All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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The deadly truth about loneliness

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Written by Michelle H Lim, Swinburne University of Technology

Almost all of us have experienced loneliness at some point. It is the pain we have felt following a breakup, perhaps the loss of a loved one, or a move away from home. We are vulnerable to feeling lonely at any point in our lives.

Loneliness is commonly used to describe a negative emotional state experienced when there is a difference between the relationships one wishes to have and those one perceives one has.

The unpleasant feelings of loneliness are subjective; researchers have found loneliness is not about the amount of time one spends with other people or alone. It is related more to quality of relationships, rather than quantity. A lonely person feels that he or she is not understood by others, and may not think they hold meaningful relationships.

For some people, loneliness may be temporary and easily relieved (such as a close friend moving away, or a spouse returning home after a work trip). For others, loneliness cannot be easily resolved (such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage) and can persist when one does not have access to people to connect with.

From an evolutionary point of view, our reliance on social groups has ensured our survival as a species. Hence loneliness can be seen as a signal to connect with others. This makes it little different to hunger, thirst or physical pain, which signal the need to eat, drink or seek medical attention.

In affluent modern societies, however, turning off the alarm signals for loneliness has become more difficult than satisfying hunger, thirst or the need to see the doctor. For those who are not surrounded by people who care for them, loneliness can persist.

Researchers have found social isolation is a risk factor for disease and premature death. Findings from a recent review of multiple studies indicated that a lack of social connection poses a similar risk of early death to physical indicators such as obesity.

Loneliness is a risk factor for many physical health difficulties, from fragmented sleep and dementia to lower cardiovascular output.

Some individuals may also be biologically vulnerable to feeling lonely. Evidence from twin studies found that loneliness may be partly heritable.

Multiple studies have focused on how loneliness can be a result of certain gene types combined with particular social or environmental factors (such as parental support).

Loneliness has largely been ignored as a condition of concern in mental health. Researchers have yet to fully understand the extent of how loneliness affects mental health. Most studies of loneliness and mental health have focused solely on how loneliness relates to depression.

Although loneliness and depression are partly related, they are different. Loneliness refers specifically to negative feelings about the social world, whereas depression refers to a more general set of negative feelings.

In a study that measured loneliness in older adults over a five-year period, loneliness predicted depression, but the reverse was not true.

Addressing loneliness

Loneliness may be mistaken as a depressive symptom, or perhaps it is assumed that loneliness will go away once depressive symptoms are addressed. Generally, “lonely” people are encouraged to join a group or make a new friend, on the assumption that loneliness will then simply go away.

While creating opportunities to connect with others provides a platform for social interaction, relieving the social pain is not so straightforward. Lonely people can have misgivings about social situations and as a result show rejecting behaviours. These can be misconstrued as unfriendliness, and people around the lonely person respond accordingly. This is how loneliness can become a persistent cycle.

A study examined the effectiveness of different types of treatments aimed at addressing loneliness. The results indicated that treatments that focused on changing negative thinking about others were more effective than those that provided opportunities for social interaction.

Another promising way to tackle loneliness is to improve the quality of our relationships, specifically by building intimacy with those around us. Using a positive psychology approach that focuses on increasing positive emotions within relationships or increasing social behaviours may encourage deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

Indeed, even individuals who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness have reported improvements in their well-being and relationships after sharing positive emotions and doing more positive activities with others. However, research using a positive psychology approach to loneliness remains in its infancy.

We continue to underestimate the lethality of loneliness as a serious public health issue. Contemporary tools such as social media, while seeming to promote social connection, favour brief interactions with many acquaintances over the development of fewer but more meaningful relationships. In this climate, the challenge is to address loneliness and focus on building significant bonds with those around us.

The growing scientific evidence highlighting the negative consequences of loneliness for physical and mental health can no longer be ignored.

The ConversationThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Roadblocks to Recovery: #3. Social Isolation

Over the last eight years, my hope has been on the decline, so it is no surprise to me to find that it has now completely evaporated. What caused this decline in hope began when I lost my social network in 2007, following my breakdown and the subsequent emotional abuse I received. For without people with whom to share our life with, there is little hope left. Hence today’s roadblock to recovery is the isolation I have found myself existing in.

Social Isolation

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There is a difference between loneliness and isolation, just as there’s a difference between isolation and solitude. What I experience is not the serenity of a few hours spent in solitude from the hustle-bustle of contemporary life, what I experience on a daily basis is the soul-crushing state of being completely isolated from the rest of the human world. I have no friends. I have no acquaintances. I have no-one. And over the course of the last eight years, that’s something few people have been able to comprehend.

We live in a world where friendships are common place. Everyone is supposed to have ‘friends’ on Facebook, everyone is supposed to have a cavalcade of followers on Twitter, and everyone is supposed to have one or two people in the real world that they consider friends. People with whom you can catch up with over a beverage or two, people who you can confide in, people with whom you can wile away the hours and validate your own existence. So when someone – such as myself – comes along who has no-one, people react with complete confusion.

Over the years, everyone from support workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and telephone counselors have reacted with disbelief upon being told I have no friends. They were unable to comprehend that some people have no-one they can share life with; that no matter how hard some people try, they just don’t have any friends.

The problem I have making friends stems from the first two roadblocks I have looked at; PTSD and social anxiety disorder. My abuser worked her genetically blessed arse off to convince both myself and the world that I deserved no-one in my life. She deliberately isolated me from my friends through a series of lies and manipulations, she informed me that I was an orphan that no-one could ever love and took great glee in informing me that I should move into a cave where I wouldn’t inflict myself on the world. Her incessant abuse also rendered me unable to trust a living human being – including my parents – and without trust it’s almost impossible to make friends, let alone sexual relationships. Even if it wasn’t for the psychological damage my abuser inflicted on me, making friends has always been something I’ve found difficult to do. Ever since I was but a wee young thing in school, talking to people has been difficult for me. This is why it took so long (five years) to make friends after my arrival in Australia, and why I find it so difficult to forgive my abuser for destroying this social network I’d created.

The other reason that I find making friends so difficult, is the simple reason that I don’t have any friends. It may sound odd, or plain ironic, but the simple fact is it’s easier to make friends when you already have friends than it is to make friends when you don’t have friends. Firstly, you are more likely to meet new people through your existing friends, and secondly, people are far less likely to ask “what’s wrong with you”. For someone who doesn’t have friends is automatically (and wrongly) labelled as being ‘not friend material’ because they must be ‘crazy’, ‘needy’ or ‘just plain damaged’.

I am acutely aware that being so isolated is damaging to both my physical and mental health. A study in 2013 found that people who suffer from social isolation are more likely to die prematurely and it is commonly known that isolation can increase feelings of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. So it isn’t too difficult to realise how being isolated has become such a severe roadblock on my journey to recovery. We all need someone in our lives. Someone we can vent to. Someone we can share with. Someone we can spend time with. To have no-one is painful, debilitating and damned lonely.

The only social contact I have comes from my weekly appointments with my support worker. They last for approximately one hour each. Every single other hour of the week I spend alone; staring at the wall, roaming the streets, trying desperately to work out how I can make friends. It’s debilitating, painful and makes me wonder why I continue with this crazy thing called life.

So what can be done about my isolation? How does one even go about making friends at the tender old age of thirty-six?

Well, firstly, I need to do something about my social anxiety disorder. For as long as this condition retains the control it does over my mind, I am never going to be confident enough to talk to other human beings. There is far too much risk of humiliation and badness if I do.

And, secondly, I need to do something about my PTSD. For as long as this condition retains the control it does over my mind, I am never going to be able to trust other human beings to the point of making and retaining relationships with them. There is far too much risk of pain and chaos if I do.

But once I’ve done those, there are other things I can do:

Thirdly, I could join some local community organisations or social groups, this way I can enjoy my spare time doing something I enjoy doing whilst placing myself in a position to make new friends and connections. Perhaps a photography group or book club would be suitable to begin with.

Fourthly, I can make more of an effort to connect with people online. I find this method of communication less painful than real-world conversation and it could lead to making online friends with the hope of transferring the friendship into real-world contact, depending on where the people live, of course.

Fifthly, well, I honestly can’t think of a fifth option, for making friends basically boils down to getting yourself out there and just meeting people! No amount of counseling or therapy is going to make friends, it’s just something you need to do, regardless of risk. For without risk there is no reward.

Previous installments in ‘Roadblocks to Recovery’:


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One thing I got for Christmas

By now, many of you will have spent the day waking up at the crack of dawn, ripping open your presents and slaving away in a baking hot kitchen preparing a roast dinner to end all roast dinners. You will no doubt have had numerous moments where you wished you were sunbathing on a beach instead of partaking in the traditional family Christmas and occasions where you’ve snuck off for a sneaky cigarette so your Great Aunt Doris doesn’t find out about your nicotine addiction.

By now, you’ll probably be wishing for an oasis of calm amidst the riotous nature of the contemporary Christmas Day, a few moments to recharge your batteries and prepare for an evening of board games, temper tantrums and overly drunk relatives. So why not seize the opportunity to partake in a little blogging? For today marks the commencement of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge!

And as its Christmas Day, we begin with: one thing you got for Christmas!

Now, given the fact that I live in relative isolation, surviving Christmas is always a difficult task for me. I don’t get to enjoy the hectic Christmas dinner, children throwing toys across the room or the random person in the corner of the room that may or may not be one of your relatives. I just have to find whatever outlet I can to survive this most insidious and lonely of days as safely as I can.

One of the things I do to get through the day unscathed is buy myself a present. In 2009, when I was homeless, I treated myself to dinner. In 2011, when I was still homeless, I purchased a couple of books from a local second-hand bookstore to provide me with a distraction from the big day. This year, I decided a DVD box set was the way to go.

As regular readers of my blog will be aware, my favourite animated movie of all time is the Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbor Totoro; which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Not only is it one of the most perfect films of all time, it is also a film that has tremendous sentimental attachment, for this was the film that Samantha and I chose to watch during our day in Glasgow.

My Neighbor Totoro

My favourite of the six exclusive postcards

To mark the film’s 25th anniversary, Madman Entertainment saw fit to release a limited edition box set, consisting of: the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, an exclusive matchbox diorama, six exclusive postcards and a 176-page hardback book showcasing the art of My Neighbor Totoro.

This box-set was my Christmas present this year; and I am overwhelming happy with my decision! The book – a generous collection of concept sketches, fully rendered character designs and background paintings – is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! The matchbox diorama, of a sleeping Totoro, is beyond cute. And I fully plan to frame the postcards in order to brighten up my rather drab cream walls.

Sure, some people may think that for someone living in poverty this purchase was a little excessive, but I do not. Since waking up this morning the urge to self-harm has been omnipotently present throughout each arduous hour. But after transporting myself into Totoro’s world, that urge has dissipated; replaced with a broad smile and a renewed spring in my step.

My Neighbor Totoro

The box set in all it’s divine glory! :)


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Tears before Christmas

Every year for the last few years I’ve had a little weep on Christmas Day. For people like myself who don’t have someone to have Christmas cuddles with, who have no-one to give presents to and who’ll be eating their dinner alone, Christmas is not a day of celebration, but survival.

It’s the one day of the year that you’re expected to spend with your friends and family. So much so that when you tell people you’ll be spending the big day alone they look at you in complete, dumfounded bewilderment. Their minds unable to process that there are people on the planet who have no-one. People who are living in poverty; people who are homeless; people struggling with mental health issues; people who society have deemed to be irrelevant, inconsequential or so badly broken that it’s dangerous to become their friend.

Tomorrow there will come a time when my inconsequentialness strikes home and I collapse on the sofa for a half-hour crying session, wishing for the one thing many people take for granted; loving companionship. It’s become such a holiday tradition that nothing I do will stop it. The tears will come…but I’ll be ready for them.

What I wasn’t ready for were the tears that started to fall this afternoon, tears that quickly descended into a full on bawling session, complete with ghost-like wails, breathing difficulties and the occasional hiccup. And the reason behind such an unmanly response? Personally I think it was a combination of the anniversary of Samantha’s death, a release of the emotional stress that Christmas brings and because the triggering greetings card had cut through my heart and challenged everything I believe about myself.

And yes, you read that right, the trigger behind such an over-the-top reaction was a simple greetings card. A home-made card that members of the Hearing Voices Support Group I attend had made and signed with a variety of challenging words of affection:

Andrew, you are so very wise and motivated ♥ 
I admire your wisdom and the joy you bring to the group
You are a very valued member of the group, wise, creative and independent
You have been so brave this year

Hours later I still can’t quite comprehend what people have written in the card. I’ve spent the better part of the last twelve months believing that my presence in the group was irrelevant, and as a result, that I am irrelevant. I’ve believed that my contributions were inconsequential, that no-one had noticed I was there and if they did notice my presence, they’d quickly come to wish I wasn’t.

But I was wrong. And I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not used to hearing nice things about myself, I’m not used to other people giving me compliments, I’m not used to believing there are people in this world who actually notice my existence and who, for some inexplicable reason, occasionally enjoy being in my company.

It’s all a little too much for me to deal with at such an emotional and mentally challenging time of year, but it’s yet another event from the last twelve months that has me questioning how I view myself in comparison to how other people see me.

It’s yet another event that has me quietly commenting that maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all; that even though I’m spending Christmas alone, I may not be as badly broken as society would have you believe.


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Thirteen tips to help you survive Christmas

If you’re anything like me, Christmas is not the all-out happy family and friends fun fest that the media would have you believe. Instead, it’s a time of loneliness, emotional triggers and wishing to whoever will listen that the whole ‘holiday period’ would just bugger off and leave you alone.

Well, help is at hand. For today’s Thursday Thirteen I’m going to share some of my plan for getting through this insidious time of year relatively unscathed. Who knows, perhaps you will pick up a few ideas to help you survive this year’s silly season.

Christmas

~ in no particular order ~

1. Take steps to minimize self-harm

Because of the sheer number of emotional triggers that occur for me during this time of year (e.g. Samantha’s death, my girlfriend cheating on me on Christmas Day, not very pleasant memories of my abusive relationship) there is always the very real chance that I will resort to self-harm in order to get me through the days. However, as this is something I am trying not to do this year, I’ve taken steps to minimize the possibility.

Firstly, my random assortment of cutting implements have been given to my support worker to keep locked up in an impenetrable building during the holiday period. Secondly, I have placed on the fridge and bathroom mirror a list of distractions that I can utilize instead of self-harm. And thirdly, I have given myself permission to forgive myself should I take a misstep and actually self-harm.

Should this be a problem for you, other possible things you can do are: have a help-line number on hand in-case things become too difficult to control, make sure you have a trusted friend (or friends) that you can turn to if needs be, organize a ‘tool box’ of coping and distraction implements that you can use instead of your usual self-harm implements.

2. Seek out other people…

Most major towns and cities will have a charitable organisation that organizes a Christmas event for people in need. In my town there is a community lunch being offered, where people who don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with can enjoy a cooked meal in the company of other, like-minded souls.

Although I didn’t attend last year’s event – for reasons I shall divulge in a moment – I did head down in 2011, so this is an option that’s on the table if I can handle being around other people this Christmas.

So if you don’t fancy being alone for Christmas, why not do a little bit of local research and see what community events are planned for your towns or cities this year. Even if you do have people to spend Christmas with, you can always volunteer your time to help make Christmas a special time for those who are most in need.

3. …or spend the day on your own

The reason I didn’t attend last year’s community Christmas lunch was because my anxiety was so extreme that I couldn’t handle being around other people last year. There is also the trigger of being reminded just what I’m missing the most in my life; the company of others. However bizarre it may sound, being around others will often amplify my feelings of isolation and loneliness, thus making it more difficult when I return home alone.

As such, there is the very real possibility that, like last year, I will be spending Christmas Day alone. Although this sounds rather sad and pathetic, it really isn’t.

One of the best Christmases I ever had was spent completely on my own. I didn’t see friends, I didn’t see family, I didn’t see anyone. Instead, I chilled out watching movies, reading books, going for casual strolls in the snow and treating myself to a blissfully tasty home-cooked Christmas dinner.

Given the media make it abundantly clear that you should be spending Christmas Day with family and friends it’s all too easy to forget that there is nothing wrong with being on your own.

So if this is how you are choosing to spend Christmas, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it. Not even yourself!

4. Limit your alcohol consumption

Last year, I found myself turning to alcohol as a means of surviving the Christmas period. Normally I will drink alcohol on only four days of the year – my primary triggering anniversaries – so after last year I am acutely aware that this could become a problem again this year.

The plan I have in place to prevent this from happening is very similar to that of the self-harm issue above. I have resolved not to keep any alcohol in the house, I have my list of distractions to turn to in times of distress and, once again, I’ve given myself permission to forgive myself should a misstep occur.

So if the holiday period is a depressive one for you, and you feel you may be turning to alcohol to ease your pain, remember that alcohol is a depressive, so all you’re doing is making it harder for yourself!

5. Distractions I: Watch an uplifting movie

One of my primary methods of distraction is film and television. In preparation of the Christmas period I have made a list of films and television series that I want to watch; all of them being titles I can utilize to help me survive; all of them being ‘uplifting’ or ‘comic’ in nature.

So this year, in times of distress, I will (hopefully) be entertained by Monsters University, Due South, The To Do List, 30 Rock (S7) and The Lone Ranger.

Perhaps you too could benefit from preparing an emergency movie list! :)

6. Distractions II: Play an engrossing video game

Last year, I saved Hyrule twice and prevented Lego Middle Earth from total annihilation. This year, I plan to save Hyrule again (courtesy of a replay of Skyward Sword) and will no doubt play in Lego heaven once more courtesy of Audrey’s favourite game, Lego Batman. All the while reminding myself that there is nothing wrong with having a bit of playful fun over this time of year.

So if video games are your thing, perhaps you could plan to play through a particular title, or have a few old favourites up your sleeve in case of distressing times.

7. Distractions III: Write…Write…Write

As everyone is rushing around cooking Turkeys, tripping over presents and trying not to look silly in flimsy paper hats, blogs the world over will be desolate wastelands. But if you’re on your own, there’s nothing to stop you posting whatever meaningful thought that comes to mind. Writing is, after all, one of the most therapeutic practices there is and there will always be people like me waiting to read your words.

So if things are getting too much, remember that not everyone is with their family and friends, some will be sitting in front of their computer looking for things to read and people to spend Christmas with.

So get writing!

PS…if you’re stuck for things to write about, I will be undertaking a blog challenge of my own creation during the twelve days of Christmas, so you’re more than welcome to play along with me! :)

8. Treat yourself I: Gift for you

Christmas is a time for giving…so why not give something to yourself?

As I know Christmas is going to be a vicious period for me, I always try to buy myself a wee present to reward myself for all the good work I’ve done throughout the year. In the past these presents have ranged from a cherished music CD, items of clothing, a much wanted book or watchalicious DVD box set.

As yet I haven’t decided what my present will be this year, so if you’re not sure either, get your thinking caps on as Christmas is only six days away!

9. Treat yourself II: Food for you

As with item 8 above, one of my other personal traditions for Christmas, especially since my homelessness ended, is to treat myself to a particular foodstuff that I wouldn’t normally buy throughout the year. This foodstuff is something that always makes me happy, that I think is the most delicious thing in the world and something that I actually look forward to eating; namely, Yorkshire Puddings! :p

So why not reward all your hard work this year with a delicacy you wouldn’t normally buy, a foodstuff that will put a smile on your most worthy of faces.

10. Treat yourself III: Shower yourself with self-love

This is hard for me to do at the best of times, let alone during the most insidious and unpleasant times of the year! But this year I am going to do my level best to love myself as much as humanly possible.

Whether this is allowing myself an extra-long shower with sweet-smelling body lotion, indulging in half a dozen candles that are just as odorlicious as the body lotion or other, somewhat naughtier delights, this year I am going to try to make Christmas all about loving Addy.

So why don’t you do to? Love yourself, I mean, not me! Single out a few things you love to do but rarely get the chance – candlelit baths, massages, other, somewhat naughtier delights – and relish in the act of showering yourself with the love you rightly deserve.

11. Sleep!

With all the stressors and triggers ravaging your body, you may not be getting as much sleep as your body needs to function properly, so do your level best to get at least a few hours sleep each night.

Your body (and mind) will thank you for it if you do! :)

12. Remember that you’re not alone!

When the demons of isolation and loneliness consume you, remember that you are never alone. Even if you don’t have family or friends to turn to, most help-lines are operational throughout the Christmas and New Year period so don’t feel embarrassed to call them if you need to talk to someone.

But if you’re anything like me, when things become too overwhelming you completely forget your own name, let alone mental health help-lines. So one way you can remind yourself of this option is to create a helpful list of numbers – such as, Lifeline, Suicide Prevention Helplines, the Salvation Army, your local hospital or mental health service – that you can call if things get too overwhelming. Once you’ve created your list place it on the fridge, next to the TV, on a prominent mirror, so that you always know where it is should you need it.

13. Be prepared

If, like me, you know that the Christmas period is going to be a challenging, stressful and unpleasant time, channel your inner-boy scout and be prepared.

Hopefully this list will have given you a few ideas you can put in place to ease the stress over the holiday period, but if not, perhaps sit down and try to come up with a few ideas that could ease the loneliness, anxiety and depressive thoughts; and once done, perhaps consider sharing your ideas in the comments field below.

With all the media hubbub and consumerist shenanigans that occur over this time of year, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hurricane and swept away. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Remember, we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan; and this year I am planning for a healthy, safe and relatively stress-free Christmas. How about you?


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And so it begins…

*Trigger Warning*
~ Please note that this post may be triggering to some ~

Christmas

Every year it’s the same. The shops will begin filling with sparkly tinsel, oversized boxes of chocolate and all manner of snowmen, Santa Claus and reindeer covered merchandise. Turkeys will take over the frozen food department and ridiculously large legs of ham will fill the deli. The in-store music will begin playing carols, Slade and Cliff Richard, whilst everyone in them will run around like headless chickens preparing for a season of festivities with their friends, family and loved ones.

Every year it’s the same. A few weeks before Christmas I will begin isolating myself; I will begin contemplating self-harm; and I will begin questioning whether this holiday season will be my last. For whilst everyone else is relishing the opportunity of celebrating another year gone with those they hold most dear, I am dreading another holiday season with no-one to care for but myself.

This weekend marked the beginning of this year’s pain.

On Saturday I rose from a fitful slumber at 4pm, staggering to my couch for a good cry before self-harming with a kitchen knife to help me through the evening. My mind was swamped with daymares of snow covered scenes, scary Santas and another holiday season with no-one to hold. I remained on the couch until 10pm before retreating to the safety of my bedroom for another crying session and another night’s fitful sleep.

Sunday was much the same. Even though I rose earlier, at 12pm, the invasive thoughts of self-harm and suicide were with me from the moment I woke. I cleaned the apartment, sat in sadness on the couch and convinced myself that I needed to venture into the outside world. A trip that filled me with sorrow as people maniacally rushed around the shopping center stocking up for C-Day, a mere three weeks away. By the time I returned home I was back in full-on isolation mode. I couldn’t have the radio on because of the wall-to-wall Christmas music. I couldn’t surf the net without being inundated with pop-up Christmas ads and festive season themed news reports. All I could do was spend another evening staring at the television whilst self-harming with creams and the occasional blissful knife.

All I could do was dread another season of pain, another season of isolation and another season wishing that people would understand that, for some, the holiday season is not about love, happiness and togetherness. It is about pain, despair and loneliness.

With three weeks to go I realise I need to concoct a safety plan, I realise I need ways to counteract the oncoming storm and I realise that no matter how hard I’ve worked this year, the triggering effect of Christmas is still as strong, overwhelming and powerful as ever.

Note: this post was freewritten between 11:10am and 11:30am on Monday, 8th December 2013. Please excuse any spelling and/or grammatical errors that may appear within as they are all part and parcel of this style of writing.


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Absence makes the heart crave alcohol

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It’s been so long since I visited my blog I’ve almost forgotten what it looks like. My absence is not intentional, nor planned, but I humbly apologise if I’ve made anyone worry over vanishing from the interwebs for as long as I have.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had to deal with network connection problems, then a broken modem and the ongoing (all too obvious) pain of this most insidious time of year.

So much so that –  for the first time in a while – I’ve broken my strict ‘drink only on four days of the year rule’ and found myself imbibing increasing amounts of alcohol in an effort to numb the ever-increasing pain…something I fear will be replayed until the calendar clicks over to 2013 and begins to mark six years since I had a ‘life’. *sigh*.

It would be all too easy for my tipsy depression to whine, complain and rant at the moment but (fortunately for you) the internet cafe closes early today so I have only a few minutes online.

I will endeavour to be online as often as I can until I can resolve my current internet connection issues. I’m not sure how long this will be, but I’m doing all I can to somersault through the flaming hoops set up to make things as difficult as possible for people in low socioeconomic groups to connect with society, so my updates, tweets, comments and posts could be sporadic for the near future. Something I am truly sorry about (as I miss catching up on people’s blogs more than I miss writing my own).

Until then, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of fun, excitement and happiness; or if you’re as isolated as I am…*hugs* I hope the day wasn’t too painful :)

PS…it wasn’t all bad. After nearly twenty-five years of being a fan I finally got to see something I have always wanted to see; a camera movement I believe is a first in the Doctor’s 49 year history!

*smiles*…and yes, the new interior has my absolute stamp of approval, especially as we enter the fiftieth anniversay year!