The Importance of Work

Things in my life are starting to pick up pace. R’s leaving date is coming closer and closer, it’s making me think a lot about life, relationships and careers.

I’m choosing not to go with R when he leaves. Instead I’m staying here to finish my degree.

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I don’t like being idle, I have to leave the house everyday or else I start to start to feel a little trapped. Sometimes it’s nice to curl up for a day but it gets old pretty fast. As much as I hate my job I’d go a little mad without it; I’m the kind of person who needs to work.

The more time I spend working a dead-end job, the more I become determined to get my degree to do something else with my life. I have lots of things that I want to try and I’m happy to keep my ideas for the future vague. Right now I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into a career.

Life experience is invaluable and can’t be rushed. The years I’ve spent studying on my own have given me such valuable experience, they’ve taught me independence and personal responsibility.

I could go with R when he leaves, but I wouldn’t be me if I did that. I need something to pour my energy into, I like having my days filled and busy. This year has been enough of a taste of that for me and I don’t want it anymore. My course finished a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been going out of my mind with boredom ever since! I’m so antsy right now, I think I must be driving R completely over the edge.

(On the plus side I’ve done a lot of writing and ploughed through some seriously dry history books.)

Getting out of the house and having a job, even a crap one, helps my mental health so much. I can’t even put into words the state I’d be in if I wasn’t doing anything. My job may be rubbish and (at times) a little degrading, but it gives me a sense of work and accomplishment. I love going and earning my own money and having that complete independence.

Work is essential for my mental health. I think it’s good for anyone’s mental health. Most of the time (depending on your job) it forces you to socialise, sleep and eat at regular times and get out of the house. I’m sure this epiphany is supported by studies undertaken by people far more qualified than I am, but personally it’s only just become clear to me.

So, thank you unnamed-supermarket-chain, for allowing me to maintain my good mental health for the last two years (two years?! Seriously, this was meant to be a summer job…) please give me lots of time off to go travelling this summer?

’til next time,
Wren x

Teaching Paganism

Happy Beltane to those who celebrate it!

Today I’m going to slip back into the old routine and have a little chat about Paganism.

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Recently someone who I went to school with got in touch with me to ask about Paganism. We never really spoke to each other in school, so it was a bit of a shock when he popped up in my inbox. I’ll admit that I was a bit hostile at first as I associated him with the crowd who used to bully me and so suspected an ulterior motive.

Talking to him about Paganism made me think about a lot of things, it was an interesting experience but I also found it very frustrating!

It seemed a lot like he couldn’t grasp the attitude that I had towards my faith. He asked me how you could ‘qualify’ as a Druid, what benefits that qualification would give you, how long you had to study for. My answers of ‘it depends’, ‘none’ and ‘a lifetime’ seemed to fly straight over his head.

He asked me why I decided to become Pagan… I mean, how was I supposed to answer that?! I didn’t ‘decide’ to become Pagan. I’ve always had the beliefs that I have now, but when I was eleven I heard about Paganism and realised that it described my beliefs. From then on I referred to myself as a Pagan. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to start believing in the Gods.

Yes, to some extent I decided to start actively practising my faith using ritual and meditation etc, but he didn’t seem to understand that when I explained it to him.

I tried very hard to be patient and understanding, he’ll go one way or the other with his quest for spiritual self-knowledge. He’ll either gradually understand what I’ve been trying to explain to him, or he won’t. I’m sure that I asked questions like he asked me I was first starting out. Some of the bigger concepts of faith come only with age and wisdom.

I don’t refer to myself as a ‘Druid’ because I don’t feel that I’ve earned that title. It’s a personal choice and maybe one day I’ll feel ready to use that term… but not now.

Faith, especially Paganism, is not about exams or titles. It’s about wisdom and life; I will never stop learning and growing, even when I’m an old woman I still want to be learning new things. My Pagan path doesn’t end when I pass some exam, or do a course. It goes on and on, even past my physical death.

I want to dedicate the rest of my life to learning about the Gods and my faith. Every day I grow older and wiser, life experience gives me intellectual and spiritual riches that can’t be rushed. In the modern world everything has a time limit, everything has to be obviously beneficial; we are shocked that the Druids used to take up to twenty years to train their pupils.

The way I see my faith is that I will never stop training or being a pupil… and I don’t want to. The moment I think I know everything is the moment I have nothing left to fight for.

I really enjoyed talking to someone about my faith, it made me see how much I’ve matured in the last nine years (yeah, it’s been nine years since I started calling myself a Pagan; isn’t that scary?) and how I can understand my faith on a deeper level than I could have ever imagined.

Time and life experience are invaluable; I gave the guy that I was talking to as much help as I could, but now it’s down to him to make mistakes and learn the hard lessons.

… And I’m definitely not in the running for the ‘teacher of the year’ award…

Blessings,

Wren x

In Which Things Go Wrong…

I’m having one of those days where I know what I’m going to write on Friday, Monday and probably next Wednesday… but I have no idea what to write today!

Are life updates acceptable?

Well, I’ve started taking driving lessons and am swatting up for my theory test- if anyone wants to share driving test stories then you’re more than welcome- so I’m at last starting to get that item ticked off my list of ‘things to accomplish in 2015′ and I feel a lot more positive about things.

Me and R are trying to plan out when we’ll get to see each other this summer- but that’s proving easier said than done. It’s going to depend a lot on his housing situation, something that might be pretty complicated.

Also, remember I was talking about the play I was in? Well on Tuesday our rehearsal got cancelled- something’s messed up with our paperwork and our rehearsal venue has pulled out. So now we have the threads of a play, no venue, no rehearsal space and no money. Welcome to acting.

There’s a really strong chance that we’re going to have to scrap the play, which would suck majorly but right now there’s not a lot of options left. Things keep going wrong and if we can’t even rehearse then there’s not much point in trying to continue. I’m trying to stay calm, not get upset and just leave it in the hands of the Gods. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go ahead and they know the best decision to make.

I’m feeling good because I’ve finished at work for the week and secured time off to go travelling this summer. I won’t get paid for the month I’m taking off to go across the ocean but I didn’t expect to; I’m just glad I can keep my job. (Not because I like or enjoy my job in any way, but because it’s easy and pays well and I really can’t be bothered to look for another one.)

In positive news, I’ve started messing about with a short story and am slowly sinking back into the writing routine. Right now I feel very free and inspired.

I’ll leave you with the news that this Friday will be a Pagan Friday (I know, it’s been a while) and the piece of music that’s been stuck in my head all week:

’til next time,

Wren x

Can I Ever Escape Self-Harm?

I got the urge again last week.

I haven’t felt that strange, burning itch to hurt myself in a long time. Last Monday night it came back, it lodged itself into my stomach and refused to let go.

Being the sensible and mature woman that I am I responded to this urge by crying my eyes out into my old teddy-bear. It was really frightening, I felt like I’d been thrown backwards five years into the skin of my insecure teenage self.

After picking over what happened with R the other night I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m struggling with control right now. I used to self harm for many different reasons; but one of the main ones was control. I was very depressed and I felt like my life was being controlled by people I hated, school was a miserable environment for me; but I couldn’t escape from it.

Recently I’ve been feeling very out of control, my life is changing and horrible things are happening that I have no control over. I think that’s why the old urge came back again, there was nothing else that I could do and my mind immediately offered up SI as a solution.

Another thing that I’ve been having problems with is intimacy. I haven’t had great sexual experiences, in fact, they’re so ‘not great’ that I can’t actually bring myself to talk about them on here. Maybe one day I will- but right now it still feels too raw.

When I get stressed and feel like I’m not in control the last thing I want is someone touching me, I’m happy to give touch and love- but I just want my own space and my own body to remain my own.

At the moment I’m trying to stay calm, rationalise what’s happening in my brain and work around it. The whole thing is a little frustrating and scary- I feel like I’m broken sometimes, that I can’t get over my knee-jerk reaction of panicking.

Self harm isn’t the problem, it’s a mechanism to cope with the problem. I don’t self harm anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I’m fine- it means that my control issues just get expressed in a different way. I think that different way is avoiding intimacy and sex.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do to fix this problem; to be honest, realising it and talking to R about it has already helped a lot, so I think I’m just going to try and be mindful of what’s going on in my head. Also, I’m essentially trying to write a blog post about sex without giving too many details of my sex life… sorry if I’m just coming across as frustratingly vague.

Sometimes I feel disconnected from the Wren who couldn’t get out of bed and cut herself in the school toilets between lessons; then things like this happen and I realise that we’re the same person. It feels like a strange mixture of fear and nostalgia- I don’t know which one worries me more.

’til next time,

Wren x

Updates on Acting

I know that some of my recent posts have been leaning towards personal, and away from anything intellectual; such as religion, feminism or mental health. Right now Mentalist Monday is the only thing I’m consciously trying to keep going. The next couple of months are going to be crazy, so I’m trying to take the pressure off myself; as well as that, they’re going to be very emotional and I started this blog to vent.

Essentially, I don’t know what I’m writing here; I’m just trying to give you a heads up that there will be posts three times a week, Monday will still have a mental health theme, but the other two will just be focussed on whatever I’m thinking about- I hope you’re okay with that?

I recently wrote about the acting project I’ve gotten involved in. Originally it was a production of ‘Coriolanus’ for a theatre company who had been booked to perform at the RSC. Well, the RSC booking fell through (welcome to the performing arts industry…) and we had half the cast disappear.

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We were kind of left in a bit of a depressing situation, however, we were all having such a good time that we didn’t see why the fun had to end. We found another script, it was originally written by a friend of the director so we can mess about with it and we don’t have to deal with royalties, and we’re planning to tour it about this summer.

If any of you are in the UK and love theatre then watch this space! Fuck anonymity, if you want to see it I’ll tell you where and how.

I’ll admit it, I had low expectation for the script- but it turned out to be pretty amazing and very funny, so I’m now incredibly pumped up about the whole experience. Plus I’ve gone from a minor part in Coriolanus to a main part in this (and a bloody good main part too) so I’m over the moon.

Next week our director’s going to be away, and despite only knowing me for a couple of weeks he’s put me in charge of rehearsals. In the next week I have to edit down the script, cast two members of the company, decide on the staging and block the entire play.

To put this into perspective, this guy has known everyone else in the company for about a month longer than me; we’re only even had one conversation just between the two of us, and he’s put me in charge of the project and given me ultimate power for a week.

When I went to the Stage School of Hell last year I had my confidence completely broken down. I left there and couldn’t even think about acting for almost a year. When I first did a monologue in front of my now director I was terrified- but it went fine.

Slowly I’m working through what happened during my year at the SSoH. I’m trying to ease myself back into performing and remind myself why I loved it. Everything good about it was killed whilst I was at that place and I feel so sad about it.

I’ve done a decent amount of directing, it’s something that I greatly enjoy. Sadly, the attitude at the SSoH was that of ‘if you’re not the best at this, you’re not allowed to do it’ and one of the people in my group worked as a teacher- so she was obviously always in charge of organising and directing and no-one else got a look in. That attitude made me feel so useless and crap.

Now I feel like I’m completely back in my element. Someone who doesn’t even know me that well has deduced that I have my head screwed on right and can be trusted. I feel empowered and really happy in myself; I’ve spent this afternoon breaking down the script into bullet points (it’s a looooong script) so that we can easily go through it, change plot points and edit in our next rehearsal. Currently I have my tea on the go and then I’m planning to jot out some ideas for staging.

It’s been a strange and crazy week, but right now I feel really content.

’til next time,

Wren x

Adventures in Dentistry: Or; I Explain Why I’ve Been Cranky and Absent

I have absolutely no idea what or why I’m writing this.

It’s midnight where I am. We went to bed at ten and I’ve been tossing and turning ever since, I felt like such a shit because I was keeping R up and he has to get up at five for work. Right now I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t wake up, if he does he’ll realise that I’m not there and come out to look for me; I just want him to get enough sleep before work.

My essay got sent off last Friday, but ever since I seem to have replaced that anxiety with another one.

I’m having a lot of dental work done at the moment; it’s cosmetic and my choice, so I can stop whenever I want to… but I’m so torn.

Basically, 90% of my teeth are where they should be, but the 10% that aren’t are REALLY fucking out of place (basically a representation of everything else in my life), and there’s a small problem with me having wonky teeth…

… I’m scared of dentists.

As in properly, vomiting, crying uncontrollably, sleepless nights and nightmares kind of ‘scared’.

Okay, so I’m scared of dentists, that’s one issue with this whole thing- the other?

Well, I should preface this by saying that I am one of the least squeamish people you’ll meet. I can deal with blood, broken bones, vomit, even burns. For a book I’m writing I spent a summer researching facial disfigurement and the advances of plastic surgery during the First World War. Trust me when I say that any remaining ‘squeamishness’ got beaten out of me pretty quick. However, like everyone I have an Achilles heel:

Metal + teeth makes me vomit.

It’s the strangest thing, I think the orthodonist didn’t quite believe me when I told him but I had a hygienist appointment on Monday and she tried to clean my teeth with some crazy looking metal hook… that shit lasted roughly three seconds before I lurched forward and started dry-heaving into a handful of tissues for about five minutes.

The good news about my teeth is that I can have a removable, PLASTIC (thank the Gods!) brace. (Invisalign, for the dental geeks out there). The bad news is that I have an overbite, and to correct it they’re going to stick some really fucking scary metal crap in the back of my mouth (known as ‘Advansync’ to the dental people out there). It’ll be hidden from everyone, but I have to look at and feel it… and did I mention it’s METAL??!

It’s a mark of how much my teeth make me feel self-conscious that I’m even considering going ahead with this crazy crap.

The Invisalign is the part I’m 100% okay with; in fact, I’m actually looking forward to getting the bloody thing- I’m just shitting myself about the Advansync. It’s genuinely like someone peered into my nightmares and crafted a device that would shit me up in all imaginable ways. My favourite quote is ‘the universe has a sense of humour’ for a reason. Someone, somewhere, is getting a right laugh out of all of this.

Don't worry, I'm not going to subject you to pictures of teeth.

Here’s Scarborough; don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to pictures of teeth.

Sorry, did you think the dental problems were going to end there?

Nah, this is me- dental problems are an ongoing thing.

My fear of dentists comes from having a lot of dental work done when I was very young. My wisdom teeth came through super early and so they had to extract some of my molars (this is what I was told, I just know I had molars extracted- but I was about ten so it’s all a hazy nightmare). I think that scarred me for life.

Anyway, I’ve been taking the first steps towards getting this torture device fitted (because I was clearly dropped on the head as a child and lost all common sense). Which includes them sticking bits of rubber between my back teeth to create spaces for it.

And, because it’s me- there’s a small issue.

I have a few fillings in the teeth that they’re trying to work with, and those filling have left me with very little space between the teeth- I mean, I struggle to get floss down there- so I have to go back to the bloody dentist tomorrow (today) for them to have another go. Have I mentioned that this process is painful??!

And (yeah, I know- I’m still not finished!) I have a dodgy filling. Basically, it was a very small filling, but ever since it was done I’ve been unable to bite down on that tooth without getting a sharp pain (and people wonder why my fear of dentists is getting worse) and this was one of the teeth they stuck the rubber next to.

I lasted 32 hours before pulling it out (the rubber, not the tooth… I’m not the bloody Hulk) I tried to tough it out but every time something touched the piece of rubber (which is bigger than my tooth. Don’t ask me how I’ve been actually chewing food… it’s a mystery to me) I was in extreme pain. It got to the point where I could even swallow without causing the rubber to move and therefore making me cry with pain. So I pulled the damn thing out.

And yes, I’m aware that ‘rubber’ means ‘condom’ in American. I hope those from across the pond are enjoying themselves right now. 

Tomorrow morning I have to put my big girl pants on, forego the mascara and prepare to be poked and pulled about. I have no idea if they’ll be able to offer a solution for my tiny mouth and dodgy filling, but hopefully a resolution will be worked out that causes me minimal pain…

… yeah right.

’til next time,

Wren x

 

An Open Letter to Cameron, Clegg and Miliband

Something is happening that is making me both very happy and a little worried.

The election campaign is rolling on, it’s only a couple of weeks now until we have to make a decision about which way we’re going to vote.

So far a lot of politicians have been making a lot of promises about mental health, and what you would do to help those with mental health problems if we vote you into power. Firstly, I want to thank whoever gave you the idea of pushing mental health issues. It’s incredibly gratifying to see mental health being actually talked about openly, it seems like the incredible lack of funding for mental health problems is finally being recognised.

The way that mental health care has been swept under the radar for such a long time is shocking, and with a rise in mental health problems (or at least people being open about their mental health problems) it’s an issue that can’t be ignored any longer.

Secondly, I want to stress that I hope you keep your promises; obviously, you’re politicians- so I’m not hoping for too much- but I hope that you understand that raising the hopes of a group of people who desperately need help and have been ignored for a long, long time. You have a real chance to help quite a large minority, and you’d better get it right.

And thirdly, if you do start to implement measures to improve mental health care you’d better think about it. Throwing money at the problem won’t help, you need to step back, think and consider things properly.

Talking about mental health breaks down the stigma, but the words that you’re saying won’t be enough to make real changes to the lives of people who suffer. If you’re going to talk about mental health and use it to get yourselves votes you’d better be prepared to make good on your promises. If you can’t do that, then stop trying to use mental illness to gain popularity.

’til next time,

Wren x