Winning Little Battles

This morning I got an email reminder about something I owed a payment on, and it was was all “GRRR ARGH WHERE’S MY MONEY BITCH OR WE’LL SEND THE BAILIFFS ROUND” in its tone. Okay, it wasn’t at all like that in real life, but in my anxiety-prone brain that’s exactly what I heard and saw. I threw my phone under my duvet and got up to make tea, ignoring the horrible tension in my stomach and noise in my head.

I'm in there somewhere.

   I’m in there somewhere.

This is normally where the story would end, me being an ostrich of the highest order when it comes to being able to tackle regular adult trials and tribulations. I’d ignore everything and dread turning my phone on each day, wondering when I’d get a note under the door to let the bailiffs in, and other such catastrophic consequences, the thoughts of which would make me nauseous and say goodbye to any peaceful nights of slumber for the foreseeable future.

However, this wasn’t 2013 J-Ro. Heck, it wasn’t even 2014 J-Ro. This was ‘Straight Outta 2015 and Right Into 2016’ J-Ro; a woman who reads an email like that and thinks “I’d better sort that ASAP”. Well, about an hour after that thought I got it sorted. I’m not perfect.

Would you believe that all I had to do was call and update my card details? Would you believe that I knew that in advance of making the call? Furthermore, would you believe that despite having the card details and the finances at hand to get back up to date (my previous card had been hacked so I had to get a new one which put the brakes on my entire internet life), I STILL felt almost completely paralysed at the thought of sorting it out? If your answer to all these questions was a resounding YES, then congratulations – you’re almost fully versed in the machinations of a brain riddled with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Either you know it personally, or know someone it affects. Some craic, innit?

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Anyway, I digress. I took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and spent a whopping two minutes with a very pleasant young man called Daniel who laughed at my ramblings as he updated my card details and basically sorted what was actually a COMPLETELY TINY INNOCUOUS VERY FIXABLE ISSUE. By the time the kettle was boiled for my self-congratulatory cup of tea, I had completed a basic adult task that would make no more difference to a regular grown-up’s day than wiping one’s arse in the loo. And I was SO PROUD of myself. For the first time in years, adulthood and I were on friendly terms.

Only I would really understand how far I’d come since what I call The Bad Time. Back then, I was completely broken. The phone ringing would have triggered a massive anxiety episode, letters arriving in the post would make me feel sick. Any appointments I had to attend sent me into spirals of terror and insomnia. To put it mildly, I was fucked.

fucked

Nowadays I’ve (mostly) settled into the driving seat of my brain, and those days are hopefully behind me. I’ve done countless regular adult-y things since then obviously; I know this because (a) I’m not homeless and (b) I smell fairly okay on a daily basis – I think. But today, I used this opportunity to take stock at how far I’ve come the last few years in terms of recovering from The Bad Time. The details of what / how / when / where / who was involved my recovery are for another time, but this post is about acknowledging victory over the little battles in life, so that by doing so, you can avoid an all-out psychological war with yourself. Again.

It’s nice to evaluate where you are in the world every once in a while. Apparently today is World Compliment Day as well, so fuck it – I may as well pat my own back as well as all the backs of all the poor souls who call me their friend and did whatever bit they could to, quite literally, keep me above ground when I could barely drag myself out of bed or up off the floor. Y’all know who you are. I’ll be coming to a hug near you very soon.

So if you’re up against the little battles, keep going. One at a time. And cheer the fuck out of yourself as you conquer each one. Don’t be looking at the status of others; if all you can handle right now is opening a bill without becoming short of breath, then that’s all you can do. Ask a friend to hang out with you while you do it. Seriously. Make a party out of it. Involve Tayto sammitches and tea if it’ll help. Whatever shit you need to do to slowly plug back into the world, DO THAT SHIT. You’ll be glad you did. In time, you’ll be writing a post just like this, with memes and all.

Fingers crossed, I’ll still be doing it too. See you there.

J-Ro

<3

Not Just An Annual Feeling…

Here’s the thing about marking the anniversaries of people who have died; the date is more for the outside world to give you a pass on an outpouring of grief. I feel the same way today as I did the day my Mom died; I’m just allowed to show it on the outside today far more than any other day in the year. Our grief has got to be as pigeon-holed, socially speaking, as any other of our human emotions. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sure there are times when anyone in a state of grief has wanted to throw down & bawl like an abandoned toddler for the gaping cavernous loss they feel when someone in their immediate world has died, but society being what it is has dictated ‘Thus Far and No Further’ when it comes to public grieving…lest it make others uncomfortable. Fuck that. Being human is to be bereft when a connection is broken.

It’s not a judgement by any means; rather an observation. The world would not function if we all gave in to our base instincts to keen and moan 24/7 for the loss of our loved ones – rather this post is to remind us that even if only show our pain but once a year, it remains hidden the other 364 days in the calendar. It is no less sorrowful or aching to the soul; it’s just that on an anniversary, we are permitted (by ourselves & others) to grieve aloud once more. We are all dealing with a pain on some level – our duty as fully functional humans in today’s modern society is to realise that nothing is EVER what it seems. It may be acceptable for someone to grieve loudly & publicly on a certain date; that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t living with that gaping pain today as freshly as the day their whole world became one perfect soul less.

My Mom is gone 3 years ago today. What I feel in 2016 about losing her is no less emotionally crippling than the day I watched her slip away as we held her hand & bore witness to her transition. It’s still raw, debilitating and terrifying. I have felt those since the day she died, and I’ll feel it all until the day I join her in the ground. But today the Universe has given me permission , on the basis of the calendar being favourable, to deal with it however way I want.

So if anyone’s looking for me this Sunday, I’ll be with my other similarly grieving family members having dinner, sharing stories about the O’ Donnell – Ronan Matriarch that make us laugh & cry in equal measure, getting drunk at varying levels of appropriateness to deal with the relentless unsympathetic passage of time, culminating with a final salutation; honoring how long we’ve had to function without her, how we’re all doing great despite the gaping hole in our souls where she and her unique madness should be.

It’s a rotten toxic crippling bucket of shite, because my Mom SHOULD be here, enjoying her later years with her girlfriends / hobbies and, if there was any justice in the world, a decent man to have a companionship with. But instead we have a grave to look upon, a name to send upwards, a universe to lay to rest in the blackness. So please excuse me if today I crumple up like tin-foil & keen from the bottom of my toes to the top of my manic little head. Someone else will have that liberty another day.

“And on it goes, this thing of ours…” – Paulie Walnuts, The Sopranos

Mental Health Adventures: Confessions of a Dermatillomaniac

I’m writing this post on the back of a very shitty sleepless night, borne by a downward spiral of anxiety from somewhere deep within the pit of my brain. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks dealing with what for me is one of the biggest, and most visible, symptoms of my anxiety disorder.

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Not For The Faint Of Heart…

I just woke up from the most distressing nightmare.

I was at some sort of get-together at a family friend’s house and when it was time for the usual tea & sammitches I went to the crowded kitchen to get some grub and a hot beverage.

Over by the fridge some mucky-faced young wan was guzzling milk straight from the carton before handing it over for the tea, and a germy young fella with dirt-encrusted hands & fingernails started rifling through the only plate of sandwiches, manhandling each one & opening them up to see what filling they had, only to put them right back on the plate.

I woke up screaming. Food hygiene is nothing to joke about.

TRAUMATISED.

J-Ro Goes To Portland…Part 6

Meanwhile, the adventure continues…

The Monday of the trip was dedicated to only one thing: books, glorious books. Today, it was just me, my debit card, and Powell’s – the largest independent chain of bookstores in the world. And wouldn’t you know, it happens to be in Portland. Even better, so was I. My loins girded, I set off with the last of my data allowance on Google Maps to guide the way, and within a few minutes I was standing at the gateway to Nerd Nirvana:

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Click on the pic to head to my Instagram!

Now THIS is the best way to spend a Monday. Losing yourself in a bookstore like this is one of those natural antidepressants that should be used at least once a week for best results. You don’t need money, just wander through one in your locality, or if you’re abroad, keep the eyes peeled. They’re just magical. If you’re looking for a list of the coolest independent bookshops in the world, then click here to find out where these literary wonderlands exist.

Powell’s is just amazing. There’s so much to look at in there, I was briefly paralysed with sensory overload. I know myself, the visit I paid there on that Monday barely did it justice. I actually couldn’t bear to look everywhere, lest I collapse in a puddle of Want. I walked past the Graphic Novel section with my hands over my eyes chanting “NONONONONONONO” as I passed, because I knew my suitcases were already at the required rate, and I hadn’t even included the two bagfuls of books I was carrying at that precise moment to the register. I’m going to have to go back. I know this now.

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Sure who DOESN’T love those two things together? Follow me on Instagram: @_jayrow_

In addition to an absolute wonderland of literary delights, they also have a coffee shop within their hallowed walls, the clever bastards. So in between spending your entire wage packet and rainy day savings on all manner of books, you can sit and be refreshed with the finest of hot tasty beverages – and, this being Portland, there are many organic / artisan / hand-woven / wished-upon-a-star-spun-with-gossamer-warmed-with-the-thighs-of-a-virgin-handmaiden herbal chai mocha-frappo-lattes to choose from. At the very least, while you contemplate where your mortgage payment is coming from while looking at your newly-aquired pile of old and new publications, you won’t be thirsty. I’m not even counting the masses of tourist tack and souvenirs you have to wade through to get to the good stuff, or indeed the Portland-themed products (which I spent a good portion of my holiday money on) that tempt you from the stalls. Exercise caution, ladies and gentlemen. For, as Yeats once said, “Tread softly because you tread on my rent.” Or something like that.

I’ll leave you with a gif that gives me a tingle right in the literature. BOOKS, GLORIOUS BOOKS….TOUCH THEM…TOUCH THEM ALL…

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