Tag Archives: help

The Boy Scout Attitude

hqdefault

Hello dear reader, and welcome to…what day are we on now?  Thursday?  Friday?…oh.  Monday.  That’s a shame.  Anyway, how on earth are you?

Like most people, I love the idea of being prepared for stuff.  Wouldn’t it be great if we were the kind of people who always had a spare pen and a packet of tissues?  Wouldn’t it be brilliant to be able to reply “yes” whenever someone at work is pleading for painkillers? There are people out there who are reliable, dependable and always able to help.  (Writing that bit has made me realise that I’m basically describing my mum here, which is nice.)

These people seem to have all the answers, because they have thought of every possible outcome of their day before they left home.  To disorganised eejits like me, these people seem to have a prescient affinity with the universe that allows them to foresee and deflect crises. In reality, these people just have their heads screwed on properly, and they are prepared for life because they’ve learned from experience.  For instance, experience tells a British person to always, always, always take sunglasses and an umbrella, just in case.  If you are the kind of person who learns from situations and equips yourself for similar occasions accordingly, then you are a winner.

Sometimes we can’t help but be equipped a certain way, because of who we are and what we do.  For example, I am a writer, so odds are I’ll have loads of pens and at least one notebook on me.  One of my friends, who is a child minder, always has plasters and formula in her handbag.  A friend of mine who works with animals always has hand sanitiser and antihistamines with him.  Where we go and what we get up to dictates how prepared we are for daily life, and to a certain extent this is true of our personal lives, too.

Where you’ve been in life prepares you for emotional situations.  Just as the sensible girl takes a pair of flat shoes along on a night out because she knows that her stilettos will fail her, people who’ve had their hearts broken a few times tend to equip themselves with caution when entering a new relationship.  If you have been brought up to be emotionally expressive then you will be well-equipped to offer someone support and a hug when they are sad.  If you have ever embarrassed yourself on national television, you will be perfectly able to comfort your child if they mess up a line in their school play.  That’s a bit of an extreme example, but you know what I mean: what happens to us equips us.

We have to learn to be Boy Scouts about bad stuff that happens: think of each experience as a badge you’ve earned, which equips you to deal with similar situations next time, and to help other people going through the same thing.  Be prepared.

On that note, I’m off to buy some wellies for a camping trip this weekend.  Have a glorious Monday.

Crowded Carriages Are All in Your Head

Tube crowding

Good morning, you marvellous creature.  How’re you doing?

Today I would like you to imagine that your brain is a London Underground tube carriage.  What do you think it would be like?  Is it full of commuters?  Is there a school trip of fluorescently-clad children accompanied by one harassed teacher?  Maybe it’s the last train home, and a few sozzled friends are giggling manically in the corner.  For many of us, it will be the one with a homeless person wandering through asking for change, and a baby screaming at top volume.  In other words, our brains are crowded, noisy, awkward and confusing.

There are approximately 34 seats per tube carriage on London Underground trains, but you hardly ever see a train carriage that’s just neatly filled with 34 seated people, do you? In the same way, our thoughts and feelings do not sit neatly in our brains in a designated space; they run around and confuse us.  For example, the items on your mental to do list are like the school kids on a day trip, who run around and worry you in case one drops off.

Life is difficult , and worrying, and exciting.  It’s also going by very quickly.  Particularly in cities and especially for people who have busy lifestyles, it’s difficult to feel properly connected to one another.  (Like ships passing in the night, perhaps.  I have no idea where this transport obsession has come from, by the way.  I’ll be banging on about the “aeroplanes of ambition” next, I expect.)  It’s so irritating in its self-exacerbation: we get stressed out because we’re so busy and we have no time to see our friends and loved ones, and then we get more stressed out because we haven’t seen our friends or loved ones for ages, ad infibloodynitum.

It’s not easy to do, and for some people social stuff goes completely out of the window when the pressure’s on at work or what have you, but we have to keep connections with people during times of stress.  I’ve got a huge to do list on my desk (and I’m genuinely starting to think that it might be sentient), but I am aware that I’ll go loopy if I don’t talk to a good friend today.  Similarly, my friend Laura is studying all morning in the British Library, and her PhD will make her crazy if she doesn’t switch of from it for half an hour, so to solve both of our problems we are going to drink coffee together and have a chat.

Sounds like I’m encouraging procrastination, doesn’t it?  I’m honestly not.  I believe in working hard and doing something you’ve set out to do, but I also believe that burning out and cutting yourself off from people is an incredibly stupid and damaging thing to do.  Thinking that you are alone with your crowded carriage mind is silly, because everyone feels like that.  Also, when did you last see a train with six empty carriages and one full one?  Exactly.  Now go and ring someone who likes you.

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

What Do You Need?

660814-SUyCM6MTB87NjbaP

Good morning, lovely reader.  Can you believe it’s Wednesday already?  I know.  Where does the time go?

My flat mate and I get a lot of stick from our friends because apparently the northern end of the Piccadilly line doesn’t count as “really” living in London.  (It definitely does, by the way.  Zone 4 is still a zone.)  That having been said, we have a lot of house guests from all four corners of the capital city, and we both love having our friends round for cheese, diet coke and ridiculous conversations.

One of our friends came over yesterday for a rehearsal, and she ended up staying late into the evening, which was lovely.  When she left she sent us both a message thanking us for the day, and she said some very sweet things about how spending time with us makes her feel better about life in general.  As two very maternal girls of Irish descent who pride themselves on looking after people, this was the greatest compliment we could have received.

When someone needs a break from reality, a good laugh or just access to an excessive cheese board, they know to come to our flat.  I absolutely love that.  As a friend, the best feeling in the world is knowing that something about you is helpful to the people you love.

We all need different things from different people, and that’s fine.  It’s good to have a friend who is good at distracting you from your problems, a friend who is an excellent listener and a friend who will always be up for blowing off some steam.  It’s also totally fine to sometimes need a good cry, sometimes need a big night out and occasionally just need a massive rant with no input beyond a few sympathetic noises.

Different times call for different measures, and you are absolutely allowed to need people when life throws something weird at you.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, a chat, or just a cuddle.  Your friends want to be there for you just as much as you want to feel better.  Even if talking about a problem isn’t necessarily going to make it go away, it’s important to let the people who love you try to help.  In fact, the most important time to reach out to people is when you feel totally lost and helpless.  It’s the difference between standing alone on a battlefield saying “This is shit.  What am I going to do?” and standing beside someone who loves you, who will turn to you and say, “Yes, this is shit.  What can I do to help?”

Don’t just have a Wednesday.  Have a Marks and Spencer’s Wednesday.

Friendly Advice

Joey-and-Chandler-joey-and-chandler-31988668-500-380

Hello, you lovely human being!  Did you change your hair?  It looks amazing.  No really, you should wear it like that more often.

I’ve talked about this a lot before, but friends are absolutely ace, aren’t they?  (As in actual friends, not the television show.  Although that is ace as well.)  They make you laugh, they inspire you, they encourage you and they accept you for who you are.  Having said all of that, friends are also the most baffling and infuriating people on the planet.  Let me explain:

I love my friends dearly, and in many ways it’s great that a lot of them are drama types.  We all root for each other when we’re doing performances or projects, we’re an outgoing bunch so we tend to have excellent nights out, and every single one of us will drop whatever we’re doing for a good game of Werewolves.  The other main things that we have in common are a tendency to be pretty  emotionally expressive, and a burning desire to analyse everything.  In some extreme cases this can lead to over-thinking, hyper-sensitivity and being a bit of a diva.  In most cases it just creates emotionally aware, interesting people who can talk over a point.  In all cases, it leads to completely contradictory pieces of advice.

This isn’t specific to my drama lot, though.  All of our friends (and human beings in general) are hard-wired to analyse things in a unique manner, and therefore take the same piece of information and come to entirely different conclusions.  For example, consider the scenario of a shopping trip.

You: Shall I buy this?  (Whatever ‘this’ actually is.  Doesn’t really matter.)
Friend 1: Yes, definitely.
Friend 2: Not yet, give it some time.  You can’t rush these things.
Friend 3: Are you sure you really want to buy that?
Friend 1: Of course she does.  Get it!
Friend 3: I don’t think you actually want this item.  I think you actually want something else but you’re hiding behind this other thing.
Friend 2: You just have to wait and see how things turn out with a completely separate item before you decide to purchase this one.
Friend 3: I’m not even sure we’re in the right shop
Friend 4: Huh?  What are we talking about?

Bit of a nightmare, isn’t it?  Advice is very complicated.  Of course it’s good to listen to your friends, and in some cases their advice may be absolutely the best thing for you, but you should always go with your instincts.  Even if you turn out to make a mistake, at least you did what you genuinely thought was best at the time.  That way it is you who takes responsibility for the consequences of your decisions, and also you who reaps the rewards of them.  Besides, the fact that your friends have such different ideas should tell you that the situation is pretty complicated.  It’s best at this stage to give up on the shopping trip and grab a coffee instead.

Speaking of which, why not treat yourself to a fancy coffee today?  You deserve a little midweek pick-me-up.  Have an amazing Wednesday.

Connection Error

Image

Good afternoon, you lovely thing.  Sorry this post wasn’t written earlier; it’s been a bit of an odd day.

One of the biggest side effects of my mental health condition is feeling disconnected from reality.  I could be sitting in the middle of a pub with a large group of friends, talking, laughing and (not naming any names) burping, and still feel as though I am sitting in a bubble that prevents me from engaging with my surroundings.  This is, as I’m sure you can appreciate, a horrendously irritating state of affairs.

That’s not to say that I am alone in feeling this way.  Whether or not you suffer from a mental health disorder, we all have times when we feel cut off from the best and most fun things in our lives.  This might be because of stress, tiredness or even just having a short attention span, but the biggest challenge that all of us face at times like these is not to accept the disrupted connection.  We have to renew our efforts and keep trying to break through the bubble.  There are people on the other side of it who want to connect with us.

When I am feeling (for want of a more technical word) “bubbled”, it is as though I am sitting in the bottom of a pit and the people I love are standing around the edge of it, leaning down to me waving various potential remedies.  Sometimes it’s my lovely house mate Ash, who will be holding diet coke and offering me a hug; at other times it’s my uni lads, who usually come bearing cider and silly voices.  A lot of the time it’s my theatre company team Harry and Jules, who wave production meeting notes and coffee at me in an attempt to lure me out of the pit.  As you can see, beverages are a big factor in my recovery from feeling “bubbled”, but I’m not sure why…

There is a line that connects you individually to all of the people who love you, and that connection doesn’t go away, even when you feel completely isolated from them.  They hold onto the line very tightly when they need you, and they want you to hold on just as tightly when you’ve fallen into your pit.  If you have the courage and the humility to say “help me” when you’re totally lost, they will combine their efforts to support you and get you the heck out of the pit.  They don’t want you to be stuck in there, because when it’s their turn to fall down in one, they’ll need you.  Also (in my case at least) it’s just not practical for you to live in a hole in the ground.  How can anyone run a theatre company from down there?

Sorry about the mixed metaphors and similes; whatever you’re up to today, I hope that you feel neither bubbled nor pitted.  If you are, then let your loved ones haul you out.  They are quite right to want you around.