Dear Diary, I Can’t Get Sh*t Done, Am I Broken (Also: A Gig)

This is a post about when things go ever so slightly wrong and you can’t deal with them, because you PLANNED this and the plan was PERFECT and now everything is a DISASTER and…. what was this blog called again?

Yes. That. So.

I am ever so sliiiightly frustrated this week.

It’s half-term week. A week that, as special school teachers, we count the days to. Every so often, in that ten minutes before children arrive, we do the math of weeks and days and half-laughing, half-seriously say: can’t wait. Because the job is exhausting as well as f*cking magic, and beautiful and great. We count the days. We get tired. We get a week.

Being me, which means – set to productivity (a.k.a. a human brainwashed by capitalism, also ambitious and hungry for success); amazingly busy; with a lot of errands; – I made plans for half-term. Frankly, I made more plans than I knew what to do with. I made too many plans. I overplanned. But there were errands that needed doing, that I’ve been really dragging my feet about. I needed to buy glasses (done, FINALLY), do a blood test (nope, it’s been only 1.5 month now) and work on my citizenship stuff. Oh, and also, there was a gig.

As it happened, the week came to be dominated by The Gig. The gig in question was Sing It Wrong, a fantastic song parody night that I really wanted to do. I SANG TWO SONGS OKAY AND I AM SO PROUD, I DID A THING! First of all I sang about being in my thirties and looking for meaning of life, and I thought that it wouldn’t be funny, but it really was…:

I was in character as a silent, staring Pippi Longstocking-esque clown. Then I sang.

The second song was The Song – the one I was most scared of, most excited about. The one that I stayed up to edit the soundtrack for, the one that I spent over two hours writing the lyrics. I rapped to Missy Elliott’s Work It. Specifically, I rapped about Brexit. To Missy Elliott’s Work It. You read that right.

“Boys, boys, Tory boys….”

The gig was absolutely brilliant. It also threw my entire week plan off the cliff.

The first two days of half-term I got up at 8, did an hour of work on citizenship from 9 (okay, on Tuesday I did 4 hours, I got a bit single-minded) and tried to rest or get errands done for the rest of the time. But Tuesday night I stayed up to mess around with Audacity (yeah, my Missy Elliott track was creatively edited). So on Wednesday there was no early morning or citizenship work. I did go swimming though, so one win there. But then!

I COULDN’T GET OFF THE INTERNET.

In addition to my typical post-gig hangover (no, there was no drinking, just a slight emotional exhaustion), I wound up watching my videos all the time and sending them to people. Artistic self-promotion is really tiring (and it was also not in my plans at all), but I suddenly had this very strong and manic need for Everyone To Love This Thing I’ve Done, Right Now. I was bursting with it, and despite being embarrassed, wanted to share it ith everyone!

(…I get that way sometimes when something creative just WORKS. The high tends to be directly proportional to how excited and nervous I was about doing something (in this case: VERY). I just kept watching this person on the screen being seemingly super confident with her clown persona (video 1) or with her sexiness and dancing (video 2), moving the mic stand about purposefully to fit her needs (something that I actually don’t remember doing, that’s how automatic it was). I couldn’t conceive how easy it all looked on the screen – even though I was so nervous during the second song that I didn’t HEAR people cheering. If you watch the video, mid-song I am asking the audience to “give me some love”, because I physically do not perceive it at that moment. But at the same time, I am clearly inhabiting myself in this larger-than-life way and it’s facinating.)

But here we are on Saturday and… post-gig exhaustion persisted on Thursday: a social day when I had meetings with friends. It’s lucky it included someone cooking me breakfast….! Whenever I was not with humans, I was looking at a screen. I relaxed my normal social media habits, because of course you get excited about a gig video and it’s been awhile since I’ve had something fun to share! But it quickly morphed into reading about Brexit, about women being discriminated against in design and OMG ALL OF THE THINGS ON ALL MEDIA. MY BRAIN. OW.

Result: aside from my swimming class I did fuck-all on Friday. Well, except cooking and inhaling a large amount of food. Today (Saturday) I delayed leaving the house for two hours (and also slept eleven hours, what the hell). And now I’m writing the blog, not cleaning or doing laundry or whatever, because of all the things to do, this one was the most accessible. It is clear to me that I am tired. It is also clear that tomorrow’s date with Manbear (previously described as Gentleman Caller) will consist of me putting laundry loads in and dusting and things, and that’s kind of not how I pictured it.

Tally Of Frustration

This is the moment when I should probably stop myself and look at this week’s achievements. Look at me, being all mad because I didn’t clean and cook lunches. True: these things do matter in terms of setting myself up for a good working week (I think I have only one evening off!). But I’ve made considerable headway into my residence research, played a gig, chose a glasses frame (after months of dithering, because I didn’t like any of them. I just had to pick something in the end) and wound up getting some likes on the old Facebook page. Frankly, if I were in my depressed phase, making it to a swim class would definitely be enough of an achievement for one day! It’s just because I’m not, my expectations for myself are high. Too high maybe. Possibly the expectations don’t match reality very well.

In the end, half-term meant to be restful and all, I found myself missing my regulated work existence – 7 am wake-up, the same breakfast, the same hours. Waking up whenever and choosing a long-to-make breakfast is nice occasionally, but perhaps part of my anxiety is here simply because I’ve had too many choices this week. Perhaps at some point I’ll make like Obama or Jobs and have a set amount of the same clothing (I’m not far off with my work wardrobe). So it could be that the tally of frustration is here, because I had way too much choice and I need less of it. Go figure.

I’m still tired. And hungry. And a worthy human being even if today I struggled to get sh*t done. I have to keep writing to remind myself of that.

#TimeToTalk – #BreakTheSilence on mental health


It’s Thursday morning and anxiety is being a bit of a bitch. I slept badly – too cold, rough dreams – and struggle to make myself do things. I talk myself through it – through shower, nice breakfast, a bit of calming exercise – but I still fail at time management. I’m late. A bit mad with myself. Make that very mad. I don’t know what to do. 

I’m late to a very nice workshop that I attended last week too. It’s made for and by refugees and free (donations for food) and it makes me feel conflicted. Those familiar with my situation know that I’m not earning much and haven’t been for a while. It might change soon (fingers crossed), but doing anything nice that isn’t a gig (or otherwise directly career-related) makes me feel guilty. Nevermind that if I want to help refugees, here is the thing I can do – donate time, attention, workshop-leading skills and some English language conversation. So on top of all these feelings now I have being late, which is a particular emotional bruise – I’d say trigger, but who knows what could crawl out of the depths of the Internet to accuse me of being a snowflake? – and so, I struggle. To go or not to go.

After provoking an argument with one of my nearest and dearest (argument that didn’t need to happen, only I was so mad) I sit down with myself and hash out a solution. I’ll go to the very end of the event. Then I’ll have shown up but I’ll sidestep being late AND still
leave the house. The mental labirynth required here is still better than curling up with my phone, reading about politics for the rest of the day. I curled up for about an hour an a half, but it’s still a win.

This blog, Good Enough Diary, is a bit of an homage to writer’s block – after all, suffering writer needing something to kickstart
creativity is a figure we’re all familiar with. It’s harder to admit that I likely suffer from some species of anxiety mixed with previously diagnosed moodiness and depression. When I’m low, going out of the house is hard – but being around people tends to make me feel better. Conversation, speaking out, expressing – those things make me feel better. And yet it’s so hard to say this, what I’m saying now. It is so very hard. Yes, I have suffered from depression, but I don’t like even saying that. So many people have worse problems, worse bouts. I’m not self-harming, my self-neglect tendencies are presently manageable (mostly I tend to go the other way, making healthy food and such) and people with “real” problems would laugh me out of the door.

Except what is real? And why do I invalidate my own reality?

I’m currently on a no sugar diet (health-related), but if I’m not – an argument with my partner could be a box of cookies, or binge watching a show. I enjoy both of those things, but they can be abused as well. Externalising emotion, guilt, blame – and on top I’d rather say that I’m fine. English culture is not helping here – does anyone ever expect an honest answer to a “How are you?”. I don’t like to complain and when I’m sad, being candid feels like laying my problems at someone’s feet.

There, I’ve said it. Not all. People who know me as a chatterbox could likely be shocked by the presence of hidden depths. I talk a lot, but there are things held back, too. Things I’m scared to talk about, or reluctant. Ashamed. Like when I’m late or cancel, caught up in my brain, I often make a story up because I can’t bear to admit I’m feeling too low to struggle through the door. Or how I numb feeling by reading too much. Or eating, or watching. You throw stuff at feelings you don’t know how to deal with. I’m not alone in this strategy but it feels like I am, sometimes.

I’m reading a number of wonderful books (Brene Brown is a particular favourite) that make me realise that my problems are legitimate and I’m adding to them by my silence. By self-shaming. Well, I’m talking now. My problems are real, but their weight wouldn’t be so heavy if I wasn’t ashamed, if I didn’t feel alone, if I wasn’t scared that they make me unlovable. And I am a person with a significant support network. So if you’re reading this, please know that I love you and am grateful for you, just my brain was not socialised to treat me well.

We’re retraining, brain and I.

So now it’s time to apologise for the missed workshop. And later a friend will WhatsApp from Italy – she’s somebody with whom I can talk about all this. And it’s important, people – because you need to hear the right message again and again if it’s to stay in your brain, especially if your default setting is the opposite. If you’re set up for shame, guilt, invalidating your own emotion – if you can’t deal with sadness or anger or disappointment other than burying it under sugar or alcohol or Facebook – there can never be too many times to hear that you’re alright, you’re valued, you’re allowed to speak out.

Beautiful people, love yourselves. Learn to, slowly. Patiently. Time to talk. Time to talk. Time to talk.

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