Why I’m A ‘Mentalist’

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll have probably noticed how much I like to use the word ‘mentalist’ to describe myself and others with mental health problems. I’m generally quite cautious when I use this term- it does sound a little offensive and I do use it sparingly, but it’s my favourite work to use when talking about mental illness and it’s the first word I would use when describing myself.

I like it because it feels offensive- it’s like how a lot of woman are starting to embrace the word ‘slut’ (but maybe not to the same kind of extent) I think a lot of the time I feel like I have to normalise my illness, I have to play it down an pretend constantly that I’m like everyone else and that I’m not a threat, but sometimes I get sick of that. I just want to be honest and open about it, I want to embrace it

Hence mentalist.

I just love the word- I was explaining this to my brother the other day, ‘mentalist’ sounds like ‘mutant’ or ‘magician’ or something else cool and empowering. Whilst ‘mentalist’ is British slang for ‘a mental person’ its primary definition relates to magicians (especially people like Derren Brown, who is just every single kind of awesome.)

 I also love the fact that it takes away the ‘illness’ part. I’m not ill, I’m not weak or sickly or a victim… this is a part of me, a bloody major part and I’m not going to lie or gloss over or glamorise it.

I can understand that some people might not feel the same, there is something about the word that’s harsh and offensive sounding- personally I think it’s an awesome word I’m so sick of everyone else throwing labels and health related words around, it’s my life and I have to live with these things, they’re how I’m introduced and how people see me and if I have to have a label then I’m going to bloody well choose it for myself.

This is my life, I’m Wren and I’m a mentalist.

’til next time x

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Pagan Music

 

As it’s Friday I’ve decided to chime in with some Paganism- this week I thought I’d take a break from the wordy articles and try something a little bit different…

Here’s a quick look at ten great Pagan bands/artists and their work!

1) OMNIA

2) Faun

3) Faith and the Muse

4) The Dolmen

5) Damh the Bard

6) Inkubus Sukkubus

7) The Moon and the Nightspirit

8) Cernunnos Rising

9) Loreena McKennitt

10) Pagan Piper Project

There are LOADS of bands I’d want to add… but I hope that you get some inspiration from these! I was very strict and only included bands/artists that are actually Pagan and make music about Paganism.

Blessings,

Wren x

 

 

And Now For Something Totally Different: Men and Relationships

 

So, apparently when a young man showers you with attention, asks if you have a boyfriend, kisses you when you say you don’t, spends hours cuddling and talking to you, states plainly that he isn’t interested in any other women and then hangs on your every word the next time you see him it means that he isn’t interested in a relationship with you at all.

 

Yeah.

 

That was MY reaction too.

 

I like to think that I’m as straightforward as possible (for a woman) when it comes to my relationships, I don’t play games and I keep things honest and up-front. I make it clear what I’m looking for and expect the same basic clarity in return, so it’s incredibly frustrating when I end up stuck in a quagmire of men and their ridiculous thought processes.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very familiar with casual flings, one-night-only arrangements and the like, it’s not something that I get squeamish about or pretend not to have had experience with.  I know when a guy only wants to have sex, and I’m blunt and open about that, I don’t see any shame in it. I’d rather that than be the stereotypical woman being lead up the garden path and used for sex. I own my body and I own my sexuality.

 

Knowledge of these kinds of relationships means that I know when something isn’t like that, I know when a guy wants more than that and if I like him and get on well with him then I’m happy to give it a go. After about six months of being reckless and single I’m starting to feel like it’s time to try a relationship again. The problem that I’m having is that I’m far too happy to compromise- which is fine for a casual fling, but not for something meaningful. In order to try and ease me off my ‘he’s shown interest in dating me- WE’RE SOULMATES!’ mentality I thought I’d come up with a list of qualities that the guy I date will have to have before I commit to a relationship with him:

 

1)      He has to be mature enough to deal with my baggage- this is the big one, not just for me but for anyone with awkward baggage. I haven’t told any of my boyfriends so far about my mental health issues, I don’t think there’s really a brilliant time to do it… but this is a topic I could go on about for a while so I’ll save it for another post.

 

2)      He has to get on with my friends. I’m one of those people who is closer to their friends than their family, so this is a HUGE issue for me. As well as this a lot of my friends are strong, independent ‘marmite’ like people (you either love or hate them…) and my guy would have to respect them and not fall into the ‘oh God he’s such a freak!’ trap.

 

3)      Respect and embrace my dress sense. When I start dating a guy I usually tone down my ‘I escaped from the set of Foyle’s War’ look in order to make them like me… I really, really shouldn’t do this! It makes me feel crap and false and it’s such a part of who I am that the guy who I’m choosing to be with needs to not only be cool with it but EMBRACE it!

 

4)      Be a good, fast communicator. It sounds really stupid, but after the way my last relationship ended (really, really badly…) I need guys to text or message me back promptly (when they can and within reason) I don’t want to be waiting for hours and hours for a response to a simple message. Add to this that I HATE HATE HATE communicating via technology (this coming from a woman who writes a blog… yeah, I never claimed to make sense.) I would so much rather speak to someone face to face. I only like to use technology to arrange meeting face to face or to quickly check in with someone to see how their week’s going if you’re not able to see each other.

 

5)      HE’s NICE! I heard that a good trick is to watch how the man/woman in question behaves around shop assistants, waiters, other people in the service industry. They have to be kind, thoughtful and polite- the one thing I pride myself on is my niceness and so I need a man to match.

 

 

 

I could probably squeeze out a few more points if I really thought about it, but these are the ones that jump to mind immediately. Hopefully so long as I keep these basics in mind next time I’m thinking about dating a guy I’ll steer clear of people who I can’t have a fulfilling relationship with and end up with a lovely, caring and genuine bloke…

 

Yeah, easier said than done…

 

As always feel free to leave thoughts, comments and tips of your own!

 

‘til next time,

 

Wren x

 

Mental Illness vs Acting

In acting technique class the other day we learnt about something called ‘circles of focus/attention’ the idea is that your circle of attention can be large or small, it can cover just you or part of the stage, or the whole stage… etc, etc.

We experimented with making our circles of attention larger and smaller, we even ended up walking around Harrogate town centre at about 8pm without coats (it was cold, believe me it was bloody, bloody cold) practising.

It completely threw me.

I found it almost impossible to snap out of being in my smallest circle of attention (one that was just me) I was totally spaced and detached and the others in the group commented on this. At one point I went and stood by one of the windows in the studio and just stared out, unable to communicate with anyone else. I felt tearful and shaky and just really, really crap.

I know myself well enough to know where this comes from. I’ve spent most of my life detaching and trying to be invisible. I used to completely detach a lot when I was very depressed, I found that it was the only way to get through the days. Another, more distressing, time when I would detach was when I was being molested, it was the only way that my mind could protect itself- as well as this I would detach when my Dad lost his temper with me.

Altogether this pretty much completely explains why I reacted in the way that I did, feeling shaky and tearful for the rest of the night and probably into Thursday as well. Even though this happened two weeks ago I can almost still feel it- I hadn’t properly detached in so long that doing it and realising how bad it made me feel has really thrown me.

It scares me when my mentalism starts to interfere with my career. To be an actress you have to be as resilient as fuck, and if a simple focussing exercise has that effect on me then I’m worried about what else could throw me off.

I won’t let this affect my career or my dreams- I don’t care how long it takes or what I have to do to get over this, I’m going to work through things and build up some resilience. Acting comes first, everything else just has to fall into place.

’til next time,

Wren x

Pagan Blog Project: I’m A Bad Pagan

There comes a time when we walk away from our Gods for a while, we forget rituals and meanings that once held everything and wander alone down the crooked path.

 

I’m a bad Pagan- of course the Gods are still in my heart and at the centre of my life but I haven’t spoken with them or done a ritual in months.

 

As we get closer and closer to Samhain I find my life becoming increasingly more complicated. I’m starting to realise that I’ve spent the last six or so months since my nasty break-up cutting myself off from the world.

 

I remember being so angry when things ended with my ex because I was tired of being sad, I just wanted to live and be happy and appreciate things. After I’d healed I started to throw myself into life and live without thinking of the consequences

 

Of course there are good and bad points to everything, and living like that has given me so many amazing opportunities but also come back to haunt me several times when I’ve done something stupid and reckless.

 

I really want to spend some time with my Gods this Samhain, I want to meditate and read my tarot cards and talk to them. I want to spend some time with nature and feel again. It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of my friend’s suicide, and I need time with the Gods to acknowledge that.

 

As well as that I think I need to acknowledge what an incredible rollercoaster of a year that it’s been. So much has happened and it’s totally changed me as a person, I want to spend some time thinking about that.

 

So yeah, I’m a bad Pagan- I haven’t been observing the festivals or praying or spending time with nature or talking to the Gods, and I want to start. I feel more grounded and more like myself when I’m connected to the Gods- but at the same time I do recognise that being a ‘bad Pagan’ for a time is necessary

 

The best way I can describe it is like a teenage rebellion or a child moving away from home. Sometimes I think we need to leave the Gods, walk through the world and explore without thinking of the consequences for a while.

 

Right now I’m starting to feel like I need to connect to the Gods again, that it’s time to look at the lessons I’ve learnt and put them to use. Boring things like ‘social responsibility’ are nipping at my heels and I need to reflect on my life.

 

Well that all sounds very random and cryptic doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not all as weird as it sounds.

 

What do you think? Have you had times where you left the Gods/religion/stopped doing rituals? Do you think it benefitted you?

’til next time,

Wren x

 

I’M BACK!

I think the title kind of sums everything I wanted to say here up…. but here’s the long version.

I started this blog a few years ago (lets not think too hard about that… twas a freaking long time ago) when I was in the middle of a mental health crisis and seriously struggling. I felt alone and desperate and I wanted a voice.

Having this here helped a hell of a lot, it was my reason for getting out of bed most mornings and I don’t know what I would have done without it.

However, in the past year especially I’ve changed a hell of a lot as a person- generally for the better (I hope) I’m now the person that I’ve always wanted to be. It’s still hard, I’ve had to overcome some pretty crippling social anxiety amongst other things but I can see light at the end of the tunnel now. Every day I have to push myself to be the person that I want and not sink back into the quagmire of mental hell that left me unable to sit in a room with people that I didn’t know.

Over the last month (or few months) things have changed rapidly for me, I had a whirlwind summer romance, aquainted myself with several other men, gained some new friends, cut ties with old ones, developed a serious sense of self AND was offered a gifted and talented scholarship for a one year intensive actor training course with a local drama school.

To summarise Ladies and Gents, I am living the dream (still working in a supermarket, still living with the family, still mental… but apart from all that…)

So, I was faced with a hard choice: either leave this blog as a relic of the past, or give it an overhaul and move it forward.

Now, I’m not a quitter- and I’m not someone to cut themselves off from their past, so I’ve decided to move this thing forward into the new chapter of my life. To do this I’ve decided to mark some of my older posts as private, I’m doing this because I don’t want anyone I know to read them- not because I’m ashamed, but because I feel that those years are incredibly private and I don’t want to share them with anyone I know (but obviously I feel totally fine about sharing them with a bunch of total strangers on the internet ?!?!- Nice one Wren…) and you might see my actual face.

Yeah, I know, it scares me too, but I have to see it every single day so I’m sure you can deal with a few photos…

Now, somehow over the next year I’m going to have to work out how to juggle 12 hours of supermarket work, 30 hours of actor training, my personal diary and the book I’m writing/editing/planning + homework for my course every week. This is a pre-warning that it may all go wrong and I’ll suffer from some huge emotional breakdown… but I’ll try!

To all those who have read and commented and lurked over the years- THANK YOU! I love every single one of you for taking the time to read my randomness.

’til next time,

Wren x