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

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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!

How University kicked my ass (and other things)

It feels like forever since I last thought about notjustdepression.com, and I’m really pleased to say that I DON’T feel guilty about it.

The decision to go back to university was not an easy one, and it really hasn’t been easy. Lately, a lot of people have been reminding me that I didn’t exactly pick the ‘easiest’ subject to work toward a degree in, but I’m definitely not regretting or second guessing my decision. Law has been fascinating. This year my modules are Legal Systems and Skills, Constitutional & Administrative Law, Contract Law and Tort Law.

It’s a pretty good feeling to be able to say in full confidence that I’m actually interested by all the topics (although there are days when some of the stuff feels like I’m being taught how to suck eggs. Here’s looking at all the lectures about being an ‘adult’.) My friends have been inundated with facts and interesting cases and the occasional (frequent) frustrating reminder about whatever thing I’ve learnt that week.

Coping with University Life has NOT been easy though. I never thought it would be, and I knew that there would come a point when things fell apart and they did, but you know what? I got through it!

About four weeks ago I started coming down with something. At first, I really had no idea. I knew that I was drained. My mental health took a rapid dive and I started struggling to get out of bed (even on days when I’d slept for HOURS and didn’t have lectures until later in the day). I realised about two days later that it probably had something to do with the cough I developed, the cough which evolved into a cold which made me feel gross, and achy and tired and uninterested. It took a lot of effort to come out of the other side, and with two deadlines on the horizon I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope, actually.

So, I thought about it rationally. Yes, it was important to attend all my lectures and seminars and get the work done for them – but if there was a toss up between seminar work and ASSIGNMENT work, there was a clear winner to be noticed here. Although I’m not proud of the (almost) two weeks that I spent either procrastinating or playing Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 – I am proud of the fact that I managed to suck it all up, take a deep breath, prioritise and get my assignments handed in ON TIME.

Right now, as of this minute, right here where I’m sat I feel good. Yes, that’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that I now have FOUR WEEKS of freedom, but I feel ready to tackle the problems I faced in my first term head on. This was always going to be a new experience, and a difficult one – but it was important right from the start to make sure that I appreciated that. There’s a big difference between knowing that things will be hard, and making allowances TO YOURSELF for that. I’m glad that I was able to be kind to me, and I’m grateful for the awesome people around me for helping with that.

I had friends (and my Dad!) on the other end of the phone to remind me that I can do this. Thank you to the friends who had to listen to me rant about the work load without reminding me that ‘Duh, you’re doing a Law degree, what did you expect?’ Frankly, I was telling myself that a lot anyway. I recognise that I have an awesome support network around me. (So thank you!!!)

This term has taught me a lot of things, and I know that there’s plenty more I need to work on for myself to be able to make the next 5 terms easier, and get the best out of myself and this degree. I’ve already made a pact with the Wellbeing Centre that I will drop in on them more often – and I hope that by doing that it might help me overcome this notion I have that other people need ‘the time/the help/the support’ more than I do.

 

Yes I have a cashflow problem!

After taking a look through some of the debate videos Facebook had to offer us the other day, I came across an incredibly interesting comment made by Dominic Raab.

He suggested that people who used Food Banks might have a ‘cashflow’ problem.

Obviously, there was a lot of outrage, and I could have gone on about it on my Facebook page but I decided that seeing as I’m fortunate enough to live with a friend who charges me far less rent than she should do I am not one of those people living on the poverty line.

I DID just want to take a minute to point out that Yes. Yes we DO have a cashflow problem. You want to see the maths? Okay.

Trying to work out the costings for an ‘average’ person isn’t easy, but for arguments sake I’ve gone to Right Move, found the cheapest currently available ROOM in a house share.

So we’re looking at £217 per month. Great! Well, that’s cheap! It’s bills included too, so there’s no need to worry about that. Will the council pay that much? Let’s see. £217 for twelve months divided by 52. That’s £50 a week, and thankfully, the local government are definitely going to give you that much to cover it.

So, that’s it right?

Ah, not quite. Let’s take another look at the fees listed here…

Fees.png

Hold on, hold on. What am I reading here?

Single occupancy from £85 per week

So actually you’re going to charge me £85 because I don’t have someone to share with? Here’s the sad news, guys. Suddenly we’re going to have an issue with the housing benefit, aren’t we?

What’s the Local Housing Allowance in Lincoln anyway?

LHA.png

Oh.

Well, I suppose – when you include the fact that the bills are all included I suppose I probably would have to use some of the benefits I get from Job Seeker’s Allowance toward the rent!

Job Seekers get £79.10 a week, so I now have £53 to live on for the week.

I mean, that is of course assuming that I already LIVE in this house share, because if I don’t, I really don’t fancy those fees. Well. Recurring fees. Renewal of tenancy? Is this a 6 month or a 12 month contract? Does it roll? Let’s say for the sake of this post that I have a 12 month contract – I need to keep back £5 a week to be able to afford the £60 Renewal Fee.

So now I have £48 a week to live on.

Okay, but I also have a pet. Why do I have a pet? Well, to be honest I sometimes feel like I need him. There are plenty of studies that suggest that pets are great for people with mental health related problems and I know he’s been amazing for me so I’m factoring this in too.

Figaro is insured. Of course he is! What kind of irresponsible pet owner would I be if I didn’t ensure that I had something to fall back on in case he got really sick? He’s not just my pet – he’s a member of my family. It’s me & Fig now. Anyway, okay – how much are you paying for that, Ollie dearest? £10.39 a month? Well, it’s only £2.39 a week.

Yeah, but he’s also got Pet Plan. You know. I can’t really afford the cost of vaccinations and medications and health checks. That’s £14.50 a month. It’s only £3.34 a week. No big deal!!

Okay, but what does he eat? Well, he is rather partial to wet food – so I try, when I can, to but Felix when it’s on offer. Usually… I can get 44 packs for about £10. He has one pack a day, which is 22p, times by 7 is £1.54 but he also has dry food! Which is a little more expensive because the little bugger is a rescue he likes Royal Canin, but I can get it pretty cheap online and it lasts 130. So, I’ll buy a bag of 10kg which is £44.19 and it lasts 130 days which averages out at about 33p a day. Another £2.31 a week.

The cat costs me just under a tenner a week. £9.58 if we’re going to be picky.

Which means that I now have £38.42 left.

At the moment, I’m volunteering three times a week at a local community centre. Generally, I get a lift into town once a week, but other than that I get the bus twice a week. A single into town is £2.30, which means I spend £4.60 on bus fares. No, I don’t get the bus back I WALK. Miracle of miracles.

£33.82

I also pay £10 a month to the peer support group I go to.

£31.50

Yeah, I could probably live on that much. As long as I never eat take away, never want new clothes, shoes, books, dvds, or general entertainment. As long as my friends don’t mind me not buying them cards or presents for any occasion – at least I have an excuse if I forget!

Did I mention that this is as long as I’m already living in that shared house? Otherwise I have to find £400 from somewhere.