see people with personality disorders in a different way then I’ve done something that will benefit someone else somewhere along the line.

2018 is definitely going to be an exciting one! That’s for sure. There’s a lot of work to do between now and the middle of January. I’m still trying to work out quite how I balance uni work and painting but it looks like this Wednesday is going to be a fun one. I’m just generally looking forward to things again. Life is good. ^^;

Be good to yourselves, be kind to each other, forgive, take a moment to swallow your own pride and have respect for the pride of others too. Be open, open minded, honest and reliable! If you make a commitment, try and stick to it. If you can’t do something, don’t promise to do it!

Much love.

~Ollie. x

Prioritising

It’s a word I struggle with, definitely not because I don’t understand the concept! I find it quite easy to make decisions about what should come first and which is more important – but there are times when it feels that there’s something else that’s supposed to be going on there.

Okay, so I’m mostly thinking about the situation that I’m in at the moment.

Last week, after my last seminar on Friday of that week I had made my decision! With FOUR WEEKS of freedom, I was going to manage a schedule of uni work, socialising and video games alongside the usual eating/sleeping routine that comes to easily to me.

So, on Tuesday when I got a call to say that there was a flat to go and look at, my priorities were suddenly shifted dramatically. I cannot describe to you the excitement I felt at being offered a flat. It’s something for a whole different post about independence and living on my own and having my own space and trying to work out which colours I want to grace the walls with – but for right now I have two very ‘important’ conflicting priorities.

Christmas of course went out the window. Suddenly my world is confined to painting and decorating. At first I knew that I needed to tackle the issue head on. There was only one thing I needed to do and that was DECORATE. I needed to clean, scrub, sand, paint, plan. What do I need? What do I have? What can I live without for a while? Where should I get this where can I get that? Quite frankly my thoughts have been chasing me in circles all week and I’m only just beginning to feel like I know what the correct approach is.

I just want to focus on how I’ve felt this week.

As soon as I found out that I could move in, it’s been my one goal. As if there is nothing else standing in my way. Everything I did from now until the flat was ready to move in had to be something which moved me closer toward that end goal. It’s a lot to take in, moving is such big business and when you move in to your own place for the first time LET ME TELL YOU IF YOU DON’T KNOW, it’s more than a little overwhelming. I forgot how daunting it can be to tackle everything all at once, I’ve managed the bills before now – and even managed them for a house of several peoples. That’s nothing new, but I think somewhere along the way I forgot about all this ‘adult’ business and suddenly it feels big and imposing.

I told myself that before university started again, I had to be living there with everything ‘just so’, and with at least enough time to get settled in and comfortable!

Honestly, I’m not sure when I realised that this was an unreasonable and frankly ridiculous goal. Today has offered me a break from ‘the flat’, although I did pop by with my Dad & co this afternoon, just so that they could see it first hand and perhaps knowing that they’re all very keen to chip in and lend a hand makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

Again, I forget my own advise as I realise that writing about the thing causing me such stress has helped to realign priorities and re-evaluate their weight.

Yes, it would be great to be able to move in over the next two weeks and have everything shiny and new and exciting but actually there are more important things going on here.

After my ‘tiny’ meltdown last term, it’s safe to say that if there’s a way to reduce the chances of that, I want to grasp at them. I started making a habit of writing down the weekly tasks that we’re given in a notebook and then putting a corresponding amount of marbles in a glass to denote each task so that there is a visual representation of the work load. It’s not that I’d forgotten about it – it just became less important to me when my only goal was GET THIS ASSIGNMENT WRITTEN, but a clean start is always a good thing in my opinion and getting that list written out has definitely helped me to reevaluate my current priorities as well as deciding to get a blog post done!

There is NO WAY that I would be able to temper the excitement I have about moving home, but I’m sincerely hoping that instead of focussing fully on preparing the flat, I can find a balance between these two REALLY important things and work out a way to evenly spread my time between the two things. It’s definitely not something I’m good at – and it’s difficult sometimes to know if that’s just a product of who I am, or it’s something that’s controlled by the black and white thinking that comes with having borderline.

A lot of people that I’ve talked to about time management and organisation try to help by offering advice about breaking up your time, setting yourself small goals and rewarding yourself when you meet them. It’s safe to say I have NEVER accomplished anything by doing that. Seriously, I wish it was easier to do an hours work and then reward myself with 15 minutes of gaming time (or something similar) but I much prefer to work at something until I can’t stand it any more and then wait until the next time I feel like working. Sometimes that can be half an hour later, or after I’ve made myself something to eat and cuddled the cat, sometimes it’s not until the next day.

We all work in different ways, and I’m starting to think that this is just another one of those barriers that I’m going to have to face and overcome. Finding balance between two things, and forfeiting my own desires is NOT easy. No one ever said that it was, of course, but I know that if I want to succeed, I’m going to have to start now.

In conclusion; write stuff down, write stuff down, and write stuff down. It helps!