Chapter 4: Dragonfish

I closed the lounge door and Greg, my social worker, breathes in as he takes in his surroundings, no doubt noticing the emptiness. He opens his notepad, and as if cued on what to say next asks, “Have you thought any more about socialising?”
“I socialise enough.”
“I see,” He plays with his ID badge that dangles from a ribbon around his neck, “when?”
“At work,” I reply directly
“Is there anyone in particular at work that you get on with?”
I shrug my shoulders, “I guess so.”
“And what would you say to meeting up outside of work, or even to go to see a film once you’ve both finished a shift?”
“I don’t know.”
We sit with an awkward silence between us; he shifts his eyes around the lounge taking it all in again, “So are you refurnishing? Or,” he shrugs holding the palm of his hands out openly in question, “are you taking on a rigorous minimalist lifestyle?” He smiles.
I take a look around my lounge as if the aesthetic is new to me too, “I’m not sure yet.”
“I see.” He fingers his ID badge again.
He looks at me seriously, places his notepad on his knee, “I see,” He repeats and scribbles something quickly, “How do you feel,” He takes a pause and looks at his notepad for a moment as if carefully reading some detail that is new to him. “How would you feel,” He starts again, “If we brought your appointment with Dr Aaron forwards?”
My knee-jerk reaction is to spit out my question, I stop myself and pause for a moment to make it sound and look as casual as possible, “Why?”
“I just think,” He places his pen above his lip and holds it there like a moustache while he thinks, “I just think,” He repeats as he starts again, “That we should review you earlier than previously discussed.”
“It’s up to you,” I reply under the pretence of not being bothered

 

 

There is a big bulky tattooed skinhead type pacing up and down from the entrance and back to the receptionist’s desk. The receptionists sit behind a transparent protective barrier. A brown haired woman has sat in a chair three seats away from me to my right, wearing a puffy jacket and is watching the skinhead intensely. A woman with her ID dangling around her neck arrives, and the big guy stops pacing, and they face one another. “David.” She starts sternly.
“They’re five minutes late,” David complains, frowning.
You can tell he’s the type of person that gives his social worker trouble and that she has to be able and willing to dish stern words out if needed. With her ‘no excuse’ voice switched on, “Just sit down, David.”
“They’re five minutes late.” He repeats like a petulant child, stamping his feet on the spot.
“David, we’ve had this discussion before. Haven’t we?” His social worker asks.David’s nostrils flare, and he looks down at his trainers, his shoelaces have come undone.
“Come on, sit down, David.” His social worker repeats, glancing over at the nervous woman in her puffy coat and then at me with a smile that is meant to reassure us.
The skinhead turns around and screens us, looking us all up and down before turning back to his social worker, “No.” He starts pacing again.
His social worker sits down one seat away from mine and acts like she’s had enough with him now, that she’s ignoring him until he finishes his childish tantrum.
David stops and looks at her sitting down quite comfortably, his social worker raises her wrist and looks at her watch then looks through the glass window at the receptionist, smiles and nods. The receptionist presses a button at the desk, and her voice comes out clear from behind the glass, “The doctor won’t be long now.” She pushes the switch back, and the waiting room falls to silence. David shuffles up and down till he lets out a big sigh, “I’m leaving.” He says with a dismissive wave of his hand.
His social worker is in no rush to chase after him; she looks back at the receptionist, they each give a knowing smile that appears to be code for, ‘Well, we expected this. That’s David for you.’
I feel a surge of anger towards this stranger David; I want to punch him right bang in his eye and kick him in the nuts. But it’s only because I wish I had the guts to just storm out of here too. His social worker casually strolls out of the waiting room nodding goodbye to the receptionist.
“Jacob Gilbert.” An Asian man’s voice calls out.
I start to get up from my seat slowly, and as if he sees the question on my face he tells me, “Greg is already here.”
I follow the doctor to his room. Greg is sat waiting with one leg over the other, his notepad resting on his thigh. “Hey, J.J.”
“Hello.” I sit down next to my social worker and the doctor sits in front of us, his legs apart his bulge all too clear to see. It’s not that I spend time looking purposely in that direction; he’s just dressed in such a way it’s hard to miss or else he’s fucking massive. But that’s not anything I want to consider for very long.
“So how are you, Jacob?” He looks at my notes then back at me, “Or would you prefer I call you J.J?”
I shrug my shoulders. I’m not bothered.
He looks across at Greg and smiles. “I’ll just follow Greg’s lead and call you J.J, then.”
We sit in awkward silence for a moment.
The doctor writes something then looks back at me, “how are you doing since we last met?”
“Okay.”
The doctor smiles again, “It appears Greg may be disagreeing with that.” He puts a fist under his chin as if posing like The Thinker statue.
Greg scans his notepad and then says, “he’s sold or gotten rid of most of his possessions.”
“Have you?” The doctor turns to me, wanting me to confirm.
“Yes,” I admit sheepishly.
“And why is that?” He asks, his interest in me suddenly intensified.
“I have plans.”
The doctor leans forwards in his chair, his legs now less far apart sparing us the bulge. “What kind of plans?”
I think it over a minute, trying not to think it over for too long, “You know,” I look to a stain on the carpet, “Just saving up for better things.”
“You sold your possessions to save money?”
“Yes.” I try not to let my inner scowl show on my face. What is so hard to believe about that?
“For anything in particular?” He leans back in his chair again, “Surely you’ve still got your guitar, though?”
Greg shakes his head, “He’s got rid of that too.”
The doctor leans forward again, “Really?” He looks at Greg as he asks this, then looks back towards me, “What do you want to buy with all this money?”
“A better guitar.” I lie.
“I see.” The doctor writes more notes. “Do you know what type of guitar?
“A Les Paul Gibson probably.” I shrug.
The doctor sucks in some air through his teeth, writes some more notes down.
“Seems a bit much to sell all your other possessions for a guitar,” he pauses and writes something quickly, “even if it is a Gibson guitar.”
“I don’t make that much working at the cinemas.”
“Have you ever considered making it a goal to get a better-paid job?”
“I don’t want a better-paid job.”
“But you want enough money to buy a Gibson.”
“Yes, but why work for so many stupid hours to get paid more to buy a Gibson guitar you’ll never have time to play anyway?”
Dr Aaron clicks his pen and looks between Greg and I, rolls his tongue over his teeth, “So sell all your possessions instead?”
“It’s not like I have sold everything.”
“Yes, he still has a laptop.” Greg butts in.
“A laptop and?” Dr Aaron asks
“Nothing else that I could see.”
“What about the necessities?”
“I have a fridge. I still buy food.”
The doctor sits back and opens his legs wide again, his hands closed together as if praying under his chin, “I see. Very minimalist of you.”
“Yes,” I agree.
“I just worry about the reasons for your new minimalist lifestyle.”
I don’t know where the voice inside my head comes from but I find myself talking about minimalism in more detail than I’d realised I’d even thought of, “I decided that I want quality things not a quantity of useless tat. That I’d rather have a shitty paid job that allows me my own time, and have to sell previous items of interest to afford something of quality.”
The doctor nods his head and seems to be buying it.
“That is a rather profound thing to realise in your life.”

“Profound thing to realise.” His voice repeats in my head over and over.

Autism research on empathy and embarrassment

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The research

My critique of the research:

While this study is good because it makes a point of people with Autism actually having empathy, rather than the stereotype they don’t…

I do have an issue with this bit, “The unease within the autism group remained high even if the performer herself felt only mildly embarrassed.”

How are they measuring how embarrassed they felt? If it’s a self-reported answer then the conclusion that the autistic people read them wrong is potentially a mistake. The person may be so embarrassed that they deny how embarrassed they were out of embarrassment!

Couldn’t actually the truth be that maybe the autistic people accurately read them, and the person lied? And therefore actually autistic people are more accurate at reading people but without the social ability to do much about their ability to be so accurate?

Meditation Diaries: Random rambling about meditation

A post pinned to my blog says enlightenment is bullshit.

I still think the same thing today.

I don’t meditate for religious reasons or reasons to do with any enlightenment.

Something that often radiates from so-called ‘enlightened’ people I’ve come across through the years is….their absolutely massive egos. For people that often speak about ‘killing the ego’ they appear to have a lot of it themselves.

Of course, If I say to them, “You seem egotistical to me,” they have a ready answer.
Something like, “Of course I appear more egotistical to you, it’s your ego that is lying to you because you’re intimidated by the idea of enlightenment.”
Because my ego is in the way of such personal growth.
My ego is trying to sabotage my own personal growth by calling out enlightened people in an attempt to bring them back down to my level. Etc… Etc.

Which of course in those answers reveals a lot of modesty….. Right? Because that also comes from enlightenment doesn’t it, modesty?

So the more modest you are the better than everyone else you are… Right?

Why am I rambling on this topic?

Because I was doing some research into the more negative aspects of meditation.
Some people claim mediation made their anxiety worse. Which someone else will reply to with, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Or worse someone talks about mediation possibly causing hallucinations or some other weird experiences some of which include seizures! And one reply to this may be, “This is good! This is a sign of progress. These negative things are just you releasing that negative energy!” Always back to the new age bullshit about energy and cleansing oneself.

While I don’t deny the existence of ‘energy’ existing within a feeling, this idea of cleansing oneself always manages to irritate me.

The truth about meditation is that there can be negative side effects.

The truth about meditation is that if you’re looking for enlightenment you’re probably going to end up putting more pressure on yourself than you should. And perhaps more likely to have negative side effects.

The truth is (And I’m learning this the hard way), people seem to have a default disposition towards certain perceptions and moods. My default is typically quite moody and grumpy. My humour is moody, my humour is also grumpy.
To some people, this grates on them, “Why you so grumpy?”
They sometimes misunderstand that while I am grumpy I’m not grumpy in a hostile, necessarily unhappy way. Though unhappiness sometimes plays it’s part.

But what I’m trying to say is, be wary of your expectations with mediation. It probably won’t change your default, if that is something you’re trying to change. Though it may change your temperance towards yourself and your default which in of itself can be a big enough change that I guess it could feel like you’re more ‘enlightened’ than before.

Be wary of bros and sisters who keep misspelling entitled as ‘enlightened’ because I swear it, anyone who says they’re enlightened with no irony is full of bullshit.  You know the type I’m talking about, those that talk in riddles all the time and always talk as if they’re doing a perfume ad. Or think they’re talking straight because “They know the truth muh red pills, muh society is full of sheeple and I’m not a sheeple” type.
People who listen to Alan Watts and nod along and think everything he says is profound. God, I hate listening to his talks when I’ve come across them on youtube, he sounded so pompous to me.

I’ll never forget that one video I saw with him sat in some field with a teacup talking in his boring way while making some special herbal tea no doubt, pouring it ever so carefully. I know, I’m supposed to think he comes out with some wonderful ideas but I’m just a Gorilla and I’d rather sit in silence than listen to him. I’m not saying he was always wrong, just that I prefer to not hear his voice.

Anyway on the note about perfume ads making no sense..

Lounging around with Matt Johnson the Gorilla: Amazon really does sell everything!

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Strange things that amazon has claimed to sell when on the google.

Do you like the smell of dead rats? Apparently Amazon has you covered:

What is funny about this one especially is that I had actually googled “Book smell.” Or something about searching for sprays or something that could provide that new book smell.
dead rat smell

Want a new heart? Amazon has just the thing for you!

Heart transplant

Is your heart too perfect? Want

Prime shipping

Or perhaps you’d like some new lungs?

Perhaps some new lungs

Got low heamoglobin? Buy some on amazon.

weird things you can buy

 
* note

All these were searched last year and I shared them with friends on facebook for shits and giggles. Now when I search these things these ads no longer come up. This makes me sad.

Under the Iron Sea

Under the iron sea

 

 

 

It was 2006, and my head was just beginning to emerge from under the iron sea.
I was in a psychiatric ward due to severe depression.

I always remember these words during a review meeting, “You were very unwell when you arrived.”
Before then I had never viewed myself as having been ‘very unwell’ despite the self-harm and wanting to kill myself It still hadn’t registered with me that I was ‘seriously unwell’ I considered that kind of talk to be reserved for ‘real’ mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
I just viewed myself as a loser who couldn’t cope with life.

What did I have to be depressed about anyway? Sure I was teased a lot at school but compared to what some people go through who are bullied, it seemed like something I should just be able to shrug off. Sure my mobility had lessened for no reason that any doctor could find, and I used (still use) a wheelchair for long distance. But again, what did I have to be depressed about?

There were problems in time that I would realise I had, through the ever-growing self-awareness we possess. Each problem became something to tick off my list when ‘solved’ something that I could say, “aha! This is where the depression spawns itself and leaks into the rececesses of my mind from!” only to find once that problem dwindled, or was solved that actually my depression would remain.
Granted some of my problems cannot be ‘solved’ and only ‘treated’ with drugs and a ‘wait and watch’ approach. But the point is those problems get ‘treated’ and the pain from them becomes ‘lesser’ even if they sometimes come back with a vengeance every now and then.

But still, the depression persists like a cyst that keeps reopening it’s wound.

I’ve noticed stages to my depression throughout my life. Through childhood, I now realise I was already depressed very early on, but it was an emptiness that I could just about for short periods distract myself from. This made me a very demanding friend though, and I was insistent on always playing out, a friend that denied me my fun would anger me. How dare they feel too tired to play out, or heaven forbid just simply, ‘not feel like playing.’
What do you mean you don’t ‘feel’ like playing out? You think I ‘feel’ like it? No! I HAVE to play out! Because if I don’t, I’m left with my own emptiness. 

This persistent need to always be playing outside continued on into my teens but my depression was getting darker, and I was becoming more and more desperate. My thoughts soon turned from playing out to another way to escape. Thinking about death in general and specifically suicide. Depression had taken me whole now, and I didn’t even see much point in having friends anymore either.
Most of them had started to distance themselves from me by this point anyway, they didn’t realise I was just as tired of me as they were. Or maybe they did.
I understand I was toxic. Something negative radiated from me, how could it not? I always lied to save face every time I was caught out crying or just looking too miserable. Some really unforgivable lies passed my lips.
They were never planned out lies, there was never an intelligent manipulating mastermind behind those lies. They spilt out of my mouth in moments where I’d been caught out feeling too miserable for words to comprehend. How does a teenager who doesn’t really understand himself what the fuck is going on in his head explain his feelings? I didn’t have a word for it. ‘Sad’ didn’t fit, it wasn’t ‘sad’ it was more, it was worse than sad. I could have said, “Actually now that you ask if you must know I feel like the world is a dark place that has beaten and eaten me and spits me back out. My world is upside down, or it’s the right way around, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have this despair filling my lungs and every moment of every day feels like I’m drowning. Death would be a good escape for me, but I’m afraid of the pain of dying so tell me, how do I walk the path to death without the pain? Also, does the world look dark to you too? I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean physically does it look dark to you? Those lights above our heads, aren’t they really murky and dark and give off hardly any light what so ever?” But who wants to listen to that? So when some kid who would usually be laughing at me one day for some bizarre reason unknown to me decides to ask me if I’m okay, because “god you look miserable” sometimes just being asked that question alone would make me burst into tears. And then they’d say, “Woah, what’s up? Tell us?” And since I couldn’t say the above I’d find myself saying something like, “One of my dogs just died.” But none of my dogs just died. In fact, the dog that has come to mind died when I was baby but she has a name, and so it’s an easy lie to tell, it’s a real dog that was once alive and had a real name, so I didn’t have to make it all up on the spot. It was there for me, and these kids knew no better. “Oh I’m so sorry,” They’d reply. And my tears would seem less pathetic because death had happened and who doesn’t cry when their dog dies?
Because most of the time I was crying at nothing that could be proven to be ‘real’ I was crying because I was crying any reasons behind it be damned. Yes depression was the ‘reason’, but there was often no catalyst like an actual dog dying other than those words, “Are you okay?” So there were no words to say when they asked me “are you okay” and I burst out crying other than some lie I could think of on the spot to make my tears look reasonable. Crying has always been something I reserve as something I do on my own, but in those moments for whatever reason, I just broke.
The truth is I only have two basic facial expressions for people to understand, still to this day, one is crying, the other is laughter.

Fast forward to 2006 and I’m in a psychiatric ward and on visits home my mother would always be playing a Keane Album in her car called under the Iron Sea. Now everytime I listen to that album it takes me back to the car seat. It takes me back to waiting in the car while she picked up my prescription from the hospital pharmacy and the music became a soundtrack to a silent emptiness that was somehow filling me. I was better than I was, I was back to the empty numbness of my childhood. It’s an emptiness with a glimmer of hope but somehow it’s all the more painful. It’s a more silent form of depression than the one where I couldn’t help but cry. Becuase I have no words again and no tears either just this growing deep brooding feeling. The car feeling too small, like I’m suffocating in it, suffocating within myself, my lungs suffocating from breathing. The doctors in the review meeting earlier on that day were all smiles and congratulations for me, for how far i’d come. And there I was sat in the car with this silent depression inside me with no way of expressing it. They were talking about me going home for good, not just for tea or for a weekend, but for good.

And i’ve been in this depressive cycle ever since. Back and forth from crying more easily than is normal to this silent depressive, oppressive thing inside me. Never really reaching a point where I’m passed the depression. Like being trapped in that car but I’m locked in, no words to describe it, at least not adquately enough.

No words are ever enough
And not speaking at all is torture.