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A Sort of Apology.

I feel I owe everyone who's read anything I've written for the past week or so a rather profound and massive apology. Unfortunately, the best you're getting at the moment is an explanation.

Lengthy stuff under fold )

So, apologies for the rather frequent brainos I've been having over the past week. I will try to do better, but first I need to get my brain back...

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Current Mood: stressed stressed
Dear Brain (IV)

Dear Brain,

Yes, okay, I was stupid today. This is not a reason to haul out the Failure Tapes and play them in full 3D and surround sound in the main auditorium of the Grand Ol' Embarrassing Recollection. Even if it were a reason to do so, we know, through extensive experimentation over the last forty-six years, hideous embarrassment and post-facto regret do not serve the same function as a time machine and make stupid things never have happened.

It will, however, make me feel very inclined toward things like opening up my own skull and removing you, piece by piece, using an ice cream scoop.

Extremely sincerely,


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Current Mood: cranky cranky
Dear Brain (III)

Dear Brain,

Yes, I know I've been horrible for the past couple of days. I haven't done the Right Things in the Right Order, because on top of everything else I didn't get functional early enough this morning to be able to do the dishes before the water got cut off[1]. Yes, Steve did the dishes. It wasn't because I am a Horrible Person Who Can't Do Things Right. It was because it was 8.30am, and the water was going to need to be turned off at 9, and I hadn't even started my breakfast by then, much less finished it. It wasn't in any way a critique of my ability to do the task in general, but rather a reaction to the way things were happening on this specific day.

Yes, I know there wasn't any laundry to do today. Steve did it all yesterday. Again, a reaction to one particular day, not a critique of my ability to do things ordinarily.

Yes, I decided to go shopping for groceries. Yes, the mall was noisy, and you were feeling on edge, so you decided to go straight to one overload, no waiting, and make me as cranky as all get-out. No, buying the Tim-Tams wasn't a Bad Thing to do, it was a reaction to the fact we're wanting comfort, and Tim-Tams are comfort food. Yes, I did have to spend more than $20 on fruit and vegetables, and no, this isn't going to bankrupt us. There were a lot of things which needed to be replaced (you may have noticed?) which is why this week it was a big spend. No, that isn't a critique of the fact it's been a bit over a week since we last shopped for anything. Things happen, and those things happening is not a judgement on us specifically.

Now, if you could just settle down and stop throwing a tantrum about everything under the sun, I would greatly appreciate the peace and quiet inside my skull so we can have a much-needed nap.


(owner of a brain which is currently a cranky toddler)

[1] The pipes in our area are being replaced, and the water board has asked us to please shut off the water to the house between 9am and 3pm, as well as drawing any water we felt we needed before that earlier.

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Current Mood: tired tired
Dear Brain (II)

Dear Brain,

Yes, I know I wasn't able to do the laundry. However, I contend that having the fscking washing machine break down is an acceptable excuse for not doing it. I have called a repair person, they're coming out on Thursday, and it was Steve's decision (completely unprompted by me) to pick up all the existing laundry and wash all of it at the laundromat. I've checked: he wasn't doing it to say "You're Useless And Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself (And Also Dead)". So do you think maybe you could kindly shut the fsck up on the matter?

I swear, that icepick is starting to seem attractive. Steve is suggesting I see about taking you back to the shop for a refund.

Sincerely (and exasperatedly)


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Current Mood: exasperated exasperated
Dear Brain,

Dear Brain,

Yes, I know I haven't Done All The Things and it's coming up for 8am. However, I have achieved far more than I would have this time two weeks ago, where I wouldn't have even got out of bed by this time. So how about you stop nagging me about stupid stuff, and I'll stop wanting to remove you with an icepick, okay?

Sincerely (oh, so sincerely)


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Current Mood: irritated irritated
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

I've been having this run through my head lately as a bit of an earworm - I blame an article from the Guardian which linked me to a video clip for it (a very early seventies video clip, it must be said - be warned). But in a way, this song has been haunting me on and off since I first heard it when I was about five or six, on the radio. It's such a frightening song.

Why is it frightening? Well, go have a look at the lyrics. Think about the sort of life they're describing - when a person's daily options are limited to "cleaning the house for hours, or rearrange the flowers, or run naked through the shady streets screaming all the way" there's not much in there. It almost makes remaining in bed dreaming about fantasy lovers and singing nursery-rhymes sound like a reasonable alternative. And then of course, there's the final verse and chorus.

You know, I'm not quite sure what becomes of Lucy Jordan, but I don't really feel the options are particularly positive either way. I mean, as far as I can tell, the options are she either walks off the roof and dies; or she escapes completely into psychosis and hallucination, and gets carted off by the nice men with the hug-me jackets.

(I love that the lyrics were written by Shel Silverstein - the man behind things like "Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "A Boy Named Sue". A prolific lyricist and a man with a very sharp and satirical pen).

I suspect part of the reason it's been haunting me lately is because I'm feeling in a sort of "Lucy Jordan" situation at present - it's the inter-semester break for me, so there's no real reason to visit campus. Instead, I'm sort of trapped in the pseudo-agoraphobia I wind up in sometimes, where I want to leave the house and Do Things, but I can't think of an adequate justification for doing so. This is part of why I'm always an on-campus student at universities - having the routine of lectures and tutorials means I have a reason to get out of the house, and something to kick me out the door on a regular basis. But without a Good Reason, I tend to remain in the house, in front of the computer, noodling around the internet. So, if there's anyone in my reading list living in Perth, Western Australia, who would like to meet up for coffee/tea or similar, just let me know and we'll set a date. (Semester 2 starts on 31 July. Any time before then is my own - and I'd really appreciate any help people can give in filling it up with at least a few reasons to leave the house around once a week!)

(For those who have already been in touch, don't worry, I'm keeping you in mind!)

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Current Mood: indescribable indescribable
Weekly Update 10 JUN 2017

Well, I finished editing the short story I needed to submit for my Introduction to Writing unit, and I submitted that on Tuesday (due day was Thursday, so I'm getting in ahead of deadlines, which is a nice habit to be building). Which means my study requirements for the first semester of 2017 are now officially complete, and I'm done.

The owner of our place came out on Wednesday to measure up the kitchen for new cabinets (from Ikea), and he also cleaned out the gutters while he was here. This involved a lot of rather wobbly work on top of a ladder, but at least we now have nice clean gutters which will hopefully not overflow onto the front verandah (front of house) or the bathroom window (rear of house) in the next heavy rainfall. Now all we need is the heavy rainfall to test things. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though we're going to get one of those any time soon. Best bet this week is possibly Wednesday, which is offering a 40% chance of about 0.4mm of rain. It's looking to be a dry winter this year.

In the wake of having finished all my study, I'm currently in a bit of a quandary about what to be doing with myself. I've wound up re-starting Villagers and Heroes (a free MMORPG) in the hopes of being able to use up a bit of the Copious Free Time I currently find myself endowed with (the problem with being on the dole is you wind up with lots of time, but not really enough money to actually do anything with it), although I'm running into my typical problem with these things - I've done the initial stages enough times to find them boring, but I can't be arsed to continue past the boredom to the point where I get to the interesting stuff. I may well start allocating myself a set number of hours of work in V&H per day, just to keep myself going through the dull bits.

Now, before anyone starts suggesting things I could be doing with myself during my downtime, can I just point out I'm a grown woman, and I'm posting these things more as an observation of how things are than a request for help. My inter-semester downtime will be lasting until the end of July, which means I have about a month and a half before I'm going to be back at uni again (classes start again on July 31). Don't panic, I think I can figure out how to entertain myself. If nothing else, there's two shelves of books waiting on their farewell re-read, and another few boxes of books in the storeroom which need to be opened and culled. I have plenty of stuff I can do. What I don't have (due to brainweasels and similar) is the impetus to do any of it. My brain is currently in mopey teenager mode at me, saying I'm boooored, there's nothing to dooooo, and when I suggest anything, it makes it very clear to me I've done the equivalent of suggesting cleaning my bedroom. Given I'm fast reaching saturation point with the inner teenager, I suspect things are going to be picking up soon-ish.

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Current Mood: lazy lazy
Update 03 JUN 2017

Well, I've finished classes for the first semester, I just have to finish editing the short story (which is due on Thursday coming up), which mostly comprises minor tweaks to try and make it a little less "stations of the canon" and "cast of thousands", and then I'm done. I have completed a semester at university (again). I've come out of this one feeling a lot more positive about things than I have in a while - I genuinely feel I could keep up study with this level of support and assistance, and I do think it's helpful having the Access Plan in the background, so I know if everything comes collapsing down at once, I just have to wave that and I can get the help I need. Having my specialist support group mentor to talk with as well was a great help - just knowing I have someone else I can vent to about things if necessary was a great relief. Means if I get to the point where my brain is tying itself into knots and trying to do Weird Shit with my executive function, I at least have someone I can reach out to and say "okay, help!" and I know they'll do that, to the best of their ability. It's such a reassurance.

The rental inspection passed without a hitch - our property manager is familiar with the place and with us, and knows we're not likely to try and knock the place down without provocation. She was okay with the idea of us requesting another twelve months in the property (she asked us to send her an email about it, so she had a record - so I did that), and hopefully some time in the next few weeks, we'll start dealing with all the paperwork needed to ensure the renewal goes forward. If we're really lucky, we won't see an increase in the rent, either - we're in a declining rental market, so I doubt the rent will increase by much (if at all). Also we have the owner coming around on Wednesday morning to measure up the kitchen for Ikea cabinets (the ones from the carpenter apparently cost too much or something). So, we may be getting a better kitchen out of all of this ... or not.

Eating and food related stuff below the fold )

What else has been happening? Oh yeah, I've been writing up a chapter by chapter summary of a particularly long story for another author - something to use as a writer's reference for what happened when, who appeared at what time, etc. Oh, and the weather continues wintery - cold and clear, rather than wet and miserable. Although we are in with about a 40% chance of wet and miserable today. But other than that? We're all fine here. How are you?

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Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
About "Should" and Mental Health

In the interests of my continuing mental health, I've had to banish a few words and phrases from my vocabulary. One of them is "should".

"Should" is a word which has disappointment built-in from the start. It's a word used to talk about ideal situations, ideal results, ideal worlds. As such, to someone like me with an anxiety disorder, it's essentially poison for the psyche. Because, you see, one of the things at the core of any anxiety disorder is this: we want the world to be perfect. Perfection implies control.

So to someone with an anxiety disorder (and this also includes the vast majority of people with depression, since the two conditions tend to be co-morbid to an astounding degree) a "should" is not a vague ideal to be used as a general directional indicator. Instead, it is a definite goal, which needs to be achieved (in order that the world be perfect). So phrases like "you should know better" or "you should be able to do better than that" or "I shouldn't need to tell you" and so on aren't just expressions of regret for one single instance - they are clear indicators that we have failed on a comprehensive level to achieve the goals set for us[1]. The world is imperfect and it's All Our Fault.

As you can guess, that kind of feeling doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels.

Then there's the other kind of "should" - the ones we tell ourselves, the ones which come with the invisible tag of "but I won't". "I should stay on this diet... but I won't". "I should Clean All The Things... but I won't". "I should do this disagreeable task... but I'm not gonna!". Again, not only is the world imperfect, and not only is this All Our Fault, but we're also unable to even rely on ourselves to do things. How hopeless are we?

(Something else which doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels).

However, banishing "should" (and its close cousin, "ought to") from your mental vocabulary is a hard thing to do at times. For a start, there's all the externally imposed "shoulds" - the expectations of parents, partners, friends, children, teachers, employers, co-workers, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers and so on. ("You should buy $PRODUCTNAME!") Plus there's all the internal ones, yelled at us by our jerk!brains on constant loop - including the ones which come up as part of the memory tapes bringing up old humiliations to dance on the stage of the Grand Olde Embarrassing Recollection to remind us of what we "should" and "shouldn't" be doing, or have done.

What's the solution to all of this? Well, the one which worked for me was basically stepping back from what I "should" be doing, and asking myself "what, realistically, can I do?" This one works particularly well for the memory tapes. Asking myself "okay, what am I able to do about this problem/issue, right here, right now?" tends to make the tapes suddenly grind to a glitching halt - because usually the answer is "nothing". I can't fix past mistakes from the present. I can make an effort to alter future behaviour, but other than that? There is literally nothing I can do.

This works well for other people's expectations of you as well. I have a lovely little icon (created by Copperbadge a while ago) which reads "Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles". If other people want you to do something, if they think you "should" be able to do it, ask yourself: "can I do this?" Are you physically, socially, mentally capable of performing the task they're asking? (This includes such things as "do I have the skills needed?", "do I have the available spare capacity?", "do I have the available spare time?" and, of course, "do I actually want to do this?"). If the answer is "yes", then perform the task. If the answer is "no", then tell them so - give reasons if the person asking is a reasonable person (unreasonable people don't deserve reasons for your answers, because unreasonable people can't or won't be reasoned with).

By bringing things back from the ideal world of "should" to the actual world of "can I, am I, do I, is this" you wind up being a lot more realistic about your own capabilities, and a lot less prone to stressing yourself out over things which are outside your own control.

[1] You'll note one of the apparent "goals" being set there is fully functional human telepathy. Nobody said the goals of a "should" were ever either realistic or achievable.

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
In Which Meg is Proven Correct (and takes smug satsfaction in the fact)

Item the first )

Item the Second )

So I'm having a nice quiet day of smug satisfaction at my own perspicacity. Given the rest of the day involves my jerk-brain telling me I'm useless, hopeless and won't achieve anything (to the point where I'm having to take photos of the housework as I'm doing it to prove the wretched thing wrong) it's nice for the external world to give me a bit of validation.

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Current Mood: indescribable indescribable
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