On Inaction, Depression and the Way Forward

My favourite image to represent insomnia.

My favourite image to represent insomnia.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from depression. I’m lucky enough not suffer to the same extent that I know others do, but I am also aware of the effect it has on my life. It affects my relationships, habits, diet and any number of other things.

I’ve just returned to Mexico after a pleasant if uneventful visit ‘home’. I’ve spent more than my fair allotment in my three days back being utterly inactive and catching up on my TV-viewing and video gaming.

Beyond external stimuli (including but not limited to workload, dating dilemmas and familial guilt) there’s one thing that’s murder when it comes to depression, and that’s inactivity. Your body doesn’t work off any energy, your mind has the time to roll and roll through your mind, and you get the opportunity to spend 18 hour days watching TV and getting very little sleep. I expect that to be my situation tonight. So, I’ve decided to come up with a few “New Week’s Resolutions”* with which to occupy my mind:

  1. Finish typing up my novel so it’s all electronic. I’m at a stage now where I’m between half and two-thirds finished on the project and I’ve completely lost faith in it. I realise that when it is finished it will take so much editing as to make it a new book completely. Nonetheless, I’m determined not to give up on it. This is stage one in getting back to work on it.
  2. Write 3 new things. That’ll either be fiction or blog posts, I think. Today I dug up some old dabbles I can play with if needs be. Whatever I write,  they need to be of significant length and should hopefully get me back into the habit.
  3. Stop angsting about dating and stop acting on my angst. This one is a little more difficult and much less measurable, and therefore shouldn’t really be a resolution. Nevertheless, it’s mind blog and my head so nyer. 😛
  4. Lastly, I’m not going to sit in the house all day next Friday. What with the friends I have here, I’m sure this won’t be an issue as we all return to the country and get back to the work. That said, I want this to be my last weekend of inaction for a while. I’m giving myself tomorrow in response to the insomnia I’m anticipating for tonight.

So, yes. These are the thing’s I will and won’t do this week.

In other news, isn’t Jenna Louise Coleman cute and charismatic?! I can’t wait to watch the new half-season of Doctor who come my birthday.

Jenna Louise Coleman AKA Clara Oswin Oswald

Jenna Louise Coleman AKA Clara Oswin Oswald

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On Being a Zombie

Mexican Zombies!

Yesterday, I was a zombie for the Mexico City Zombie Walk. With a shirt bloodied from last week’s Halloween party* and a face bloodied with Warner Brothers’ sangre artificial,  I headed out to the Monument to the Revolution with around 15 thousand other walking corpses**. I think we broke a world record.

I have to tell you: it was amazing! I have LARPed before, but always had difficulty getting out of my own head and into that of the character. Being a mindless zombie, however, I forgot all about me and who I was and just got into scaring the shit out of passersby. Once we arrived at the Zocalo, I just stayed in character and hunted down randoms to scare. Dozens of people wanted their photos taken with me and of me, and I thoroughly scared plenty of people – particularly as it got darker.

Photos of me from the day can be found here. Hopefully I’ll find more from other people later.

Thanks to Maria for the pic, and Alex for the brains.

Two words of warning if you’re planning to do the same thing.

  • All my muscles hurt this morning. You have no idea. By holding one arm limp, head to one side and dragging one foot behind me, I’ve thoroughly irritated my whole body. Seriously, I walk like a zombie today purely because all of the muscles that usually work together to create locomotion really don’t want to cooperate.
  • I caught a 10 year old trying to pick my pocket, while hand in hand with his role-model father. Just keep an eye on your stuff when you’re partying in the Zocalo or Garibaldi. It’s the first time it’s happened to me, but I’ve always known it goes on. Just be careful is all.

This is not to put anyone off doing something like this, though, and it’s certainly not a comment on Mexico. You get 10-20 thousand people anywhere in the world and you’re going to get your fair share of arseholes, Fagins and opportunists. Just be smart about it and have as many ridiculous experiences as you can. That’s what I do. Happy Halloween and feliz Dia Los Muertos!

* I took it to the laundrette, and it was returned to me medical-waste-like in a separate baggie. I don’t think the laundry ladies were too impressed. Below is a picture from that Halloween party. I had to shave off that goatee to get all the fake blood out. Totally worth it.

The guy on the right is Drew: getting his priorities straight while I pose in the background.

** Estimates vary depending on the news outlet you choose. Apparently 10k registered plus those who didn’t.

Racism?

Yes, it’s a cliché to open with a definition. So sue me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about racism; about what is or isn’t acceptable.

In my job, you meet a lot of people from a lot of countries, and also a lot of people who have visited a lot of countries. Needless to say, this means that my colleagues and I see a lot of cultural diversity in almost everything we do. Is it entirely wrong to comment on it, or only to do so with malice?

Amongst my closest friends here I have Mexicans (obviously), a Frenchman, a Texan, a Hungarian, a Welshwoman, a guy from the Czech Republic (if memory serves) via well to so Middle England, and others. I am from working class South Yorkshire. We often joke about cultural differences and stereotypes (discussions often but not always instigated by me), and I wonder where the line is amongst friends. I think all my friends and colleagues here are friendly, warm, likeable people, and it would hurt me greatly to think that I’d offended them. That said, I don’t think I have. I think these issues are easier amongst people you know.

On the other hand, there are third party observations that ESL teachers are also guilty of. I’ve heard (and said) things like:

– “If you think it’s corrupt here, you should see XYZ!”
– “Yeah, Mexicans walk slowly, but ZYX walk slower.”
– “Mexico’s problem is just how disorganised it is.”
– “I hated ABC. Everyone was so rude!”

These points are asides from all the things we love about a place, of course. As teachers, we have a tendency to moan. British teachers doubly so. Mexico is here as an example because that’s where I am right now.

Anyway, when you’re at home amongst people who share a culture (even if it’s not your whole ethnic make-up) it’s a little easier to draw the line, I think. In Britain, there’ll always be the middle class fear of offending someone, but broadly speaking, you neither badmouth people who are different nor discuss the ways they are different, save on an ideological level. Out in the world where you’re living the cultural differences, it’s almost impossible not to discuss them. Particularly when you come across the rarity which is an accent that matches your own.

At the risk of mentioning Jeremy Clarkson in two posts in a row, the Mexican Top Gear scandal from a couple of years ago particularly comes to mind. In the episode (see below) Richard Hammond and co. compare a Mexican car to the bigot-approved “facts” about Mexican people as smelly, lazy, stupid desert-dwellers*. This is a perspective from men who leave their country only to mock others while simultaneously living up to the worst possible white Westerner stereotypes. This is racism, and outside of irony with friends, far from what I would ever allow to genuinely pass my lips.

I suppose this is more of a question-post than an answer-post. When you see cultural difference every day, when you travel to places where ideals, processes and habits are different: is it wrong to say so? I’d love your opinions on this.

*I have to say here that since I’ve been in Mexico, I don’t think I’ve met a lazy Mexican. Certain none lazier than me. Though I’ve seen some corruption (and even benefited from it) and a few ripe-smelling people on the tightly-packed public transport, these are certainly the exceptions rather than the rule. Geographically, there is so much varied landscape to see in Mexico without a grain of sand in sight. From a non-native Mexican inhabitant, Clarkson is an idiot.

30 Days Challenge: Day 18: A letter to someone you miss

To My Family:

Hello from Mexico! I just wanted to let you all know that I’m doing fine (as you know from my weekly calls) and all is well.

Sorry I seem to have spent so much of my time running away from you. I love you all. I love being with you and I miss you so much when I’m away. The problem is, the lives you live are not what I want for myself. Not yet, anyway. I need to be myself, even if it means I can’t be a part of the family in the ways I’d love to.

I hope you can all understand and forgive me. I’ll always be part of you, even from far away.

Lots of love,

Andy.

30 Day Challenge: Day 4: About your family.

Okay, let’s see. My family at present is as follows:

  • Mum
  • Mum’s fiancée, Graham
  • Dad
  • Dad’s wife, Karen
  • Dad’s mum and dad – my Nanan and Grandad
  • My brother, Micahel
  • His long-term gf, Simone.
  • Karen’s daughter, Sam
  • Sam’s husband, Russ
  • Their son, Brendan
  • The “Wakefield lot” being the family sprouting from my mum’s sister, with whom I’m not very close.

Let’s start at the top, then. My mum is lovely, silly and emotional. I think I get a large part of my personality from her. It’s always easy to just turn up and spend an hour or two together without anything having changed.

With my dad, it hasn’t always been that easy. We’ve always been very different people, and I think that when I was younger he was disappointed by that. We’ve come to terms over the years, and I really feel like he’s there for me, and supports the choices I make  (even the stupid ones).

Graham I don’t like. I think he mooches off my mum and has no intentions of helping her pay the bills long-term. Nonetheless, mum loves him and he makes her happy. I try to respect that whenever he’s not undermining me personally.

Karen on the other hand is lovely. She’s gentle, strong and caring. She really feels like a member of my family who really cares about me, and I her. She’s a wonderful person I’m glad my dad found.

Sam and Russ are great and I have a lot of fun hanging out with them. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much chance to get to know Brendan, as I seem to fly in and he’s grown another foot. He may be looking into a career as the next Jolly Green Giant. Regardless, they’re very much a part of my extended family.

Mike and I get on fairly well. As previously mentioned, we’re pretty different, but we have fun chatting, drinking, talking about girls or playing Call of Duty together. I know it’s always been my mum’s fear that we wouldn’t be that close together in childhood, just like she and her sister grew apart (before growing back together later). I think with the choices I make it’s inevitable, but there’s no enmity there.

I had great fun hanging out with Dad, Russ, Mike and Russ’ friend whose name escapes me just before I came back. We had a laugh and some drinks and fell asleep on Nanan’s sofa as soon as I got home.

Now, my Nanan and Grandad. I spent a lot of years living with them and being raised by them – all because of some family politics I wasn’t old enough to understand. Nonetheless, on Nanan’s insistence, that’s where I live when I come home to England. Nanan is a typical matriarch. She takes a vicious pride in taking care of her family. She over-feeds me, buys the thinks I like and loves me unconditionally. My Grandad is funny, good at word-games and has lots of opinions he’s likes to repeat. He does what Nanan tells him to do because he’s not stupid.

Lately, I’ve been a little worried about my Nanan. Last year she was in a car accident. The car was rolled, and though she was only cut and bruised a little, her friend (the driver) was killed right in front of her. She spoke to one mo her closest friends in her dying moments. She’s lost some weight and is more fragile than I’ve ever seen her, so I’m trying to send her only good news and stay in touch as much as possible. It’s tough, but I’m sure she’ll straighten out. She’s getting stronger, she was glad to have me home and she’s a scary Northern mother. She’ll be fine.

I’d like to end on a picture of my dad and I from my visit to England in April last year.

Thanks for reading. Next post is coming soon.