sareini: ('everything is true')
I've been tired all weekend and I'm not really sure why. Either I've been sleeping badly and not noticing (I'm one of those people who sometimes dreams of not being able to fall asleep, thus completely confusing the fuck out of my already addled brain and leaving me exhausted in the morning), or Friday's cinema trip was more emotionally draining than I realised (it was a pretty busy screening for 1pm on a Friday). Either way I've spent a fair amount of time in bed, doing very little and/or dozing.

***

One thing I did do yesterday was watch a horror movie called The Dark Tapes, a found-footage anthology movie that felt to me like it was trying to fill the void left by the V/H/S series. Apparently it's been winning awards on the festival circuit and getting good reviews in lots of places... which makes me feel slightly guilty that I really didn't like it.

Probably some spoilers here )


***

Despite knowing better, I continue to play League of Legends on weekends. At this point I think I deserve every bad game I get just because I won't follow my own advice and not play. There is little more frustrating than going 4/0/1 in your lane making sure your lane opponent can do very little but lament his choices in life, then have your team come mid and feed him kill after kill so that he ends up carrying his team to victory.

***

I am vaguely toying with the idea of some Loki: Agent of Asgard fic stuff. It's kind of nibbling at me right now. We shall see.
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
My brother was the one who got me into comics. He bought me my first one when I was five (it was an issue of the UK Transformers series, where Circuit Breaker was trying to kill Jazz but stopped because it was Christmas and even traumatised psychotics in fetish circuit gear who want to kill all machines can appreciate the spirit of Christmas). So it's only fitting that, 32 years later, I'm now the one recommending comics and lending graphic novels to him whenever he visits.

He's just recently finished the entire run of Garth Ennis' Preacher, which he greatly enjoyed (mainly for the side characters, because he felt like Jesse Custer was less a protagonist and more of a hook to hang the story on, which I can't say I disagree with), so it was time to start him on some new ones. I'm currently holding off on showing him The Boys, because I think he needs some more understanding of Garth Ennis outside of 2000AD before we go there, so instead I gave him the introductory graphic novel of Hitman, which Ennis wrote for DC in the 90s. It's about a professional hitman who gets superpowers from an alien source (x-ray vision and limited telepathy) and decides to use them to elevate his hitman game instead of going all heroic. Ennis isn't a big fan of superheroes. It was one of Nick's favourite series, so we'll see how he likes it.

I also gave him the standalone Batman v Alien, the first three books of Ex Machina (guy gets the ability to communicate with and control machines from mysterious source, tries being a superhero for a bit, then gives that up and becomes mayor of New York) and the first four books of Secret Six (which started off as Villains United) which was Nick's absolute favourite comic book series with bells on. Six supervillains of various backgrounds (Deadshot, Catman, Ragdoll, Bane, Scandal Savage and Jeanette were the core six eventually, although there was a fair bit of special guest stars as well) team up as a mercenary group that sometimes does good things and sometimes bad, depending on the pay. It's notable for giving Bane a personality beyond "Break the Bat!" and having the homoerotic relationship between Deadshot ad Catman be all but canon. Oh, and also for portraying Deadshot as absolutely sociopathic, rather than the Will Smith version we saw in the Suicide Squad movie (not that there was a problem with that; I think the comics Deadshot would have been utterly impossible to have as an antihero on the big screen so they had to change things up). We'll see how he finds all of these. After all, as well as Transformers, my brother also introduced me to Judge Dredd, Zenith (by Grant Morrison, and therefore exactly as irreverent and weird as you'd expect), Strontium Dog and The Ballad of Halo Jones, among others. So I'm pretty much honour-bound to up the game now with my recommendations.
sareini: Nate Grey from the X-Men comics (Nate Grey)
My brother came down for a visit today and we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (yeah, it's a rare occasion where the UK gets a big film release early).

Non-spoiler thoughts:

What a fun film that was! I certainly thought it was as good and as funny as the first one, possibly even better in places. It filled in backgrounds for several characters (Yondu, or Blue Merle as I call him whenever I forget his name - hey, it's better than Blue Henry Lee Lucas - being the primary recipient there), as well as managing to introduce new characters and continue the arcs of established characters without leaving anyone with a thin edge of story wedge. It's also got the regular Stan Lee cameo - and it's one that really quite fits him - and a couple of others as well (Sylvester Stallone and Miley Cyrus among others). And Baby Groot is adorable.

Spoiler Thoughts. BIG spoilers. Read at your own risk )


Trailer-wise, I was personally just glad I didn't have to see yet another Fate of the Furious trailer. Instead, we got Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman. Oh, and Transformers: The Last Knight, wherein Optimus Prime appears to have gone and lost his marbles, and things explode, because Michael Bay.

So all in all, it's been a good day.
sareini: "Zombies are a girl's best friend" quote with a picture of Julie from Return of the Living Dead 3 (Zombies!)
I broke my DVD-buying fast today with a copy of Train to Busan.

I've not bought any DVDs for myself for several months now, for several reasons. The simplest reason is cost - even if I'm taking advantage of "4 for £20!" deals that's still £20 that could have gone on something else, like proper food or into a savings account. Another reason is that I've well and truly lost count of the number of DVDs (and the occasional Blu-Ray, for they have deals as well) I now have lying around the house that I've not gotten around to watching yet. I could probably host a film festival at this point. And finally, I haven't really needed to, what with Amazon Prime, Netflix, Shudder, the BFI Cinema Collection and the nebulous grey area that is Kodi TV and its add-ons. All of these combined are more than enough to ensure that I should never need to buy a physical copy of a film ever again.

But sometimes you just need to support a film with some actual money. Train to Busan was one of my favourite films of 2016, and it pretty much came out of nowhere and had a "limited release" so limited I didn't even hear about it until afterwards, at which point it was great fun to try to track it down. And I loved it not just because it was a zombie film, but because it did something original with the zombie attack scenario, was fun, high-energy and kept you guessing as to at least some of the eventual survivors. And if you enjoy a film enough, you should shell out some actual cash as a thank you to the filmmakers so they can make more films that you'll probably enjoy.

So after heading into town to get some cat treats (we were running low and they're an essential part of the pill-giving process, the cats will tell you), I ended up in my local branch of HMV. Whereupon it took me 10 whole minutes to actually find the DVD, hidden away in "World Cinema". I fail to see why we need a seperate "World Cinema" section in stores now, especially physical ones - it's really effectively just saying, "Films With Subtitles And Themes That You May or May Not Understand And Which Probably Have More Nudity". And most of the time no-one's going to go looking there unless they're like me and already know about the film. There's always at least two or three people blocking the aisles in front of the Horror section, trying to decide what vacuous straight-to-DVD movie they've been told is "Scariest Film of the Year!" to buy, but World Cinema is wide open (also as a side note: I wish HMV would widen it's aisles a bit; it's getting so I've seen people in wheelchairs just have to sit in the entrance and shout what films they want, which is hardly disability-friendly). If nothing else, mixing in World Cinema with the regular genres could at least give some people an education.

...I'm being pretentious film nerd again, aren't I?

***

Bonus! For those who were wondering, my Top 5 Films of 2016 were:

5) Blair Witch
4) Train to Busan
3) The Girl With All The Gifts
2) Don't Breathe
1) The VVitch

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").
sareini: "chocolate: the other major food group!" (Chocolate)
Because I found myself at a loose end today (mutter grumble limited release) I decided to go food shopping. Actually, I originally wanted to do this last night, but I fell asleep and when I woke up at half past midnight I just couldn't be bothered going out again even though we have a 24-hour Tesco, so today it was.

When I go food shopping, the food generally falls into one of three categories: food that doesn't need to be cooked; food that only requires a small amount of cooking; and food that requires a lot of prep and cooking, which means it will probably live in a cupboard or the freezer until the last possible minute. I try very, very hard to eat healthily, but decades of treating emotional distress with food and a tendency to not notice I need to eat until the last minute tend to get in the way of that. I've certainly gotten better though; I no longer buy cakes and cookies and whole bread and butter puddings that I eat uncooked (ask me about how I'm probably immune to salmonella by now!) and then some actual food as an afterthought. No, I bought things that can be made into casseroles with the slow cooker, and sauces that can go with Quorn... and a big container of potato salad. And a tub of hummous and some breadsticks. And Haagen-Daas because it was half-price. Hey, I never said I was completely better.

I did manage to beat most of my sweet cravings by buying greek yogurt in honey and salted caramel flavours, and a ton of fruit juice (although why is it so difficult to find grape juice now? All I can find is Welch's, and nearly all their varieties have stuff added to them.) I'm also trying out a Vimto Squeezy juice thing because, once again, Tesco are out of the Raspberry Lemonade Mighty Drops (I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and buy i bulk from eBay). The Vimto Squeezy is.... okay, I guess. It tastes a bit too... sweetened for consumption for my taste. I like a bit of bite in my fruit juices and cordials that aren't Ribena or elderflower-related.

In conclusion: I'm probably having potato salad for tea.

Vet Visit

Apr. 20th, 2017 01:01 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Today Lily went to the vets.

As I mentioned before, Lily has been suffering from cholangiohepatitis for several months now. Basically, it's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and comes in several forms, including acute and chronic. It should also be noted that we (the vets and I) are only 99% sure it's cholangiohepatitis as the only way to be 100% is with a liver biopsy, and with Lily's age (14) we're not comfortable with putting her under. But her symptoms match up exactly and she's responded to the treatment for cholangiohepatitis, hence the 99%.

We've been backing and forthing to the vets for this since November, and it's been quite the terrifying ride of emotions. My mental problems mean that I immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion for everything, whether I want to or not, and things weren't helped when, in January, the vet announced that she could feel a "mass" on Lily's liver. The "C" word wasn't explicitly mentioned (the vets know of my anxiety and panic disorders and so do their best not to freak me out without good reason) but it was hovering about in the exam room. So everyone was surprised when, after an ultrasound and x-ray, the results came back that Lily's liver was fine, and it was her bile ducts that were very swollen. (As an aside, Lily is such a placid and easy-going cat that they didn't have to sedate her for the ultrasound, even though they expected to. She just lay there like a flump and purred, apparently.)

So we've been treating her for the last few months with antibiotics and a low dose of steroids (so sadly Lily can't compete in the Cat Olympics, which is a shame as she'd have gotten gold in the "Sleeping Like a Cushion" event) and they've been a tremendous help. The daily vomiting stopped, her appetite came back (and brought a friend!), her jaundice completely cleared up, the "mass" shrunk to almost nothing and her mood increased tenfold. The only problem is that, whenever she stopped taking the antibiotics, the vomiting and depression would start coming back after a few days. Apparently with cholangiohepatitis it can take an antibiotic course of up to three months, and I think on and off we're approaching that time period now.

Last time we were at the vets she'd been off the antibiotics for a week and had started vomiting again just the night before, so we got another two weeks' worth of antibiotics which ran out yesterday. During that time Lily wasn't sick once, which I thought was pretty good evidence that it was the antibiotics doing most of the work. The question was, where do we go from here?

Going to the vets is very stressful for both me and (in this case) Lily - moreso for me although I'm sure Lily would argue otherwise. There's the whole leaving the house and having to interact with others issue, although I've learned to deal with that by basically pre-planning what I want to say to the vet and by talking to people's animals rather than them if someone in the waiting room starts up a conversation. There's worry over whether the taxi driver will be one of the ones that claims it's "extra" to take pets (it isn't) or tries to insist I put Lily, in her unsecured carrier, in a closed car boot while he takes corners at speed. I worry about my shopping in car boots; do you really think I'm putting my cat in one? Then there's the ever-present fear that I'll be there and the vet will tell me that there's nothing that can be done; or I've done something terribly wrong and Lily will be taken off me or put to sleep. It's not at all likely, I know, but that's irrational anxiety and paranoia for you. That last one usually starts a couple of days before the actual appointment too, so I'm operating on little to no sleep by the time the actual visit comes around.

Lily, on the other hand, has to go in a box, be taken somewhere strange, and then have a strange person poke, prod and squeeze her. Sometimes they violate her with a thermometer, and sometimes big dogs stick their noses up against the door of her box to see what she is. So it's hardly fun for her either, although she has become more fond of the box since she got given a blanket to go in it by one of the receptionists. I've even caught her sleeping in it sometimes...

Today I can say for sure that Lily was feeling fine, as she twigged to the fact that a vet visit was coming before I'd even called the taxi and went and hid behind the sofa. We then had a five-minute wrestling match where she tried to bring the sofa with her before I finally got her in the box and she glared daggers at me for the entire trip down. Thankfully it was pretty quiet there today - just a couple with a very happy, friendly black lab (who I thought was a male with a scrotum the size of a softball, but who turned out to be female and so whatever that was must have been uncomfortable) and an elderly couple with an equally elderly dog with an injured leg. Lily even tolerated the elderly dog, probably realizing there wasn't much it could do even if it wanted to.

The checkup revealed that Lily's jaundice is still at a minimum, as is the swelling around her liver and bile ducts. With that in mind and the evidence that the antibiotics have a much better effect on her than anything else she's been on, we're committing to a long-term dose with checkups every two or so weeks. Which are stressful but worth it to know that Lily's continuing to do fine.

As for Lily, she forgave me when we got home because she got more treats (and meds wrapped up in a Pill Pocket). I, on the other hand, am exhausted.
sareini: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
I had plans for going out on Friday. Nowhere special, just to the cinema that's 15-20 minutes from where I live, because a new film was coming out and I really wanted to see it.

The film in question is The Belko Experiment, and I've been excited about it since I first heard about it last Christmas. It's written by James Gunn (yes, that James Gunn) and directed by Greg McLean (of Wolf Creek infamy) and it's basically a Battle Royale clone - a few score workers for Belko Industries find themselves locked in a building and told to kill each other or be killed. Frankly, they had me at "Battle Royale clone", if only so I could throw things at it if it turned out to be not so good. My local cinema had had posters up for it, and last time I was there (seeing Free Fire with my brother) they even had a trailer. It's coming out this Friday, April 21. But yesterday when I went to look up the times it was showing, there was nothing there. Further digging revealed that it's not going to be shown at my cinema at all.

So I girded my loins and messaged the cinema on Facebook, asking them just what was up. To their credit, they got back to me within three minutes and were very informative... But it turns out The Belko Experiment is on a "limited release" and so the distributors get to choose what cinemas get to show it. And my cinema wasn't picked.

This is the second time this has happened this month as well. At the beginning of the month they had adverts up for the French cannibal/coming of age film Raw that I also wanted to see - even though I'm not that big a fan of cannibal movies - but when the release day came around the nearest cinema to me that showed it was 25 miles away. So I'm not at all impressed by this idea of "limited release". In this era of digital and with the big movie companies so psychotically pearl-clutching over piracy, you'd think that they'd be getting films out to as many cinemas as possible to get people to pay instead of heading online for the film. Even if I was able to travel the 25 miles minimum to see a film I wouldn't, unless it was the best film in the history of humanity or I was being paid a very large sum of money to do so. The other cinema in my area is showing it, but only in the evenings when I'm not comfortable travelling further than the corner shop and it would cost me a hell of a lot more as well (taxi fare, plus I have a card for my preferred cinema). You'd think the competition would also encourage them to show the film in more cinemas, but apparently not.

So my Friday afternoon has suddenly become free, and I'm rather annoyed by it.
sareini: "Do not fuck with Cthulhu" (Cthulhu)
Today was a horror movie day.

Elsewhere on the internet, I have a blog exclusively for reviewing horror movies, that's been going for several years now. Ideally I'd be posting to it every day or near enough to it, but as with everything else that means fighting the depression and finding the motivation to not only write the reviews, but to watch the films I want to review in the first place. So what I've started doing is watching two or three horror movies in one day and making notes about them as it goes, then writing them up later (by hand before I type them up, for there is is still a luddite inside of me and it's the only way I can make myself do more than one draft). Today I felt like I had a good amount of focus, so I watched The Void and The Bye Bye Man.

Brief thoughts on both films )


(I'll put links up to the proper reviews when I get them up.)

In other news, we're having a snap general election! Oh, what fun, more canvassers knocking on the door for weeks on end. I haven't even cleared up the last of the crap from the by-election in February...
sareini: A Procrastinator's work is never done! (Procrastination)
Today I have been mostly crocheting. Well, apart from the past hour or so, when I took a break to transfer some inactive icons from lj to here, because after four hours of crochet the little finger on my right hand had seized up rather painfully. My evening will be filled with more of the same.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my niece and my brother and the topic of her upcoming birthday came up. And, long story short, I volunteered to make her a cardigan.

Let me be clear, it's not that I don't want to make her a cardigan. It's that, at the best of time, my ability to focus on one task for a protracted period of time is somewhat limited, because the depression/anhedonia makes me lose interest because I either get sad, or something else catches my eye and I want to start that instead, thinking at the time that surely this will cheer me up. At the time, I was about three-quarters of the way through a cardigan for myself, with just the sleeves left to do, and the fact that I'd gotten that far was impressive in itself. But of course I've now put that on hold to make my niece's cardigan for her birthday in mid-May. And the focus problem is starting to raise its head. There's a couple of scarves I was working on I'd like to go back to. There's a cross-stitch piece I'd like to go back to. There's a whole bunch of other projects lying about the house that I should get finished at some point that suddenly all want attention. But I have to finish this cardigan before I can touch anything else. I have to.

It helps to watch stuff while I'm working on it. I had planned to watch an episode of the new MST3K this afternoon as I crocheted, but instead I got drawn into a True Crime Lists channel on YouTube that - for the most part - manages to stay away from all the usual cases that nearly every other channel ends up covering, often in inaccurate detail. No doubt I'll end up creeping myself out by the end of the night (possibly ending up watching old Crimewatch episodes as well for added unease) but for now it's okay. Mainly because it's daylight out.

Oh, and Callie is helping with the crochet as well. By "helping" I mean she keeps trying to eat the cotton yarn, then curls up on my legs and goes to sleep, leaving me unable to properly move my legs for hours until the cramping gets too much and I have to tip her off. Then she bites the yarn again in protest and we start all over again.


Cat Talk

Apr. 16th, 2017 02:41 pm
sareini: following my fish (delirium)
When I came back from the local shop a few minutes ago (highlight of the trip: three young boys giggling as I passed and then one of them being dared to shout, "Hi Beard Lady!" at me as I reached my front door; I thought about waving back but I didn't want to give them heart attacks) the cats were waiting for me at the door.

Since the last time I posted about the cats - last year - things have changed somewhat. Lily is still here, minus several teeth and recovering from a bout of cholangiohepatitis that's lasted for about six months now, but sadly Cracker had to be put to sleep last year after suffering a major stroke that left her blind and unable to walk properly. A couple of months after that, my niece called me up and said, basically, "Hey, do you still want a new cat? Because I've found a free one." And that's where Callie - short for Calliope Tulip Shodan - came in.

When Callie arrived here in the first week of June she was a tiny tuxedo kitten who was equal parts fascinated by and terrified of everything. Lily took one look at her and, despite being at least four times bigger than her, immediately developed a case of bottlebrush tail and started growling at her. Callie barely seemed aware of her though, because new smells! and things to climb on! and oh hey, what's this food doing lying unattended on the floor? So after that initial introduction Callie got to spend a few days in a room of her own, where she terrified the life out of me by climbing up onto high objects and leaping about like a mountain goat.

Lily is actually a very easy-going cat, and once she was assured that she wasn't going anywhere she started taking an interest in Callie; sitting outside the door to Callie's room and sniffing; occasionally calling to her through the door. Their first few supervised visits still ended in growls, hissing and at least one cat puffing themselves up, but it actually only took a couple of weeks before the two of them could be trusted to wander the house freely without the risk of fur flying everywhere. There were still spats - while Lily still likes to play despite her senior years (she was always a bit sad that Cracker would always flee rather than play with her), she didn't have the energy or tolerance for the sheer amount of time Callie wanted to play, so there were still growls and paw smackdowns. And while she was at her illest with the cholangiohepatitis, she wanted to play even less, and my feet suffered during that time as Callie would take out her frustrations by biting anything that moved. But now?

Well, yesterday Callie spent over a minute trying to scruff Lily, who was lying on her back in the traditional "cat belly trap" pose", so she could drag her across the room for reasons known only to her. Callie's still not nearly as big as Lily, nor will she ever be, of course, so she was getting absolutely nowhere. Lily put up with this for a while, then reached out and gave a single whap to Callie with a paw, got up and ambled away. Two minutes later they were rolling across the floor together like a furry tumbleweed.

I'd say they're getting on.


A small black and white cat sitting in a slow cooker. (not plugged in)


A large ginger cat lying on a platform of a cat tree after ingesting catnip

New Home

Apr. 15th, 2017 08:52 pm
sareini: watchmen icon (watchmen)
Well, it looks like I'm moving in here now. I admit, I wasn't paying too much attention to things until I saw some other friends (on FB) talking about moving over to here, which made me curious, so I went and looked into why, and... the new TOS says what? Well, bugger that for a game of soldiers.

So then there was the game of "Remember what username goes with which password", closely followed by the decision of which username to use (turns out I've made a few new blogs over the years), and then the revelation that one random post had over 500 spam comments on it (closely followed by the even more horrifying revelation of what the spam comments were advertising, all of which I had to delete manually). Then there was the ceremony of the importing, which is still going on and there'll have to be a second, smaller ceremony to get all my icons as there wasn't space first time around. And in the meantime, I figured it was time for an entry. Which brings us to now.

Really, this should be good for me, as I've been saying/thinking/planning for a while now to start blogging more often, and not just on my horror movie blog, which is a whole other kettle of fish. Hopefully the move will give me an impetus to try to make at least one entry a day (that's not going to be something along the lines of, "Spent day in bed, then playing computer games, then in bed some more. Fed cats. Fed self.")

(Also, why only that one post? No other post had a single spam comment on it, but somehow that one post attracted them all. It is a mystery...)

Panic

Mar. 20th, 2016 05:04 pm
sareini: (doctor)
I'm sitting here this afternoon, inbetween lifting Cracker off the laptop keyboard every few minutes because she's gotten way too overexcited over some food I'm trying to eat, and panicking over the idea of leaving the house tomorrow.

I've suffered from panic attacks for several years now, but they really hit the fan after Nick's death, of course. They'd be easier to deal with if I could predict them in any way, but really just about anything can set them off. A few weeks ago I was having regular attacks over the idea that Lily might have some sort of hideous fatal mouth or jaw or tooth cancer because she was doing strange things with one side of her mouth and occasionally pawing at it. Turns out she was just losing a tooth, and she's now fine and it doesn't slow her down in the slightest (then again, Cracker has absolutely no teeth and I'm still not sure she's even noticed). So generally they tend to focus on worrying about the cats (Nick used to be included in that too...), my own health or doing regula everyday things that now terrify me.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother suggested to me that, if/when my PIP is finally sorted out, I should consider getting the card from the new local cinema that allows me to go see as many films as I want for only £16.90 a month. He figured it would be a good thing for me, as I like films, of course, it would get me out of the house and it's a pretty low-effort social activity. I could just sit in a dark corner of the cinema with my over-priced bottle of water and pack of Malteasers and enjoy films without having to resort to torrenting if I wanted to see them when they actually came out. I have to admit, he's probably right.

Anyway, this week I got my Hardship Fund cheque from the university, which was £300, and my brother informed me last night that he's managed to secure another £300 for me by selling my mother's old jewellry that he found in the attic recently (I don't wear jewellry very often, apart from sometimes earrings and very occasionally necklaces/pendents. Most of my mother's stuff was rings and stuff with coffee beans on that I used to buy her when I was young, because she was a coffee fiend and I figured she'd appreciate the connection). So I'm currently in a place where I can pay several upcoming bills and have some money left over, which is something of a rarity for me over the last few months. So, flush with success over yesterday's trip to Tesco's during the daytime, last night I had the idea of going to the cinema on Monday.

And then my brain started to think about that idea, and then everything went straight to hell.

Outside is scary. Talking to strangers is scary. Being around other people is scary, even if you might be going at a time when no-one else would likely be going to see the film you want to see. People will stare at me, laugh at me, talk about me behind my back. What if someone sees me and reports me to the DWP for daring to do something outside the house instead of sitting inside and being a penniless miserable crazy person? What if something goes wrong? What if the house catches fire while I'm out, or someone tries to break in, or something else happens to one of the cats? Too many variables, all of them out of my control, and they sink into my stomach and churn and churn until I'm practically frozen with fear over something that's still theoretical.

I have no-one to talk me down any more. Well, no-one close enough to do it immediately. Nick used to have that job, obviously. When they can the cats try to help too - well, Lily does, nuzzling and licking me (and occasionally nipping my nose) to try to take my mind off things. Cracker tries too, but her attention span isn't the best. Beyond that, the only people I talk to on a semi-regular basis are my brother who calls every evening, and a couple of people who I talk to sometimes over IMs. The social isolation makes the panic worse, and then makes it worse again by making it difficult to deal with it. Most of the people who said they would stay in touch with me after Nick's death have moved on, much as I feared, so that's out as well.

One of my hopes when I started writing here again was that putting all of this down would help me somehow. Putting my feelings down into words does help me to see things a little clearer, but not with the actual calming down from panic attacks. I've got no idea of how I'm going to deal with that.

So I'm just going to sit here on the sofa, watching YouTube and avoiding doing anything productive.
sareini: default (chocolate)
I went shopping in the daytime today.

That probably doesn't sound like too big an accomplishment; like it would be on par with "successfully posting a letter" or "having a telephone conversation with someone you vaguely know", but it's a pretty big one for me. Even before Nick's death and my complete breakdown and withdrawl from society, I was pretty socially avoidant and anxious about crowds, so now it's more like throwing myself willingly into a vat of acid with acid-proof sharks swimming around in it.

Normally, if I have to do any grocery shopping that can't be done at the corner shop 100m from my house, I do it in the middle of the night. After all, what's the point of having a 24-hour Tesco's in the area if you're not going to go shopping at 3am? Also it's quiet, there are very few other shoppers around, you don't have to get in a queue for perusing the Clearance shelves and the staff usually play classic rock or party tunes to keep themselves awake as they stock shelves. For someone like me, it's all in all a good time for shopping.

But at the weekends Tesco's closes at midnight on Saturdays because of the Sunday Trading Laws (bah) and so when I realised I needed to go shopping today I was faced with a decision - either wait until the early hours of Monday morning or go during the daytime today. In the end I decided I didn't want to wait. Also I needed batteries.

For me, going out at any time is fraught with anxiety, but daytime is the worst. There's too many people around, and I constantly feel that they're all looking at me, judging me, thinking and talking about me, mocking me. It doesn't help that I've currently got what would be several days' beard growth on a man adorning my face, of which I'm horribly self-conscious about but also too depressed to do anything about (it's a vicious circle) And supermarkets are always crowded in the daytime, especially at weekends. If I could I'd keep my eyes glued to the floor the entire time I was there so as not to make eye contact with anyone for even a second, but that way leads to being run over by a trolley. On the other hand, I'm probably one of the few shoppers who actually notices the people in the disability scooters. I'm not good in the taxi journeys there and back, either; too much traffic on the road for one, and any vehicle that comes too close (in my mind) to the car makes me flinch away from the side as though it's about to come through the door to punch me; and I live in constant fear that the taxi driver will try to start a conversation with me - especially if it's a driver who's picked us up in the past, because they inevitably ask where Nick is and then things get even more awkward.

But I made it through. I had to wait at the Clearance shelves for about five minutes because a woman with quite obvious OCD was there arranging everything on the shelves according to food type and size (not a shop worker, just a customer), but I can understand that urge and it seemed to be making her happy. I managed to not break down and buy a 12-box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (even though they had new Cookie Dough-filled ones) and bought foods that, when combined with other foods, will make complete meals and will last me a good while before I need to buy more. I also bought foods to snack on while watching stuff on the TV. And I bought the cats a treat of Sheba Tuna with Prawns, which was well-received.

Forgot to buy the batteries though.
sareini: default (Good Omens - Witch)
Depression problem #23: random bouts of insomnia. Still, I can't complain too much; I've got a cat by my head, another lying purring on my boobs like they're a built-in cat shelf, and Iain Duncan Smith has resigned.

The way I found out went a little something like this: I was chatting on IMs with a friend, and the conversation went a little something like this:

Him: City of Titans will happen. I still have hope.
Me: I will sacrifice a Tory to make it happen.
Him: That's not saying much. I also don't think they're worth much.
Me: Yeah, but I'm not going to kill anything I actually *like*, am I?
Him: I imagine their worth is like the Zimbabwe dollar.
...
HOLY SHIT [KAT] YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO IT
Me: [halfway through talking about something unconnected] Who did I-
Him: Literally this very moment Iain Duncan Smith just resigned.
Me: Holy crap I'm good.


The only bit of this that's causing confusion is that he's resigned because he disagrees with the proposed cuts to ESA and PIP that I was talking about yesterday. Which means that he's technically on our side - a concept my mind is having a few problems wrapping itself around right now, as Iain Duncan Smith has traditionally been the equivalent of a Penny Dreadful villain stalking the disabled with his his previous record. The fucking bastard Tory government is desperately trying to spin this back into something vaguely positive ("We totally don't understand all the fuss about this; it was all agreed in our weekly meetings over a glass of freshly squeezed baby's blood!") but it's looking increasingly likely that the cuts now aren't going to go through - at least not the way they are right now, at least. Oh, it's still very likely that the government will try to sneak them through somehow, but the sheer number of people in both Parliament and the House of Lords now who are opposing them are going to make that almost impossible.

And I've had requests to work my magic on George Osborne next. Watch this space...
sareini: default (Friday Five)
1. Do you consider yourself young, old or middle aged?
2. When you think of your parents at your current age, did you consider them older than dirt?
3. What were you really into when you were a kid?
4. Who was your best friend in elementary school?
5. What do you bring with you everywhere you go?

1. I think, at 36, I'm officially in the "middle-aged" category now. Sometimes I feel older though, because really, I've been through an awful lot for 36 years.

2. When my parents were 36 I wasn't even alive, so I tend to think of them as young. Which is strangely contradictory when you consider I now think of myself as "middle-aged"...

3. Pretty much the same things I'm into now, actually. Transformers, super heroes, comic books, cartoons... I also watched a lot of Real Ghostbusters cartoons, for example. And of course because I was a precocious freak I was also into reading all kinds of stuff about UFOs and ghosts (and believing nearly everything I read to boot, which is the only real difference between then and now). Basically, I don't appear to have grown up very much.

4. In primary school I didn't have many friends. I had one friend who was friends with me for about three days because we had the same shoes, then she decided she hated me because I dared to talk to someone else (5-year-old politics!). I had a friend called Lynette and another called Hugh for a few years, then when I changed schools it was a girl called Ruth and a boy called Mark.

5. My keys and my phone. And my numerous dysfunctions. Not that I go many places.

(from http://thefridayfive.livejournal.com/139534.html)
sareini: default (lovely-scream)
Over here in the UK this week we had a Budget, which is basically when a politician who has somehow been given control of the nation's money sets out his plans to waste that money for the next year or so. It's all very thrilling and fun for all the family, provided you're rich. This year's Budget has had a couple of extra fun things - a "Sugar Tax" on soft drinks (joke's on them; I'm perfectly happy drinking water) and the inevitable cuts to disability benefits, which sadly do affect me.

My own ongoing experiences with the DWP )

Currently, the fucking bastard Tory government (that's their full name, don't believe the people who claim they're just called "Conservatives") are trying to make things even worse for disabled people claiming these benefits as well. One thing they want to do is cut the basic ESA benefit for all new claiments, regardless of marital status or anything else, to £73.10 a week - which as I've already said, is all but impossible to live on. The other thing they want to do is reduce the "scoring" for whether you can dress yourself unaided or use the toilet unaided in the PIP assessment "because those people will already have aids to help them at home and so don't need any extra money", thus reducing the amount of money people can get from PIP by anything from £30 to £50 a week.

Imagine that. You've already had to go through the humiliation and probable soul-crushing acceptance that you can't use the toilet by youself, which is then added to when you have to admit it to an uncaring government official. The government then turns around and tells you that you just aren't disabled enough for them, now kindly piss off and die in a gutter somewhere away from the rich people. For all my problems (and there are a lot of them) I am regularly thankful that incontinence isn't one of them (except maybe for when I drink too much orange juice and then get up and suddenly realise that I really should have gone to the bathroom 15 minutes previously and now have to get up the stairs with my legs crossed, or when I have a sneezing fit because apparently I'm older than I used to be, or at the very least my bladder muscles are), because short of being completely confined to a bed or wheelchair I can't think of a bigger indication of "needs assistance to live the same life as everyone else". And yet the government have decided that it's not good enough any more. "Disgusting" is too mild a word for it.

(I do score points on the "needs reminders/prodding to dress self" scale; not because of any physical problems but because I just don't see the point of doing so. Depression has made it so that I just don't care what I look like most days, especially since I don't leave the house and my makeshift bed/sofa most of the time anyway, but I admit that I find it easier to explain the stupidity of the "toilet needs" cut better.)

Right now, a rare thing is happening though. The government is actually facing opposition to these plans, and not just from the other political parties. Even other Tories are standing up and going, "Actually, this is going too far," So there's talk of possible u-turns on one hand, while others in the government are attempting to hunker down and insist that these changes are going through regardless of what anyone else thinks, and they're good for people, honest, and we're totally spending more on disabled people every year...

Inevitably, these news stories bring out comments from the Peanut Gallery as well. For the most part, it's actually been quite surprising - the majority of people I've seen have been agreeing that disabled people are being treated abysmally and that it needs to be stopped. Of course, there's still the occasional neanderthal who has to come out with the usual lines of, "But I pay my taxes and no-one helps me!" or "But there's benefit scrougers out there and they need to be stopped!" Firstly, I've paid my taxes as well, and the difference between you and I is that you aren't currently classed as a suicide risk, so shut the fuck up right now. Secondly, yes, there are a minority of people who game the system. There's also a minority of people in the country who break the law, but we don't put the entire British population in prison because of them, do we? You wouldn't think you'd see people actually jealous of the disabled, but wonders never cease.

Welcome to life in Cameron's Britain, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the disabled get shived in the stomach and left to bleed out in the gutters.
sareini: default ("bad century")
Six years. It's been a while. Stuff's happened, obviously, since I was last here.

Nick died. November 17 2015 - so exactly 4 months ago. I got woken up at 4am by the cats biting my elbow (well, Lily was biting as Cracker has no teeth), heard the silence of the house and realised it was not a good silence, went to his room and found him dead in bed. Bronchopneumonia and sepsis, it turned out to be. He'd had a cough for several weeks but we'd thought nothing of it, mainly because of an advert that had been on TV a couple of years previously that went, "Had a cough for more than a few weeks? It could be CANCER!" and so whenever I mentioned the cough we'd laugh about that and he'd tell me it was nothing serious. All the other symptoms were masked by the ridiculous amount of painkillers Nick needed to take on a daily basis to do things like get out of bed and move about - he was on 40mg of morphine at the end because of the state of his knees and back. So neither of us knew anything until it was way too late for anything to be done.

It was very odd, telling his friends and family that he had died and then immediately following it up with, "He didn't kill himself." Because for the last few years, Nick's mental problems had been getting the better of him as well. I'd been his full-time carer for several years at that point, and it's pretty safe to say that looking after him was really the only thing that was keeping me going day-to-day. Because after his death I more or less had a complete mental breakdown myself and am now quite nearly as crazy as he was, albeit with my own spin on things. I don't leave the house very much any more, talk to anyone or do very much, because the outside world is really just too big and scary and overwhelming to deal with now. And it has far too many people.

So it's just me and the cats now. And it's two new cats too. Sandy sadly died in 2011 of stomach cancer, and Suki followed him 3 months later of old age and just being lonely. So now I have Lily, who's a ginger flump who barely makes a sound except when she's playing, but who loves to climb up onto the sofa or bed with me and snuggle and lick my nose (and occasionally nip it as a game). She's 12 now, but she neither looks it nor acts like it, which is a good thing as I don't think I could cope with losing anyone else for a good while. The other cat is Cracker, who we got about 6 months after Lily because she was getting a little bit too flump-y and we hoped that a playmate might help her lose some weight. Cracker is a skinny black cat with no teeth and inflammatory bowel disease, which means she uses the litter box a lot- hence her full title sometimes being Cracker the Amazing Pooping Cat. She came from a house with 21 other cats after being rescued from the streets, which made her the friendliest cat in the world, albeit with a lack of understanding about personal space that's remarkable, even for cats, and also one of the most anxious. She doesn't like being on her own - even more so now that it's just the three of us, and howls her displeasure if she finds herself alone in a room for more than 1o minutes.

I'm at university again, this time studying Creative Writing part-time. Well, that's the theory anyway, as I'm currently more or less on extenuating circumstances leave while I try to get myself back on my feet. My tutors are all very understanding, actually, as apparently I'm quite good at my course and they want to keep me on, but it's still difficult to get into classes when I can't face going out and I've got no money to do so anyway. Because of course, with being completely snooker loopy comes the fun of being unable to work and having to claim disability benefits... but we'll go into the fun and games of that in another post. Just rest assured that it's not really possible to live on £73 a week when £50 of that goes on heating and electricity, and that if it wasn't for the help of others I wouldn't have lasted this long.

I decided to start posting here again because I need somewhere to put my thoughts down, and because this is, in theory at least, a way in which I can reach out to other people in some semblance of socialisation. Because most days, other than the cats and my brother who calls every day, I don't talk to anyone at all, and that's probably not helping my mental state. I'm going to try to post something every day, even if it comes down to, "Still here, still not doing much but watching twitch.tv on the sofa." because at least I'm trying then.

Also, I can play with all my icons.
sareini: default (Default)
To counter my last post of rage about a stupid team member, I decided I should do a counter-post, listing a couple of the great teams I've been on in my MMO adventures.

1. The MM team of WIN! )

2. The LFD group that was a lawnmower )

tl;dr - sometimes, good teams happen.

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