A creative outlet

Again, it’s been a little while since I did an update here, and after today it might end up being a good deal longer before I update again. It’s hard to say. I’ve ended up with less and less to talk about as this blog has gone on due to really just a lack of improvement and me burning out of ideas for what to say. It’s been helpful writing this blog, but for the moment I think I need to give it a rest. Instead, I’ve decided to focus on something that I find a bit more interesting – video games. So I’ve started a new blog up over at gamerswift.wordpress.com so I hope you’ll go and take a look, even if you’re not necessarily interested in video games if you think I write well then you might end up enjoying it anyway. If not, though, that’s totes fine.

header2

But if you want to see me write passionately, you’ll go at least take a peek.

Now I’m not totally abandoning this blog, I’ll still keep it updated semi-regularly. It’ll just be a bit less often than it has been in the past… I want to write about something that makes me happy. I want to focus on things that make me happy.

Thank you everyone for reading, and I promise I’m not leaving you for good!

Much love,

Kitatojirin / Baden / gamerswift

 

Posted in computer games, happiness, video games | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It gets worse before it gets better.”

I feel like it’s been a while since I properly looked at how I’m really doing. And there’s a good reason for that – I’m not getting any better, not really. Hopefully, though, that’s about to change.

After several weeks of slowly cutting the dosage down, I am now currently two days off Citalopram. I think it’s too early to tell if it’s going to mess me up being finally off it or not, but we’ll see. I’m happy about being off it for one major reason and that is that I really think it made my depression, anxiety and alcohol dependency quite a lot worse. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know why I started taking it, but basically I injured myself at work due to being distracted by depressed thoughts and decided that maybe I should be taking something to help my mood. That was in June 2013.

Flash forward to October 2013. As much as I thought I felt better about myself, I was actually a lot worse already. I was having panic attacks and huge mood swings that I didn’t even recognise at the time. And the biggest problem of all was that instead of my alcohol consumption decreasing, it actually began to spike – I was drinking a good at least quarter more than I had been before, and it was steadily going up. I found myself not being able to financially support my habit as well as I had done before. So I started stealing.

At first it was from my flatmates – they often had alcohol at home and I was beginning to get desperate so I started taking it. Obviously they didn’t want to stand for that, so they asked me to move out. Then, living in a backpacker hostel, I started going one or two nights a week alcohol-free and I told myself that I was making good progress. But the nights that I did drink more than made up for the ones where I didn’t. Less than making good progress, I was making negative progress. I didn’t really realise it at the time but I was getting steadily worse. Next came stealing from the supermarket, and it wasn’t a one-time thing. I’d run out of money each week and have a little alcohol left and tell myself “That’s all you need, just finish that and be done with it, go the rest of the week without.” But that’s not what happened. Inevitably there would be the panic that came with pouring out the last of my wine at 7:30 or 8pm, when there was still plenty of time left in the day and I “just knew” I wouldn’t be able to sleep. So to the supermarket I would go. God knows how I got away with it as many times as I did, but of course in December eventually I was caught. And in the same week that I was caught, having decided one night that taking from the supermarket would be too risky, I had the brilliant idea to just take something from work. What could go wrong?

So I ended up unemployed. And somehow that didn’t stop me. Being arrested put me off theft as a means of acquiring alcohol, but it didn’t stop me from continuing on the path where my alcohol intake just continued to increase. There are parts of the last few months that I just plain don’t remember – gaping holes in days where I have no idea what happened, and I’ve seen messages sent by me to Facebook friends that I don’t remember sending. Some of which I have no idea what I could have been thinking to say such things.

“Equipment”-wise I am doing a little better. I can see where I’m going wrong and while I don’t necessarily have any idea how to fix it, at least now I know. I’ve come to the realisation along the way that I have a problem with anxiety and not just depression like I had always thought for years, I’ve done my first ever week-long “holiday” from alcohol, I’ve done several four-day breaks from alcohol, and the current tobacco pouch I have is maybe a month old and still a quarter full. I definitely am making progress. And now that I’ve (hopefully) kicked Citalopram I should be able to move forward even further… Should being the operative word.

Posted in alcoholism, anxiety, being alone, being poor, depression, insomnia, medication, panic attacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bones of my arts

Not sure why I felt the need to censor myself there in the title, but whatever. Fuck it.

Oh, that’s why.

You could argue that technically I’ve been poor pretty much my whole life. My parents were never exactly “rolling in it” when I was a kid, and even less so when they divorced. Mum was on the DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit) for a while there, and working at the same time which meant she had less money than if she just sat around doing nothing just collecting the benefit. I’ve had jobs, of course, but I’ve never quite mastered the art of living within my means – the more money I make, the more money I spend – there was a time I could afford to buy a brand new full-priced Nintendo DS game every week and I was still broke come day-before-payday. And when my alcoholic tendencies started to properly kick in, I got even poorer. But right now I am the poorest I’ve ever been, as an adult at least. Work & Income pays my rent for me, luckily as right now I can’t be trusted to pay it myself, and after that I get $120 in my bank account each week. Except it’s not $120 because there’s always bank fees or interest payments on my perpetually maxed-out overdraft, or credit card transactions I forgot I made or that weren’t actually processed when I made them so I have to pay them now. Usually I end up with around $100 – sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. If anyone doesn’t believe me when I say I want to get back into work as soon as possible they can eat my d***. Being poor is shit.

But there have been some positives to being on the bones of my arse. Well, I like to call them positives because you have to have something to laugh about or you’ll just wither and die, probably. The positives are random things that I have learned via necessity. Things that a normal person with a reasonable income would possibly never even notice or care about. So I decided to make a list. This one is as much for me as it is for you, a reminder of how things aren’t so bad really, and a reason not to cry I guess even though I feel like it so often.

  • Number one: You can open canned goods with a butter knife given enough patience and/or determination.

Okay well maybe not one quite like that.

It’s true! I don’t know that I’d try it with anything containing brine, ie corn kernels or peas, unless you’re fixing to make a huge mess, but it works. You simply take the tip of the buttering end of the knife, place it where the blade of a can opener would normally go, get a firm grip on the knife handle and the can and then bash the can down on a bench. Voila! You have a hole in the can now! But don’t keep bashing because you’ll make a mess. Instead, just wrench the knife backwards and forwards around the top of the can with a bit of elbow grease and eventually you’ll have access to those delicious baked beans or whole peeled tomatoes.

  • Number two: The name “rice cooker” is really only a suggestion.

Serving suggestion.

I should say right from the top that I’m by no means the original repurpose-er of rice cookers. My mum owns a nail salon, and for that she needs moist and warm hand towels. How does she accomplish that? By keeping them in a rice cooker, of course. Because as it turns out, they work just as well as purpose-built appliances and cost less than half the price. But I digress.

I’ve learned that you can cook damn near anything in a rice cooker. You can cook noodles, boil potatoes, make soup, shallow-fry meat patties, slow-cook a stew, and I soon plan to attempt a bacon and egg pie with which I foresee no problems. They’re brilliant little machines and if you’re poor I recommend acquiring one. Hell, even if you’re not poor it might make for some entertaining time-wasting trying to figure out what will or won’t cook in a rice cooker.

  • Number three: Really cheap video games are ALWAYS worth it.

Good news everyone! …wait

It’s no secret that I love playing video games. My gamerscore on Xbox 360 is currently sitting at 23030 and I’ve had this account for just over three years. That’s about 7676 gamerscore per year. If that means nothing to you just trust me, it’s kind of a lot.

Now I, obviously, can’t afford to play all the new games that come out and it’s not even really all that cost-effective for me to rent them, so what do I do? Why I trawl the game sales of course! Now is a fantastic time to be a gamer, not just because of all the amazing new stuff coming out, but also because of the sales. The platforms that I personally use have been great in the last three months and I have gotten endless enjoyment out of them. From the interactive visual novel Dysfunctional Systems that I picked up on Steam for $4 to the mental “Burnout-esque” Driver San Francisco on Xbox 360 which I snagged for $3.28, I have had a ton of fun playing all kinds of different games for considerably less than the price of one major brand new title.

Even if the game you buy doesn’t turn out to be all that fun, if you spent less than $5 on it then you didn’t really lose much. And if you bought it digitally then you can always come back and try it again later.

  • Number four: Budget brand foodstuffs isn’t often actually all that terrible.

Mmmm!

You know the ones. The brands that sit next to the ones you buy. The ones with the crappier looking packaging and/or brand names that include the word “brand”. The ones that are 89 cents while the ones that you buy are $1.69. But guess what? You could save a TON of money! Those cheaper brands, while sometimes yes they are terrible (I’m looking at you, Budget Cola), are usually just the same thing as what you’re buying but with a different name on the pack. For example, I recently had a can of spaghetti (yes, I opened it with a butter knife!) which was labelled “Home Brand”, but I swear if you’d served it to me and told me it was Watties I’d have believed you. And Pam’s potato chips? Some flavours are actually nicer than the Bluebird equivalent.

  • Number five: Buying music digitally is much easier and cheaper than buying CDs.

The music is cheap because they didn’t spend any money on detail for this image.

It may be that I’m just really late to the party on this one, but it’s something I discovered about a year ago. Really like that one song you heard on the radio? Just buy that song! iTunes has basically anything you’ll ever want and you aren’t forced to buy the whole album just for one track. New Zealand pricing for songs is usually between $1.29 and $2.39 depending on how recent or popular the particular track is, but not only that, the whole album itself is usually considerably cheaper. Last year I picked up a Bic Runga album for $10 and you can bet your arse it was probably $30 at The Warehouse at the time!

  • Number six: Potatoes and onions are your friend.

You can not tell me that this does not look tasty.

Ostensibly two of the most boring vegetables known to man, potatoes and onions are cheap. Dirt cheap if you’ll excuse the pun (because they grow in the dirt get it??). But you can add onion to basically anything! And potatoes don’t have to be boring. One of my favourite foods is mashed potato and gravy, and it’s probably the easiest thing in the world to make – peel potatoes, boil potatoes, mash potatoes, eat potatoes. You can even dice onion to mix through it if you’re feeling adventurous or literally only have potatoes and onions in the house.

Both potatoes and onions are so versatile though. Everyone (most people) loves fried onion with their barbecued sausages in bread. Potato and cheese bake is a hit with kids (and with me because it’s so friggin easy to make). Raw onion mixed with mashed boiled egg and mayo goes great in sandwiches. Fried potato is nearly easier to make than mashed potato and if you add a bit of salt it can be eaten on its own… or with fried onion!

  • Number seven: Water isn’t really so bad.

I just want to go swimming in it.

When I had money I used to hate water. Tasteless, dry, boring. I would drink nothing but powdered drinks, soft drinks, syrup drinks – anything with a flavour that wasn’t water-flavour. The only exception was when I needed to take a pill of some sort. Being poor has shown me the error of my ways.

Chilled water is now probably one of my most favourite things. I keep a 2.25l bottle of water in my fridge at all times and it is the best thing ever for cooling off before bed on a warm night or for refreshing yourself first thing in the morning. I’d probably still choose lemonade if I had the option, but hey, water isn’t the awful gross liquid I always thought it was is my point. And the best part about water is it’s free!

Posted in alcoholism, being poor, feeling normal, food, happiness, improvising, music, video games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven days later

It wasn’t necessarily by choice, and it wasn’t exactly easy, but I’ve done it. For the first time in just over four years, I just went seven days alcohol-free.

But I will never, ever wear this shirt.

I didn’t say anything about it before, here or on twitter, because one, like I said it wasn’t entirely by choice, and two, because I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. I’ve tried before to go more than a couple of days and it just never worked out, so I kept it quiet until it was done, just in case.

In the week between now and last Thursday I also only smoked two and a half cigarettes, which also sort of wasn’t by choice as they tend to make me gag if I’m not having a drink but nevertheless it’s a positive health, uh, thing. Disappointingly, I don’t really feel any different. I don’t feel as though I can breathe easier or smell better and I certainly haven’t begun to find it any easier to sleep without drinking, but whatever, it’s still progress.

I’ll be totally honest with you though – it really, really wasn’t easy. I slept very little during the last week, and when I did it was usually during the early day due to having been up all night with hot-and-cold-sweats, brain shocks from my medication which I’m still gradually coming off of, itchiness and just general restlessness, and even when I slept it was always broken. And I tried to give up at least twice. I asked my mum to borrow money, but thankfully she didn’t have any to lend. Well, either that or that’s just what she told me but either way I’m glad she said no. I considered stealing. I considered selling my Kinect sensor and a bunch of my DVDs. I even, very briefly, pondered what it would take to whore myself out for a night – and not in the fun way lots of guys joke about. But I made it in the end, totally sober for seven whole days.

One of the positives that came out of the experience is that I got a TON of gaming time in. I finished three games (beginning to end) in that time, all of which take in excess of ten hours each to complete. I believe I even spent a total of twenty hours in one of them. Though obviously I didn’t really do a hell of a lot else with my time. Another positive that I’m hoping to have come out of this, though, is that I’ll have the confidence and the courage to make it another week.

What better way to distract oneself from… uh… what the hell is that?

Of course, if I’m honest, I haven’t given myself the chance to make it a full two-weeks-straight of being sober. As I write this I have a glass of wine to my right and I may have had one or two sips from it already, but I think I’ve earned it. And besides, one week was stressful enough… I think I deserve a rest, never mind the fact that it might actually be dangerous not to take one. But I think that as of now I am better equipped to try to go another week alcohol-free starting tomorrow. Or rather, I hope I am. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The hardest part of going sober all week was the lack of sleep. The lack of sleep and the frustration at trying to fall asleep while feeling tired enough and yawning constantly but just being completely unable to. There were a couple of days where I decided not to even bother and just stayed up and active right the way through until the following night, and even that nearly didn’t work. The weirdest part was realising just how long a day actually is. When you’ve spent as long as I have waking up in the late morning and getting drunk at 5 or 6pm every day, the days just seem incredibly short, and that’s something I’d not really been keenly aware of as much as I am now after this last week. Man, days are LONG as FUCK! What’s up with that??

Fuck you, brain. Fuck. You.

It’s been an… “interesting” experience. And I’m even more interested and excited and more than a little scared to see how well I cope with another week. I’m sure I can do it, I know I can. It’s a hard thing, shaking up a routine so ingrained. I played video games so much last week because I literally did not know what else to do, so hopefully this week I’ll have a little more clarity of mind to figure out something a little more productive to do with my time. And hopefully eat something a little more sustaining than noodles and butter chicken toppers.

Posted in alcoholism, anxiety, depression, feeling normal, insomnia, medication, video games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aggressively Ignored

Did you know it is possible to ignore someone aggressively? Because it is.

Today I crossed paths today with an “old friend” for the first time in a long while. She was with a friend, and today we were very close by one-another and we ignored each other. Aggressively.

It’s easy, at a distance, to ignore someone. You can say things like “oh I’m sorry I must have missed you!”, or you can do a fake double-take at the time and just talk to them. But when you blatantly see someone and they see you, but you ignore each other on purpose. That’s aggressive ignoring.

Everyone does it, I think. I’m not a special case. When a friendship dies, well, when you both live in the same small town what do you do? You ignore. Which is a shame, because a good friendship deserves to be fixed. But you don’t try to fix it. You hide. I think that could be classed as aggressive ignorance too.

I don’t have answers, I just miss my friend. I can’t forgive her for giving up on me so quickly but it doesn’t stop me loving and missing her. But I ignore her and she ignores me. We don’t speak or exchange glances but we actively, aggressively ignore each other. And it sucks. Don’t end up like this… anyone.

Posted in alcoholism, anxiety, being alone, depression, feeling normal, happiness, medication, Taylor Swift | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Never Been Very Good At Friends

One of my favourite lines from Katniss Everdeen: “I’ve never been very good at friends.”

It’s not because hearing it woke something in me, but because it’s a phrase I’ve used in conversation with myself a large number of times in my life and it’s nice to hear someone else say it.

I’m a terrible friend. I hang on and ask for more than I give out. I would argue that no one ever asks me for anything, but to be fair I probably don’t appear to have anything to offer so it makes sense that no one would ask. But I depend on my friends a whole lot, which for me sucks a whole lot because the ones who say “If you ever need to talk I’m here” are either lying or don’t actually expect me to ask… because whenever I need to talk to someone I’m shunned. It’s not a nice feeling. Sure, I might be a bit drunk or I might not make much sense sometimes but you offered! Have the goddamned common courtesy of either not offering or making good on the offer when I ask. And don’t give me the cold shoulder when I start to ask more often because all that means is that no one is giving me the time of day when I need it, like you are doing right now.

This is not meant to be an insult to, or slight against anyone. I just want people to understand that living with mental illness is not easy, and having to deal with an alcohol problem on top of that can drive a person a bit mental. So I’m sorry if I don’t make sense. And I’m sorry if I’m coming to you more often than you’d like… it’s only because I’ve nowhere else to turn. Or at least that’s what I believe, I could be wrong.

I don’t like the outside world in general. I find it entirely frightening and dangerous. People get drunk and drive cars and kill people. People take drugs that make them insane and kill children. People somehow end up so desperate that they beat other people to death over money or possessions. People are fucking scary, okay? Do you really have to wonder why I try to stick so close to anyone who seems like they might not be like that?

I know that there are people that like me, and there are people that care about me. Hell, I’m sure a big percentage of the people who read this stuff read it because they know me and they care… I’m not trying to push anyone away, not really. When I sit alone at night or during the day playing my video games or staring at twitter or listening to Tay, all I want is at least one person to be sitting there with me and just being comfortable doing whatever. But I don’t see anyone in my life that way anymore. And maybe that’s my fault, because I’m mental, but I am ever waiting for the day that I can sit in a room with another person and feel comfortable.

Sorry that it isn’t today. I really am sorry.

Posted in alcoholism, anxiety, being alone, depression, feeling normal, loneliness, Taylor Swift | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banana Skins

 

My case manager at the Alcohol and Drug clinic today told me: “There are a lot of banana skins along the way, but you choose to either stay on the ground, or get back up.” I liked the analogy a lot. I never did like bananas that much anyway. Though my friends and I did try to smoke the skins once… I wonder if that’s some kind of cruel metaphor in and of itself. Anyway, I digress.

I hit a big banana skin recently. Huge. Like probably from Mario Kart sized banana skin. And those can stop motorized vehicles so in hindsight maybe I should have seen it coming.

bananabananabananabanana

It also had a face. I really don’t know how I missed that.

So I messed up with taking my medication right when I was just starting to wean myself off of it and it messed *me* up. As a result, I went from sticking to my half-week drinking, half-week not drinking regimen and just drank all week. And it had some rough side-effects. By Sunday last week I was up in the middle of the night, drunk, playing a very frustrating video game and literally screaming at the TV. I woke up several guests at the backpacker hostel I was staying up and even woke up the owner. I had also come to be a second week behind in rent there due to all the drinking, so come 9am Monday morning I had the owner of the backpacker coming into my room and telling me I had to pack up my things and get out – today. So what did I do? I picked up the half-full wine glass from the night before, and I kept drinking as I packed.

I called my mum and asked her to come help me as I had no money and nowhere to go and I was not about to be in a state to go anywhere to ask for help, because as it turns out even the most specialised agencies are not prepared to help a blubbering drunk person.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, and there are some parts of it I almost wish I don’t remember and honestly really don’t want to go into. But I will say that at one point my mum tried to withhold my alcohol from my, physically, and I got rather upset about that. I didn’t attack or hurt my mum in any way, I would like to clarify that, but I think I might have scared her and probably my young cousin who I had no idea was present at the time. And I know I never would have acted that way had I known she was there.

After that… episode… we went to my Granny’s place and that’s where I stayed that night, though I didn’t sleep. Around 11pm, sober, I started to feel the withdrawal effects from citalopram and it hit me that that was probably a problem, so I took it. Trouble with that was that I’d obviously been so long without it that the effects of reintroducing it to my system just replaced the withdrawal and I experienced itchiness, brain shocks and the rest all night and early into the morning. I got up at 9am and was absolutely buggered for the rest of the day.

My brain wasn’t working, but I had to find somewhere to live and fast because my Granny is not the most understanding with these sorts of things and wanted me gone. Luckily, Franklyn Village and Work & Income came to the rescue and by 5pm I was already moving in.

Speaking of Work & Income, and thinking of the various other people I’ve seen and talked to during my time dealing with my problem and my mental health, I’ve been thinking more and more about a post from a blog I read a while back about the mentality of being someone in need of these people but at the same time not wanting them to know it. The way you dress when you’re thinking that way. I can’t say it any better than she did, so please go read it. The particular post is called “Fuck you, Please help me”.

I feel awful actually, sometimes reading Writehandedgirl’s blog. I feel awful when I have to go in to Work & Income like she does, but for whatever reason I feel like I get much more help than they seem to be giving her. I’m grateful for the support, but I really wish it was as easy as it has been for me to find the help they need. I feel like these people all think that somehow my alcoholism is more of an issue they need to help solve than “just plain mental health” and/or some weird unknown medical diagnoses are. It’s kind of fucked.

winz

Work & Income: Helping New Zealanders. But only sometimes.

For now, I’m back on track. I’m up to date with my medication and after my latest appointment at the addiction services clinic today, I’m feeling pretty good about my situation. My case manager there is lovely and has been really helpful in making me feel comfortable out there. She’s even said she will read my blog here to get some more insight to how I think and operate so, uh, hi?

I think living here in Franklyn Village, while potentially packed with people more mental than I am, will be a good place for me at least for now. It’s safe and comfortable, it’s too far to just nip down to the supermarket for a drink when I feel like it, and I don’t feel like I have to hide in my room to escape the other residents like I did at the backpacker hostel. Though I can’t afford their internet right now, so that’s kind of a bummer. But at least I have my iPhone to share its not-so-glorious Telecom 3G connection for now. And I’ve traded a basin in my room for a fridge, which while I miss having running water right by my bed, is kind of better. I can even make ice! I like ice a lot in weather like this.

pic_major_nelson

This is Larry Hryb. He likes ice too, but he’s an ice snob so fuck that guy. Just kidding he’s… *sunglasses* Cool.

Posted in alcoholism, anxiety, depression, insomnia, medication, panic attacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment