10 Things I have learned over the last 6 months

Crikey, the first half of 2017 has been a real rollercoaster. Moving house, falsely accused and then absolved, extreme sports, getting accepted to college, finally getting some help with my mental health, and a failed relationship, and that’s just my personal life.

Brexit was finally triggered in February, Trump pulls the US out of climate negotiations, housing benefit was cut in the UK for people under 22, there’s been plenty of things in the news that have made a lot of people sad, so here are some positive things I’ve learned:

  1. Whilst not everyone agrees with you, you can still have amazing friends who may not be on the same page.
    Despite my Asperger’s Syndrome meaning that my brain works by logic mainly, I’m throwing my political weight behind the Labour Party for the June 8th General Election. This isn’t exactly what one of my best friends thinks is a smart move. His name is Joey, and although he’s from Ulverston in the Lake District (basically all of Cumbria and a bit of Lancashire), he’s voting for the Conservatives. Whilst I may not approve, we’ve had plenty of fun times playing and fixing old video games consoles.
  2. The biggest enemy of happiness and ultimately, recovery, is worry.
    When I worry, the niggles in the back of my mind, ranging from when I next get paid to the downright ridiculous, such as heavy rain in Lancaster making me charge everything electronic and portable. These niggles over the last few months have made me rather ill and caused a few big changes in my life. I’m back to not touching Alcohol, and I’m quite happy about that. The one thing I’ve learned is that worrying leads me to stupidity.
  3. Sharing resources, such as food or wealth when possible, is better than being selfish.
    Anyone who knew me before 2017 will quite happily tell you that I share nearly everything, except food or my first cigarette. In 2017, I’ve cut my smoking habit down to the point where it is now very nearly non-existent. I also get to know my housemates and new friends using the medium of food, which is often cooked and funded by me.
  4. Don’t stick in unhappy relationships.
    Another close friend, who wishes not to have her name used, recently escaped a relationship that was to be frank, toxic. I’m going to use a pseudonym for her to help explain. Sally was constantly being the perfect housewife, cooking and cleaning for her girlfriend, and being manipulated whilst doing it, as her missus was nearly always under the influence. She’s left the girlfriend now, moved away, and is living a much better life somewhere else. She’s much happier, and personally, it’s like Sally has finally come back to life. She was missed.
  5. Being impulsive is not a bad thing, what you do with it is what matters.
    I have Asperger’s, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. One of the things that this does is make me far more likely to be impulsive. To help combat my addictions, I’ve changed the way I respond. When an impulsive gnat in my brain starts to bite, I’ve decided to change the way I do things. I’ve swapped pints of beer with blogging, cleaning and running. Whatever I can to get the same adrenaline buzz, but without setting off the runaway train that tells me to drink.
  6. Don’t fight fire with fire.
    I’ve been accused by the police of doing something horrific and put on bail, but last month, was released without charge, as there was empirically not a shred of evidence. I had to move as a result of this, my mental health took a swan dive, and I’m attending weekly counselling sessions. What I learned was that despite my fury at this move, there was nothing I could have done during my time answering police bail apart from just wait. There was no point in being angry, as you can’t exactly go and pick a fight with the police for doing their job. There was no point in letting my anger control me.
  7. You don’t need antidepressants alone to fight depression.
    I’ve not had the best of mental health recently, as I explain in point six, but because of this, the doctors have had me on antidepressants to stop me doing something daft. However, they can dose you up enough to make you as dopey as a Labrador, but without your own effort, it’s useless taking them, no matter the dosages or strength of the pills. I used exercise and making conscious efforts to see things I found beautiful in order to beat my depression. Admittedly, isn’t worked all the time, but in the immortal words of Meatloaf, two out of three ain’t bad.
  8. Life is about learning and doing, as opposed to where you end up.
    In December 2016, I was looking at doing a social work related degree to get back to university and fulfil a promise I made to one of the biggest role models in my life on his deathbed. Now in June 2017, I’m looking at getting more Level 3 qualifications before going back to university, and doing a film production course at Kendal College in the UK in September. I’m really looking forwards to it, too. What this has taught me is that whilst getting the endgame is still the same, what matters more in life is how I do it. There’s no point in going back to my studies if I’m just going to flunk everything again.
  9. You are going to make mistakes, learn from them.
    I’ve made a few mistakes in my life- from pushing those closest to me away, to fudging up everything in my life and ending up homeless. Even now, although I live somewhere better, and am quite happily in a loving relationship, I make mistakes. Be it financial miscalculations or silly nights out that have proved unnecessary, I have made the mistakes. I’ve also learned to try to budget better, and avoid getting into conversations that lead to nights out. The only nights that are late for me these days involves musicals, movies or popcorn.
  10. Make time for yourself
    We’re all guilty of ignoring ourselves for a while, but what matters mostly is taking time to stop and think. Rash decisions often lead to bad consequences, and I’ve learned to be far more careful. Whether that’s shopping around for cheaper food or making sure certain people get higher priority than others (they know who they are), taking time out to make sure I’m doing the right thing is having a much better impact on my life.

What have you learned this year? Comment on my Facebook post, or just on here, as I’d love to hear from you.

Yours,

Davey

On Boris Johnson’s appointment as Foreign Secretary, and his misogyny

My last post on politics profiled the two people most likely to succeed noted pig-fucker and general arsehole, David Cameron, as Prime Minister of Great Britain. I got it right, Theresa May is now the second female prime minister in history. She’s made her first appointment, albeit a very tone-deaf one. She’s announced the leader of the Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson, as foreign secretary.

Oh Dear. Oh dear, oh dear (not to quote the Chuckle Brothers).

Boris johnson was the one guy you wouldn’t want in this role. Particularly when you consider the fact that we have a “special” relationship with the USA, and BoJo has gone on record, calling Barack Obama “part-Kenyan” and a “downright liar”. For such a gifted author, you would have thought BoJo would have picked up Obama’s autobiography (I have, and it’s a tremendous read).

This isn’t BoJo’s only gaffe, though. BoJo led a campaign of vitriolic lies that convinced the lower classes to vote with their feet, and we’ve fucked up our best chance of having a loud voice in the dinner party that is the world stage. He’s been doing it for years though, as he got sacked from The Times for fabricating stories at Brussels, he’s not been loyal to his own party (I always thought he was a bit socialist for a tory). He’s flirted with joining what became new Labour, as nearly joined the Social Democrat Party (SDP).

But there are more reasons: Johnson is a mysogynistic idiot. A buffoon, pretending to be a smart guy and an idiot simultaneously. He said in 2013 that the “only reason women go to university is to marry”. Let’s unpack that. There are many reasons women go to university, not least because it’ll give them a better chance on the job market and help break the glass ceiling that stands between the sexes in this country. It allows them to get better jobs, better careers and stand better in our society. What seems to be underneath this statement is an inherent misogyny, and one that has to be rooted out.

He’s blamed women for the rise of housing prices whilst guest-editing The Spectator:

‘The collossal expansion in the numbers of female graduates is in many ways a marvellous thing; but it has boosted the well-documented process of assortative mating, by which middle-class graduates marry middle-class graduates and thereby entrench their economic advantages, pooling their graduate incomes to push up house prices and increase the barriers to entry for the rest’

He’s said this, seriously: ‘Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3′. I’d like to check this diatribical soundbite out. There’s the obvious political sway, but that’s his job. Ultimately, he wants you to vote for the Conservative Party. There’s the obvious snootyness of it, basically saying that your partner’s breast areas aren’t pleasing you enough. Well, I don’t know about your lady, Mr. Johnson, but my lady is fine just the way she is. Finally, there’s the idea that to be a good man in his eyes, you must own a BMW M3. Now, as someone who has worked on crash sites on a motorway, I have this to say. Some M3 drivers I have seen drive like their 17, and yet they’re in their mid-fourties. With a gas-guzzling, high-powered saloon car, wearing sunglasses and a bluetooth headset. Simply put, some M3 drivers are pillocks I’d rather not be associated with.

He’s ranted before to The Daily Mirror and said this: “We seek cities because there are a greater range of girls at the bar, of reproductive choice. But above all, talented people seek cities for fame. They can’t get famous in the fucking villages”. Let’s analyse and explore that one. As a village boy in a small city in the North West, I agree with BoJo on the fact that there are a larger amount of women in a city. There are also a larger amount of supermarkets, schools, industry, amenities and transport links. The economy is both larger and stronger than a village, and this is just an abhorrent thing to say, especially to journalists, who will crucify you in worded format. And as for the fame bit, clearly someone’s never heard of Ed Sheeran, who hails from Hebden Bridge, in Yorkshire.

Simply put, BoJo should not be allowed anywhere near power. I rest my case.

 

Your illness is NOT your fault.

So, as frequent readers know about this already, to you I apologise. For new readers, I have a mild form of Cerebral Palsy and a moderate to severe form of Asperger’s Syndrome, which sits on the umbrella scale of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The reason I bring this up is that over the course of this week, my muscles surrounding my lower ribcage spasmed whilst I slept, leaving me quite weak and less mobile as a result. What I’ve found from this is that people always feel the need to offer you advice when this sort of thing happens. Seriously people are all like: “Well, if you ate less dairy/protein/gluten/meat, this sort of thing wouldnt happen”.

Let’s unpack that paraphrase. Firstly, I eat a perfectly healthy diet thank you very much. Plenty of protein, lots of dairy, lots of carbohydrates, fibre and Vitamin C. Secondly, there’s an implication that my illness, which is both serious and lifelong, is inherently my fault. Simply put: It isn’t and hasn’t been my fault. You cannot be the reason why something like this happens to you, save for you doing something incredibly stupid.

I don’t buy into the healthy food fad diets either: They’re good if you want to lose weight, don’t get me wrong, and I have a lot of friends who’ve lost considerable amounts of weight in short spaces of time using things like “weight watchers” and “slimming world” diets. Bully for them, but when a 6-feet-tall bloke who weighs just over 9 stones is having issues with his muscles not getting the right amount of nutrients, food and dietary issues may not be the problem here.

More to the point- I get that you’re just being sympathetic and trying to help, but this really doesn’t help. Offering to do something normal that I might find a bit tricky at the time helps. Listening to how I feel about what’s happened to me helps. Telling me that I’m living my life the wrong way doesn’t.

Rant over, normal service will resume tomorrow.

Alcohol and Me

So, this is me being completely honest with everyone who reads this. I am an acloholic.

There’s a lot to unpack there: Firstly, what is alcoholism? Simply put, it’s a disease/disorder of the brain where the subject/sufferer/addict cannot stop taking alcohol once they’ve inbibed or consumed it. This can cause emotional, psychological, situational and financial harm. I cannot count the amount of money I have spent on the stuff since I started drinking, all I know is that one is too much and a thousand is never enough. Once I start drinking, I cannot stop drinking at all, unless I end up in the back of an ambulance or worse.

Secondly, how did I become an alcoholic? Well, I’m sure everyone has a similar but slightly different story on how they became the way they are, but personally, I think I was born with an impulsive nature. This manifested itself as a child when I bought comic books with my pocket money instead of saving the money up and buying lavish items, like my siblings to me. This however, was an indication of a larger psychological problem: I read to escape. My world and my brain is so different to others that I simply cannot bear being with neurotypical people half of the time. My brain runs much quicker to that of normal people, that when people talk about normal stuff (what’s the latest celebrity sex scandal/ soap opera storyline etc) it drives me bananas. Seriously, it pisses me off no end. That’s why I drank. Under the influence of alcohol, which numbed everything around me, I could stand being around people for extended periods of time.

So, what have I done about it? I’ve gone sober. Completely. I wish alcohol will never pass my mouth again. Ever. To this end, I attend both Alcholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups in Lancaster and Morecambe. Tonight was my first AA meeting, and I’ve been blown away by the people there. I realised tonight that I am not alone in this: there are others with Asperger’s who drank to be around people, who drank to be sociable, but through the twelve step recovery programs, have managed to be sober. All I pray for now is that I become someone like them, who have stayed sober for years.

Notes on the big country- The USA Part One

So, for background-

I moved to Texas in the United States of America and lived there for 6 months in 2000. I was 10 years old at the time.

Can I let you in on something? Something I find absolutely hilarious?

The first time that our new neighbours came to visit, they drove. They genuinely got into their Chevy and drove the fifty metres to our house to say hello and welcome us to the neighbourhood. They were nice people, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they burned up fossil fuels to travel a short walking distance made us realise that we were in not just another country, but in another world.

The people were nice, don’t get me wrong. Texans are the most welcoming people I have ever met. They never like to see somebody hungry, and they are very relaxed people who have a mañana attitude most of the time. They just happen to have massive portion sizes. I have since visited the USA and let me tell you, even when compared to other states (I’ve visited New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida and California), the portion sizes are huge. What we’d call a large burger in the UK is what Texans would define as small! Well, to be fair, for the most time, this is true. Austin however, seem to worry more about their arteries and general health. Plus, their attitude towards keeping fit is better than it is in most places that I’ve visited in the USA. I unfortunately, spent most of my time in Houston.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. Houston has a brilliant mixing pot of cultures, and if you’ve never been there, I highly recommend you take a trip. Their food is awesome (if not GIGANTIC), the people are lovely (albeit mainly conservative Christian), and it never seems to be cloudy over there, just very hot.

I digress… getting a little off-topic here.

The one thing people had to get used to over there was my walking to and from school. Now the school I went to over there was less than a mile’s walk away from where we resided, but the first day, second, and pretty much every day of the school “semester” (funny word for term) people offered me a lift to school.

By far the funniest experience we had over there in regards to cultural difference had to be going to a cinema. For legal reasons, I shan’t mention which one, as I fear the person involved may still work there, and she turned out all right in the end.

We’d gone to watch a film (I can’t remember which one, due to the sheer hilarity of this event), had popcorn and everything. It was just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was about 25 degrees Celsius. The sun was shining, and the locals were wrapped up in coats and scarves. Overall, the day was a lovely one for anybody British in Houston.

On our way out of the Cinema (what was generally referred to as a Movie Theatre- I don’t know why when Houston ha got a theatre district that rivals Broadway), we cheerily waved at the person behind the ticket counter. Her eyes, normally small, went wide open. To this day, I have never seen somebody jump out of a booth as quickly as this twenty-something did. It was only eclipsed by the following exchange.

“Wow, don’t you have coats for those children, sir? It’s freezing cold outside! Oh, for god’s sake!” (She takes off her work fleece and wraps my little sister in it)

Before any of us could answer and explain that we came from England, and for us, this was a heatwave, she carried on.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! You have come to the movies in the middle of winter and not one of you is wearing a coat! Well, it’s all right for you (gesturing at my father, who was a big man, even by Houston’s standards), but what about the children! The tall one on the crutches (I have Cerebral Palsy, and needed to use crutches for most of my childhood) is so skinny! How on earth is he supposed to keep warm in shorts and T-shirts! Right, that’s it! I’m getting the manager!”

Reflecting on this, it has to be said that the woman had her heart in the right place, and we were grateful that she didn’t call the police, but it was still a stupidly over-the-top reaction for us Brits.

My father, who wasn’t exactly the master of diplomacy, held his hands up to get her attention, and politely explained about our nationality and the heat. For me, it was sweltering hot anyway. The woman, as soon as she’d heard our accents, became incredibly apologetic, and we became good friends for the rest of our stay. I still laugh about it, even today.

This is the end of part one, of which there will be several parts published in the oncoming weeks. I hope you found this as funny as we did.