The Scamp and Mental Health Awareness Week

As social media gears up to celebrate mental health awareness week (14-20th of May) in the UK, I am gearing up for the onslaught of cliche inspirational posts that make me want to bang my head against the wall. This year the focus of the week is on stress and whether or not we are coping well.

I can already tell you that I am not coping well. Anyone who has ever undertaken a PhD will tell you that the end of the write-up is no picnic.

I saw a post the other day that said, “You are not your mental illness”.  Maybe you aren’t your mental illness, but I am very much mine….and I don’t think I am alone in that thought.

I am sad more than I am happy. I struggle with crippling self-doubt. I find it hard to leave my flat for days at a time because I am worried about the what people see when they look at me. I’m anxious about my future and often find sleep elusive. I cry out of frustration when I can’t do things well the first time. I constantly feel like the universe is shitting on my head while a little black rain cloud follows me around. I am extremely hard on myself and the people around me, and they often bare the brunt of my moods and feelings.

But, just as I am my illness, I am part of my treatment. I take my medication every day. I see my therapist every two weeks. I do yoga and practice mindfulness to slow down the negative thoughts and racing heartbeat. I wear bright colours and crazy prints so that people focus on my clothes and not my face. I work hard

I watch a lot of baby animal videos.

I’m one of the lucky ones though. I can afford to get my meds, afford to get help and have a really great support system.

Today is American Mother’s Day, and I called my biggest supporter to wish her a good day. I haven’t seen her in 6 months, and haven’t even really been able to Facetime with her in the last couple of weeks. She still checks in every day, tells me it is going to be okay and reminds me that there is a lot of good that comes from working hard and occasionally asking for help.

She also funds some of my adventures.

So, for mental health awareness week, I am going to embrace my mental health challenges and continue to work towards learning how to keep my depression and anxiety from running my life. It is a process. Last week was a really great week for me. Everything went my way and was smooth sailing. The two weeks before that were stressful and draining. It’s a balance that I am still learning to navigate. I don’t often get it right, but I have a therapist and a clear plan of action to help manage the bad days.

 

If you are struggling in the UK, here is a helpful site to get help:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

If you are struggling in the US, you can find help here:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help

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The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 18

I like big books and I cannot lie. I have a really flimsy bookcase in my dining area that is full of books that I want to read, that I’ve read and that I want to hold on to forever. The challenge this week is to discuss the book I am currently reading, and one that I just finished reading.

I’m in the middle of trying to get my UK driving licence, so the last book I read was the Highway Code for the UK. I need to know that inside and out to help me driving here. I have my first driving lesson tomorrow, and I am going to attempt to learn how to drive a manual car for the first time (I already apologise to all those that will be on the road near me tomorrow).

The book that I am currently reading is Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. According to Goodreads.com:

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

Unfortunately, McNamara died before she completed the book. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt gave complete access to the lead researcher on the case and he finished the book so that it could be put out for publication. On the 24th of April 2018, the Golden State Killer was captured. I don’t want to say that the book is the reason he was finally found, but I don’t think all the attention that the book brought to the case hurt.

The book is well written but incredibly disturbing. I only read bits of it at a time because the GSK was a violent rapist and sadistic killer. I’d heard about the book from my favourite true crime podcast My Favourite Murder. They did a fantastic podcast detailing the capture of the killer and spoke to the man who completed the research.

It is worth a listen, and for those of you interested in true crime, the book is worth a read.

Alas, I must put all of this to the side for the moment so I can get back to my thesis and finish a draft chapter that should have been completed three weeks ago.

The fun never ends. Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 16

 

I’m really not good with the challenge this year. I have not come close to 16 posts, and while I would like to blame it on the fact that I am busting ass on my PhD, it is really because I am just lazy by the end of the day. I feel really bad neglecting this part of my world, especially since I started the writing challenge to help get me through my dark and twisty moments.

I’m also slowly creeping my way to 500 posts….not that I ever thought I would get that far.

The writing challenge for this week is a fun one for me. I’ve been tasked with writing about the podcasts that I like to listen to. I spend a lot of time on public transportation and die a little bit inside whenever I forget to charge my iPod. A few months ago I might have apologised for this crazy list of my favourite podcasts, but today, I am not.

I like to be entertained, I like to laugh, and I like true crime. There is a very very very very very strong language warning with all of these. If you don’t like explicit sex, then steer clear of one (you’ll know which one), and if you are not a fan of poop talk, stay away from You Mom’s House.

Here are the podcasts you can find on my iPod:

Your Mom’s House

http://www.yourmomshousepodcast.com/

This is a comedy podcast hosted by Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky. They are the power couple of comedy. Each of them is funny on their own, but together, they kill me. They are crude, lewd, and socially unacceptable, and I love them both. I want to be friends with them. The topics range from comedy to current events, and more often than not, they delve into the seedier parts of the interwebs to bring the bizarre to the forefront.

Here is an episode featuring the star of the next podcast on the list. Be warned. It’s graphic and might be offensive to some.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience

http://podcasts.joerogan.net/

Powerful Joe Rogan: comedian, UFC commentator, and believer of educating the world hosts a podcast that ranges from getting high and hanging out with his friends, to commentating UFC fights, to discussing current events with experts in the field. I can remember the first time I heard this podcast. My brother and I were driving to the wombmate’s rehearsal dinner. I was not looking forward to seeing most of the paternal side of the family, and my brother put it on for the drive. It happened to be an episode when they had all eaten way too many mushrooms, so I hated it. My brother insisted that I keep with it, and it was through this podcast that I was introduced to Joey Diaz, Bert Kreischer, Ari Shaffir (who I got to see perform in Edinburgh). There are times when the podcast is nothing but silly, and times when it is very serious. One of the best episodes lately was one with the ultra-conservative Ben  Shapiro. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, but this podcast was so good and made me respect him a lot more.

 

Here is a bonus of Joey Diaz. Explicit content. He’s wildly inappropriate. He’s a Cuban comedian who has lived quite the life that has included everything from kidnapping, jail, drugs, and running numbers.

 

My Dad Wrote a Porno

This one kills me. It is exactly as the title suggests. A guy is reading the porn that his dad is self-publishing. It is horribly written, and hilarious. I started listening to this with the heterolifemate, and we spent many a long bus ride through the Baltics laughing and dying over the crazy things (and people) Belinda does. I saw a live show this summer during the festival. I went by myself and in a moment of stupidity, I volunteered to go on stage and act like Belinda….of course it was to act out one of the sex scenes in the book to demonstrate that what was written was not humanly possible. I ended up getting felt up by a tiny Asain lady named Joy and regretting my life choices.

Here is the first episode. It is graphic, x rated, and horrible. On my worst days though it makes me laugh until I cry.

 

My Favourite Murder

https://www.myfavoritemurder.com/

My Favorite Murder is the hit true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I’m a major muderino. These two women are neurotic, riddled with anxiety and dependency issues, and like to play fast and loose with facts sometimes, but they are absolutely fantastic. Each week they present a murder, or survivor story. They are very pro victim, and often do a really amazing job highlighting the strength of the survivors by telling their stories in a very authentic way. They acknowledge that not all the victims are perfect, that they are not perfect, and that the podcast is not perfect, and because they seem so real and genuine, it makes you feel like you are in the room with them while they are sometimes stumbling their way through a story. They are very open about their struggles with mental health, and often remind listeners that it is okay to seek help and that things will get better. They also have the best catchphrases

Stay sexy and don’t get murdered

Call your dad you’re in a cult

Fuck politeness

Stay out of the forest

They tend to get really sidetracked at the start, so if you get tired of the nonsense and just want the murder, skip ahead about 15 min.

 

The Last Podcast on the Left

https://www.lastpodcastontheleft.com/

According to their site:

Last Podcast on the Left barrels headlong into all things horror — as hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski cover dark subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, iconic hauntings, the history of war crimes, and more. Whether it’s cults, killers, or cryptid encounters, Last Podcast on the Left laughs into the abyss that is the dark side of humanity.

They do a lot of research for each podcast and cover all kinds of strange and fascinating things. I like listening to LPOTL because I really feel like I am getting a history lesson.

 

True Crime Garage

https://www.truecrimegarage.com/

Each week Nic & The Captain get in the garage and talk true crime and drink beer. This is another one that feels like it has been well researched, and they often highlight little-known cases to not only honour the victims but in some cases, help solicit listeners for help new information to help solve the crimes. Like all the true crime podcasts I listen to, they are very respectful of the people in the cases that they present.

 

Loveline

Started in 1983, Loveline was a call-in radio show on 106.7 KROQ in Califoria. Callers would ask the hosts of the show everything from relationship and sex questions to questions about addiction recovery. Dr. Drew Pinsky hosted the show and his co-hosts included Adam Carolla and Mike Catherwood. The show ended in 2016 and is now a weekly podcast with new hosts. I really only like the Adam Carolla and Mike Catherwood eras of the show. The episodes from these eras used to be available for download, but when the show went off the air, so did the podcasts. I’ve almost worked my way through all the episodes that I had downloaded, and I will be really sad when I finish. I used to listen to Loveline on my way home from Cal State Fullerton…if I had it on loud enough, I couldn’t hear myself cry after class.

 

 

So there you have it. These are the voices that are between my ears when I am on the bus, pretending to run on the canal, or walking through the Royal Mile. If you aren’t familiar with any of these, take a listen. Just be warned, harsh language, extreme content and disturbing subjects abound in these.

The Scamp has Imposter Sydrome

One of the worst things you can do when you are sick is google your symptoms….except for that one time WebMD said I probably had Lupus.

I digress. The worst thing that you can do is google your symptoms because chances are the internet is going to tell you that you are dying within three months. Last week I went to a department-sponsored lunchtime lecture on the notion of Imposter Syndrome. This pesky problem is the feelings of inadequacy that can cause a person to believe they are not worthy of their position and live in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Until last week, I did not count myself among the countless academics that suffer from IS. I have always felt that I am a good little academic research monkey who belong in higher education. I would like to think that I am a good teacher, and that my students are getting the most from me.

Now, I am not so sure. I am two weeks behind schedule with my writing and I am terrified of sending the drafts that I have to my team because I am sure that they are going to tell me that they suck and aren’t worthy of a PhD. I’ve never actually gotten this far in the PhD process, so I am not sure how to handle this little valley of shit that I find myself in.

It sucks.

At the end of the month, I am turning in an application to become a teaching fellow in the Higher Education Academy. I was going to apply for associate fellow because the university doesn’t offer me teaching opportunities, but have decided to aim big and use the rest of the teaching I do to help justify the award. I am going to do a 45-minute presentation of how great I am and hope that after that they decide that I am worthy of the award. This whole time I have felt like it was easy to provide examples that demonstrate my teaching and assessment skills, but not so much this week.

Now I am wondering if I let the ‘fake til you make it’ philosophy give me a sense of overconfidence and if I really should be worried about how good my chances are for the award. I don’t like this feeling. I like feeling confident, like knowing that I am capable of doing all the work that is in front of me.

But, on the upside, it is nice to know I am not alone in these feelings.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 12

The challenge this week is to write about a word I overuse.

Easy. The word I overuse is: fine.

I must say at least 50 times a day that I am fine.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how I feel.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how my work is going.

Fine seems to be my go-to when I have to make sacrifices to do what other people want, regardless of if I want it.

I’m in a mood this week after accidentally stumbling on a wedding photo of an ex. I’m not upset that he is married. He cheated on me six years ago. I do not want to be the one in the photo with him. I’m upset that I had to see it and therefore acknowledge that he exists. I’d rather live in ignorance, and pretend he no longer exists. Out of sight, out of mind. Now he isn’t.

And during a month when I am worried about my future; when I’ve gotten rid of people that are bad for me; when I tried really hard not to lose people who are bad for me; when I was stuck in cold Edinburgh instead of visiting my nephews in warm California.

So I say that I am fine, but I am not really fine.

On the plus side, I saw the sun today and went out wearing a jacket not made for snow, and I watched the sunset at 7:30 this evening….which means it is finally spring.

I like spring. Everything comes back to life in spring.

 

The Scamp Remembers

 

The woman in these photos is Frances Ann. Today is her 80th birthday.

Or, it would be if she believed in wearing her seatbelt. When I was in the third grade she died when she overcorrected her car on the highway. The car flipped and she went through the windshield. Her best friend was in the car with her and survived. Before the funeral, her friend insisted on telling the story of what happened. I remember the crazy curved couch that everyone was sitting on. She was sitting with her husband, my mom, aunt and grandpa sat and listened.

Sometimes I think it would be better for my mom if she hadn’t heard the story.

I can’t remember what her voice sounds like. I can’t remember the way she felt when I hugged her.

I can remember the way she smelled. Sometimes I go to the cosmetic counter at the shopping centre near my house and spray the sample of Red Door into the air just to trigger a memory.

I can remember where we stood when we spread her ashes in Indian Canyon. I’ve only been there one other time since then, and it was to spread my grandpa there after he died.

I can remember the horrible photo she drew of me when I had to go to the emergency room for an ear infection. The picture was me in a hospital gown with my butt exposed and a doctor with a very very large needle ready to give me a shot. In the butt. I have a few scarves that belonged to her with me now.

They smell like my mom.

When my mom smiles, she looks like my grandma….or at least how I remember my grandma in my head.

It is a smile that involves teeth. I know this because it is the same smile that I have (most people tell me they know I am Amercian because of my smile…all those teeth).

This is a hard day for my mom. She can’t call her mom and wish her a happy birthday. She can’t call her when one of her children (cough the oldest one cough) drives her crazy. It is a hard time for me because I have to think about the day when I won’t have my mom.

and that terrifies me.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with my great uncle who was in town on holiday. We haven’t seen each other in 10 years or so, but he knew exactly who I was when I met him for brunch. He gave me the best compliment that anyone could ever give me: he told me I look and act exactly like my mother.

2015-06-30 18.52.19 Since my mom sometimes looks and acts like my grammy, and I look and act a lot like my mommy, it must mean that I am a little like my grammy too.

I’d like to think that she would enjoy what I am doing with her smile.

The Scamp’s 30 Thoughts Before She Turns 31

In about an hour I will turn 31 (Let’s be honest, by the time I finish this post because I stop and start a lot when I am writing).  I have no idea where my 30th year went, but turns out it is almost done.

I’ve been in a very reflective mood lately as I start to prepare for the analysis chapter of my thesis (ladies and gentledudes, I have 40 THOUSAND words written so far!!!!!! I’m about 20k or so away from the minimum word count, so I am a happy happy girl) and I realised that I am finally looking at the light at the end of my educational tunnel. I’m a little freaked out by that since I have been a student since I was 18.

So, while my mind wandered, these were the 30 things that I have reflected on while I am waiting for the stroke of midnight.

30. I can survive a snowstorm. The key to surviving a snowstorm in Scotland is making sure I buy a lot of milk and loaves of bread. I survived 5 days of snow by drinking a lot of tea and writing over 8,000 words for my results chapter (and I was wearing my comfy Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer slippers and fleece pjs). That being said…it is almost springtime, so the Siberian weather better chill the fuck down.

29. Birthday cards are better when they sing to you. My mom sent me a birthday card that is a little beach in a bottle and it sings when you pop the cork. It makes me laugh.

28. I am a cranky Yenta in public. I cannot stand rude people, and as I get older, I have a harder time not yelling at people.

27. I need to get serious about my diet. I’m not fat, not even overweight, but I am so used to seeing myself super skinny, that right now I feel a little pudgier and a little less yoga goddess. I want to go back to the yoga goddess.

26. $7.99 press on sticker manicures give me life. Impress are my favourite (https://www.superdrug.com/Kiss/Kiss-Impress-Gel-Fake-Nails—Swept-Away/p/740254)

25. I run like Pheobe

 

24. 4 jobs are too many.

23. UKVI hates me. Visa nightmares, a million rules, and so many forms to fill out.

22. I can survive Albania.

21. It is okay to let go of friendships that I thought were supposed to last forever. I spent a lot of time being really upset about losing a friend I had since high school. She, on the other hand, never gave it a second thought. Meanwhile, I neglected friendships with people that actually love and care about me (sorry, you know who you are).

20. Slow cookers are not the enemy (okay, this one took me two years to learn….and the heterolifemate was the one that did the cooking)

19. My Spanish is not as good as I thought (and my language students do not let me forget it).

18. Missing the birth of my nephew was a lot harder on me than I thought it would be. I wish I had just accepted the trip home and been there for his birth. It’s been seven months and I still have not gotten to meet him. I worry that he is going to grow up not knowing who I am.

17. Struggling with mental health does not make me a bad person, it just makes me a person.

16. Following that, I think it is time to step back from social media and stop focusing on other peoples’ idea of happiness.

15. Not wanting to have kids does not make me a bad person. It also doesn’t mean I don’t like kids. I love them. I just love that I can give them back at the end of the day.

14. I have to let go of Cal State Fullerton. It happened. It sucked. But it was three years ago. I made a couple of really good friends there, but my life is so much better here in this space.

13. My parents moving out of the house I grew up in doesn’t mean I don’t have a place in their life. My mom is talking about cleaning out my room and selling my furniture, the furniture I bought when I went to uni, and I had a hard time with it. For a while, I looked at that room as my only connection to them, and the only space I had left in their life. But part of my choice to make my life 6,000 miles away from them means that I am a visitor when I am there and not a roommate.

12. It is perfectly acceptable to have my mother mail me American peanut butter.

11. Not wearing shoes that I love because I’m afraid they will get dirty is ridiculous. That being said, I have a pair of Vans with tacos on them that have never been worn. Ditto for a white pair that has flamingos and black slip ons with flamingos.

10. My loans will eventually get paid off….and until then I will make do being skint.

9. Statistics are not scary. I am not in a rush to more research with them, but they are not the terrible beast I thought they were.

8. I would rather follow French bulldogs on IG than real people. I am way more emotionally invested in puppies the lives of puppies I have never met (and never will for that matter) than I am in most people I know (well, their social media profiles anyway).

7.  I like to set unrealistic goals(and then get really mad when I don’t achieve them).

6. My wanderlust list keeps growing.

5. I’m terrified I won’t find a job in the next few months.

4. I don’t think I can actually give up chocolate (I was doing really really well for a bit, but fell off the wagon recently)

3. Drag queens are the cure for what ails me.

2. The mother of all drag queens taught me:

Image result for rupaul if you can't love yourself

  1. I am a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.

 

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