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This particular devil has descended upon our house. So far it has only hit my wife, but just the fact that it is within these four walls is enough to start my health anxiety rising.
1. No Touch Policy
This is one of the first things that goes into action when a bug hits the household. There is an immediate no touch policy and this doesn’t just affect the person. I also enforce no touch of any part of the bathroom, bed or any possible surface that may have been touched. This can be quite a large area, but my super alert mind can remember the exact location of every place my wife has touched.
Of course, there is an immediate quarantine area that anyone not affected must not enter. This area usually includes the bedroom, bathroom and the hallway in between. It means I spend the contagious days in the spare room wearing a gas mask and chanting against evil spirits. I also anoint myself with hand gel.
The level that this goes to is only limited by what I can get away with. In an ideal world, every plate, glass, bedding, clothing, and bathroom visited by the ill person would be placed into a sealed container and dropped into the nearest active volcano. What actually happens is the clothes and bedding go on a boil wash (there is no volcano setting on our washing machine). The plates and glasses go on an extra long dishwasher setting, and anything eaten by the person 24 hours before is tested and analysed.
4. The Mind
Goes into Overdrive All of a sudden, I become not only a leading forensic detective, but I also develop an amazing sense of self-preservation. I liken it to the 70’s show Joe 90, it’s as if I put on glasses and I suddenly know the incubation period of any bug ever discovered. I also overthink any possible contamination or infection. I worry for the whole period of quarantine as well as a good three days after.
This is a big part for me because I feel very guilty for these feelings and coping strategies. I know that my wife understands, but I feel as though I should be helping. I do all the housework and looking after Bea of course, but It still feels like it’s not enough.
I have actually been very good for writing this as I usually can’t type or mention that which can’t be mentioned (no, not Voldemort).
I was reading some stories related to mental health and I came across an interesting article on The Conversation website about how people are using ASMR type videos on YouTube to help them relax and get to sleep.
I have to be honest and say that I had never heard about ASMR before, or their effect on people with anxiety and mental health problems. However, I was interested to see if this could be a way to help me relax and get to sleep, mainly because that is a problem I have had for a while.
I then thought about my daughter, and the number of videos she watches on YouTube every day. These videos are not necessarily calming and designed to relax you, but because she has autism, maybe this is a subconscious way she has developed of relaxing?
I also like to watch videos and movies before I go to bed, as I find that it helps me to wind down, though evidence suggests that this type of activity should keep you awake rather than help you sleep.
I have always chastised by daughter from watching too much YouTube before bed, but she never has any problems sleeping, so perhaps the ASMR is working on her?
It seems from the article I read, that more research is needed as apparently, not everyone experiences the tingling sensation that it is supposed to trigger.
I thought I would do a quick search on YouTube to see what came up, and, well, you have to see it to believe it. There are hundreds of these ASMR videos with people doing everything from ‘virtually’ cutting your hair to whispering to you down the microphone. My personal favourite was the lady who was licking false ears. I have embedded the video for your delight.
I’m in two minds about this really, but for the sake of experimentation, and to see if it helps me sleep, I will give it a try. But I won’t be watching the ear licking one..sorry nice lady.
I’m an anxious man,
Living to anxieties plan,
When you see me wringing my hands,
I’m trying hard to give a damn,
But, I’m an anxious man.
I’m an anxious man,
I try to walk the dog when I can,
But I don’t like shit on my hands,
So I use fifteen poopy bags,
Coz I’m an anxious man.
I’m an anxious man,
People say that they understand,
But I don’t think that some give a damn,
They just think that it’s all a sham,
But, I’m an anxious man.
The past few days has been a little turbulent for me, not because I have had bad anxiety, but because I have had a motivational battle. I guess I’m a little ambitious about what I want to achieve, like anyone who does something they love to do. However, even though I have achieved a few things that I wanted, there are other goals that I have set myself.
If you read my other post on watching TED talks, you would know that I am trying to motivate myself to do more with my writing than I currently am. I spent a good couple of hours yesterday looking for sites that I might want to write for, but the same thing kept popping into my head. That either the application process was too long and arduous, or they were too particular and wouldn’t want my writing.
I know that this is my anxiety talking, that it is trying to undermine my ability to get things done, but even though I know this, it is difficult to silence. Also, it is extremely persuasive which can be the most annoying part. On the few occasions I have managed to overcome this voice, I have done things that I never thought I would. You would think that this would be enough to get me past this, but every time it resurfaces as strong as ever. That little anxious voice says that I have achieved what I wanted, I don’t need to go any further.
Although this battle is something you can’t really understand unless it happens to you, it is important to try and not let it win – well, not all the time.
When people ask me about my musical taste, I usually say that it is varied. I am sure that if you have read the rest of my Musical Reflection series you would agree. (Apart from having two songs from ‘Wings’ which surprised me.)
Normally, I might like one or two songs from a group or singer, and this next song is the same. When I first heard ‘Ideal World’ by ‘The Christians,’ I thought it was a lovely song so I listened to more of their tracks. Apart from one or two others, this was my favourite. It’s full of thought provoking lyrics that can mean many things, although it speaks mainly of being oppressed because of colour, it can also mean oppression in general.
To me it speaks many meanings including those misunderstood or mistreated for a variety of reasons. Although an ‘Ideal world’ might be too much to ask, perhaps just a more understanding and tolerant one will be achievable.
It is funny that I am sitting here writing my 300th blog post on this site. I have had other sites in the past, but this one has been the one that has kept me fulfilled and also been a cathartic way of expressing my anxiety and my struggles with it.
I thought it only fitting that I use this post to reflect on my blogging life and style. It is true to say that I haven’t always been a prolific blogger, especially when I have been having bad spells. However, I have always felt at home writing about my problems, and I hoped that they might inspire others to seek help or to know that there are others out there suffering in the same way.
When I first started writing on here with my first post I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. It was more a case of just posting random things about my day and my health, which was good, but not exciting I guess.
Although I have done the occasional ‘list’ blog post, I don’t usually like doing them. I know they are popular and they are informative, but I never really started this blog to make money or do what everyone else does, it was more a case of saying what I wanted to say.
I have changed styles a little I think, I have recently started a musical reflection series and an anxious mind series, and I love doing them both. I don’t have a lot of time to blog these days, but I enjoy writing them just in case anyone reads them and likes them 😉
As you might also know from my site, I don’t usually write long posts, I don’t think people want to read a long piece about me or something I’m doing, they just want the edited highlights.
So, what next? Well, I want to carry on writing and doing this blog because it has become more than just a blog for me now. I also see this as a little piece of me that my daughter can look back and read. My dad did it with cassette recordings that I still have, and I hope that this will still be around somewhere when she gets older.
I have mentioned before that my memory isn’t good, especially around my younger years. There are only a few things I can remember, and some I’m not sure are real memories, or those created from stories my mum told me.
One thing I do remember is when my brother Neil Daws was heavily into film making. For those that are not old enough to remember pre-mobile days, it was a lot harder to make a movie than it is today. You couldn’t just film something a watch it back there and then, it had to go and be developed and then you had to physically cut and paste it together to make the movie.
The one movie my brother made that I still remember clearly is a music video for the song ‘Band on the Run’ by the band ‘Wings’. Here is a passage my brother wrote to explain the story behind it.
Dad loved technology and the family had been filmed by him on his compact cine camera during many family holidays. I inherited his cine camera after his untimely death, a time when I was becoming interested in movie special effects, especially through sci-fi, and upgraded to a flashier cine camera. The early 1980s would see an explosion of music videos so I decided to experiment. I liked the band ‘Wings’ and chose one of their songs, ‘Band on the Run’, because of the many named characters in the lyrics such as ‘county judge’, ‘jailer man and sailor Sam’, ‘rabbits on the run’, and ‘undertaker’. It gave me the opportunity to create costumes for them and build sets, e.g. a coffin in a chapel of rest, prison cell, etc. Filming on location and in sets built at home, cutting and splicing on a hand-wound editor, syncing a sound track and replicating the overlaying of two different shots (using my friend and I as actors in front of a projection screen) was enormously challenging on 8mm cine film. That said, the whole enterprise was great fun, the final effect was actually pretty good and the whole enterprise remains a treasured memory.
My memory of this song is tightly linked to this movie, which unfortunately I cannot share as it is still in pre-digital 8mm cine film.
It is great that I still have such memories of fun and excitement from that part of my life, and I even made the odd cameo in these movies. I wonder what my brother would have created had YouTube and modern technology been around then?
It is a question that every father hears at some time in their lives. The desperate call of their child asking for help with complete confidence in their father’s ability to deal with whatever it may be. So, this is the question that echoed up from downstairs as I was on the computer. The rest of the conversation went like this.
Me: What’s the matter?
Daughter: I’ve dropped my dolls arm down the toilet!
Me: Oh dear
Daughter: I don’t know what to do?
Me: Just flush it
Daughter: I can’t do that, it’s plastic it will end up in the sea!
Me: No, it won’t, just flush it
Daughter: Can you get it out for me?
Me: Can’t you reach it?
Daughter: Yeah but there’s poo in there I don’t want to touch it!
Me: What!? Well I don’t want to touch it!
Daughter: But it’s my favourite dolls arm (sob)
Me: How can you have a favourite dolls arm!?
Me: (sigh) Ok then……is there much poo?
Daughter: No, just a little
She lied! The was a large poo staring up at me when I looked in the bowl. And close beside it was the small arm of a doll. In a moment of genius, I thought that I would use the long tweezers that we used for the fish tank. However, the tweezers were not as long as I had remembered, I still came perilously close to the yellow water with my fingers (yes there was pee too). I managed to grab it with the very end of the tweezers and lift it into the sink. I told my daughter to wash the arm while I tried to scrub the skin off my hand. Of all the dad help requests, this will haunt me forever.
For those that don’t know, I am that Crystal Palace fan, and I have heard this song played many times since I first saw them play.
I won’t say how old I was, or the team I saw as I honestly cannot remember, one of the problems of having anxiety for so long. I do remember, however, spending many match days watching the team from the Holmesdale Road end with my friends. At the time, this was a standing area with no roof, which meant you had to keep your eyes out for pigeons. They used to fly from one floodlight pylon to the other, dropping their droppings as they went. It was an unlucky day for you if they managed to hit your meat pie.
My most fond memory, and one that involved this song a lot was the 1990 F.A Cup Final against Manchester United. My brother and I had agreed to travel up by official coach from the ground, along with hundreds of other fans. The driver started the journey with Glad All Over which immediately got everyone singing. However, he continued playing it about every 15 minutes so by the time we reached Wembley I was getting a bit sick of it if I’m honest.
Yeah I know the title is a little odd, but when I was thinking about this post, the song Centerfold by J. Geils Band popped into my head. For those who may be too young to know what I’m talking about, I provide the video for you.
I was laying awake in bed the other night unable to get to sleep when I thought about how Belicia would think about my blog. She knows I have one, though she has never read it. I thought that it would be a good way for her to get an insight into her dad and his slightly odd sense of humour. I also though that it would be a good way to remember facts and events that happened to us as a family.
My dad recorded tapes of me and him for a couple of years, talking about Christmas and birthdays, and my first day at school. I like hearing them now, and listening to the things that were happening then. My memory of my childhood is patchy at best, some doctors have said is was the trauma of my dad dying that blocked out a lot of it, but I am sure some of it would have returned by now.
If I think back, I get a few images of dad and I playing football in the back garden, and of the games nights we used to have, but there is little detail about anything. I am amazed how some people can recite almost all of their teachers from when they were a kid, I have to say that I cannot remember any name at all. I remember my science and PE teacher at secondary school, but only their faces, no names.
There is actually only one teacher I remember, Miss Stop. I think the reason I remember her was because of an unfortunate event that happened in her class at junior school circa 1979. I remember sitting there in the lesson and asking her the totally honest question “Are you pregnant Miss?” I never received a reply from her, I was just told to sit in the corner. I never did find out if I had offended her because it was too personal, or if I accidentally body shamed her. However, that event has forever sealed her name into my mind. If by some remote chance, a relative of Miss Stop, who worked at Kingsley Junior School in Croydon is reading this, I am sorry for the offence caused.
The year 2017 has been a year of firsts in many ways, some of them good, others not quite so much. However, one thing has remained throughout, is that family and friends are a vital part of survival.
On a personal front, 2017 has been the first full year without my mum who passed away just before Christmas 2016. It has meant that we have had to deal with events such as her birthday for the first time. I am conscious of the fact that she would have been proud of Belicia and how she has done this year at school and in her concerts and that gives me comfort.
Our daughter has started her secondary school this September, which was something my wife and I have been worried about for some time. She isn’t always good with change and such as big change as this we thought would cause issues. However, with the massive help of her new school, including a number of orientation days, she has started well and is loving the new environment. She has also been allowed to do swimming with us once a fortnight, which has given me the incentive to use the gym while my wife and her swim.
From a professional point of view, I have been trying to do more on my blog site as well as do the things I love such as writing and spending time with my family. Thankfully, I have been able to do both which I never thought would be possible a few years ago. I haven’t always done great projects, but they have given me the experience and portfolio to do better work.
So, what about next year? Well, I want to be more prolific in my blogging and aim to get my desire for better knowledge of mental health to those who can do something about it. One person can make a difference, and I know that there is always the opportunity to reach people, especially in our connected world.
I also want to continue this period of relative calm that my anxiety has found. Yes it is medicated, but it is still stable and that is the best its been for some while. I have also grown increasingly inclined of late to make my life and that of my family as straightforward as possible. One thing that has been most clear to me is that I want to do things that make us happy and give us positive memories. Of course, that isn’t always possible, but it means removing those things that upset us or have a negative effect on out lives.
It was Christmas once again and this year, we seemed more organised than we had before. My wife had spent her time scouring Amazon for presents and had done almost everything by the beginning of December. I had to keep asking her if we were ready as I could hardly believe it, we even chose a small turkey crown instead of something the size of an emu.
The last week was extremely hectic, with my daughters concert at Canterbury Cathedral, a singalong with all of us involved at church, and a present exchange party. It made the arrival of Christmas day even more welcome, after a nice Christmas Eve afternoon at my brothers house.
We had decided to buy our daughter PlayStation VR for Christmas because she had been wanting one for a long time. We managed to save enough to do it and her expression on Christmas day was worth the sacrifice. However, it meant that we didn’t get to see any Christmas TV that day as she was on it from 9am through to 10pm. The Christmas meal went without a hitch thanks to our decision to get almost everything pre-prepared and in its own container to save time and washing up. We also reserved ourselves to an individual Christmas pudding as we never manage to eat a big one.
The only show I did manage to see was Doctor Who, which was good although it didn’t seem to offer much in the way of Earth threatening alien action. I was also entertained by all of the Tweets afterwards from Neanderthals who proclaimed that they were never watching Who again now a woman was the Doctor. They seemed to genuinely think that the BBC would give a turkey what they thought.
On the 27th of December, after a leisurely Boxing day, my brother, our friend and I, went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You can see my review of the film here (now come on, that was a great link, worth a look just for that surely?) It seemed to wrap up Christmas nicely and lead us into that abyss that is the Christmas to New Year gap.
I know that for retailers everywhere, Christmas starts just after the last pumpkin has been carved, but this trend is now starting to spread. Driving down the road in my village, I spied a couple of houses that has started to put up lights; this being the end of November.
Now that we have officially be dragged into December, the number of houses with Christmas decorations has blossomed. It is like they have had everything ready in their hallways, just waiting for the strike of midnight on the 30th November.
Now I must admit to thinking about expanding my own array of Christmas lights outside the house this year. My rose bush draped in blue lights was certainly a spectacle last year, but I want to go a bit further this year. I won’t go as far as having lights around the gutter as I don’t think I can handle the height, so it will have to be something a little nearer the ground.
I have seen\ the newest decoration this year, the lights and symbols projected on the front of the house. Although it looks nice, I can’t help but think it will just make my house look like the venue for a Jean Michel Jarre concert.
I’m thinking that I might go a bit more tasteful and try a star in the window and two frolicking reindeer on the front lawn.
The one thing that will make its annual appearance is the front door wreath. It has adorned our front door for many years now and is still in good condition. It is funny how families have one thing that always comes every Christmas. For my mum it was an old bell with a music box inside that played ‘Silent Night’ at varying speeds every time you pilled the clapper. She also had an old cut-out Father Christmas picture made out of card, that I suspect was just an old Coca Cola advert.
At least with all the outdoor lights, the village looks really pretty. It will be something to look at until January the 1st when the hot cross buns go back on sale.
Do you struggle at the office Christmas party? If so, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself get through it. Today, I will be talking about how social anxiety can affect you at this time of year, and what you can do about it.
What are your thoughts on anti-depressants? Have you been scared to try them? Do you have issues with the side-effects?
You can listen to my new podcast here to hear me discuss my experiences with anti-depressants.
I discuss the subject of blogging and my own personal thoughts about my own blog on my latest podcast which you can here below.
With the recent problems suffered by Anne Hegerty on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, I was thinking about how people with mental health issues or conditions such as Asperger’s and Autism cope with these reality TV shows.
I am sure that many celebrities and members of the public that go on these shows are willing to undergo the trials and tribulations. However, I do have to call into question the reasoning behind some of their decisions. I am aware that many people want to go and put themselves in these situations, but are they really aware of the consequences?
The issues that Anne Hegerty had when she first entered the jungle, highlight for me the problems that some people face with these challenging reality TV shows. Although Anne has now seemed to calm down and dare I say, enjoy her experience, what will the long-term fallout be from this event?
I wondered if TV companies are giving the contestants on these shows the correct assessments before entering. Are they considering the implications of their actions, or are they fully aware, and want to use these stressful situations to gain more viewers for the show? They may argue that people agree to take part, but just because they want to, doesn’t mean they should.
I am not suggesting discriminating against people with mental health problems or any conditions such as Autism, but I feel that more needs to be done to stop what might become an exploitation of these individuals for ratings.
While there are many, including myself, who are praising Anne for bringing Autism to the public eye and raising awareness, we also need to be cautious of the fact that this is supposed to be entertainment, and is seeing Anne is distress really entertaining?
You can read more about Autism and Aspergers on the autism.org.uk website.
I’m sure that most people have had to make up a quick excuse at some point in their lives. The reason that led me to do this recently, was not your typical scenario. You might need to think quickly when you get caught eating the last cake, or when you all those Amazon parcels arrive. However, I think even the most seasoned white lier would have trouble with my latest example.
A Good Cause
Kirstie and I have a friend that volunteer for the Red Box Project in our area. It’s an initiative that provides feminine sanitary products to women and young girls that can’t afford to get them themselves. So, when she asked if we could help her collect some donations for the project, we were of course, more than happy to oblige.
She came out with four carrier bags full of sanitary products an put them in our car. I then dropped off the wife and our friend so I could take Bea to her tutor. I usually stay in the car outside as it is easier than driving home and back again, so I took out my laptop and started to do a little work.
I then noticed a light out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a woman looking through her kitchen window at me. I suddenly became highly nervous, but I wasn’t sure why. I also started to think that maybe she imagined I was a prowler or that I was spying on her.
Thus began my overactive imagination, and what I was expecting to happen became more outrageous by the minute. Imagined that she was now reaching for the phone, and calling the police to report a dodgy character sitting outside her house.
With this in mind, I thought about what would happen if they turned up. How would I justify my reason for being there? Well, I was waiting for my daughter to finish with her tutor which was totally plausible and true.
I then glanced into the back seat.
I saw the bags of new tampons and sanitary pads in the carrier bags, and suddenly, my plausible excuse was turned on its head. All of a sudden, my daughter going to the tutor was a clever ruse to fulfill my perverted fantasies. All I could hear was the police officers voice saying ‘why do you have these bags of sanitary products in your car, sir?’
I then began to think of perfectly logical reasons for these being here. I decided that denying all knowledge of them was fruitless, as was claiming they were on a Black Friday deal and ‘too good to pass up.’ I then thought about saying that my wife asked me to get them for her as she has a particularly bad time at this time of the month. However, four carrier bags worth would almost certainly have led to some strange looks.
Decent into Madness
I then came up with arguably the most outrageous excuse I have had to date. I figured I would say that I was helping to deliver these to disadvantaged women on behalf of my friend, akin to Sants’s little helper. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I would drop them down their chimneys, or that I would go inside the house, only that I would drop them through the letterbox.
Thankfully, by this point, my daughter had finished, no police were called, and my elaborate story didn’t need to be told.
For some time now I have been regularly having some weird dreams. In fact, they have been so weird, that I have had my wife and daughter in fits of giggles at their telling in the morning.
My wife suggested that these dreams might make interesting blog posts, so I decided to do so.
Interestingly, I haven’t had any that I remember in the past couple of days, but one factor that always presents itself is the celebrity. Almost all of my dreams feature a celebrity. either alive or dead, and they are usually not doing what they may be famous for.
One dream that I do remember is when I was standing outside my house and Jeremy Clarkson drove up in a hedge…yes, a hedge on wheels. I dare not try to find out what this might mean in case it’s code for me wanting to be a gardener or something.
I’m sure there will be more in the future.
This is a new podcast episode about my motivational issues at the moment and the ways anxiety can cause trouble.
You can hear the podcast here
I have recently started answering questions on a site called Quora, which is a site designed to try and answer peoples questions by those who have some knowledge of the subject. As you might imagine, I have been trying to answer questions on anxiety.
One of the questions that is always being asked is how someone can broach the subject of their anxiety to their families. I have always told them that they should try to be honest and tell them how they feel, so that they can help and support them.
However, it struck me that so many people are still struggling with this problem, and that they don’t feel able to talk to their families for whatever reason. My wife and I have always encouraged our daughter to tell us anything that may be worrying her, regardless of the issue, and I would hate it if she felt unable to talk to us about something like that.
I know that there are still some people that see the stigma towards anxiety and mental health, but, I have also seen many more people opening up about their problems and finding help and support in return. In many ways, it is great that there are so many charities like SANE that are working so hard to tackle stigma and are also there to help those that don’t feel they can turn to anyone else.
However, it upsets me that there are so many who feel so alone. I must admit that it took me a while to open up to my whole family. Not because I was worried about what they would say, but because I was ashamed. If we can help everyone feel that they don’t need to feel like that, then it will go a long way to breaking this stigma and helping people to become open about their mental health.
I haven’t done musical reflection post for a while, but I recently heard a track that brought back many pleasant memories and is certainly one of my favourites.
I have always been a fan of the Divine Comedy, not only because their songs are catchy, but also because the lyrics are brilliant.
National Express was the first song of their that I heard, and it was certainly the one that made me an instant fan. They capture the people and the journey’s you make superbly, though the acting in this video was a little shaky.
My mum would sometimes get the National Express to come and see me. The people she used to tell me about on the coach often reminded me of this song, though sadly no hostess.