*Click "display images" at the top to see a picture of Gaga riding a beautiful horse by the coast
Today I'm giving zero fucks about memories
Fall Out Boy, the musical ensemble that defined an emo generation, reminds us to be grateful for our memories, even the shitty ones: "Thanks for the memories, even though they weren't so great". Great philosophers of our time though they were, at times this can be a challenge (note: the title of the song is actually Thnks fr the Mmrs, so maybe I should have written that lyric in equally as ridiculous a way).
What is a memory? Well, technically, it's just something remembered from the past. At the point where something becomes a memory, it is of course no longer real; it just exists as some words in our mind, maybe some images too, of something that once was. I know this, as I'm sure you do too. Our memories are not reality so much as the remnants of a reality once lived.
Of course, memories are powerful and real, still. Though the occurrence that precipitated a memory will have been and gone, the feelings that the memories of those events brings endure - they far outlive anything else. Those feelings are about as real as any other reality that we're living or are due to live. Perhaps that's why Fall Out Boy put so much stock in those good old "Mmrs". Perhaps that's why they removed all the vowels. We'll never know.
Some memories are more powerful than others, of course. When it comes to matters of the heart, it's a veritable playground of the mind. Those memories come along, a-skipping and a-hopping, and dump a big old bucket load of feelings in your brain. There are few things that go up in flames as spectacularly as a relationship, and even fewer things where the only course of action is to "cut them off completely; it's just not helpful having them in your life, babe". Yet still, the way I feel for my exes means I'll still message ex #2 (when I always said I wouldn't), I'll dream about ex #1 and wish that she'd take me back (welcome to last night's mid-sleep entertainment) and I still call ex #2 and #3 the same nicknames I did as when we were together, when maybe I shouldn't. It's why I love people I once loved when arguably I should no longer.
But in my experience nothing compares to the memories left behind by depression. I recently wrote about what they can do to how you live your life if you let them take over. And of course, carrying on with reality should be our priority when things continue to march on and life's demands do not relent and ultimately our memories are reminders of things that have passed. Except my memories of depression still find a way to take the air from my lungs. As if depression doesn't steal enough in the first place. And, I must admit, at the moment I'm feeling particularly breathless.
Silly though this sounds, until I had recovered from depression, I never realised quite how cyclical life is. So many things are based on the calendar year, and when one is done, the next one rolls on around like a repeat of the year before. People will wish each other a happy new year and will question if it's too late to say it in early February. The weather will change; it'll either be too cold for too long or too hot too early and people will lament both eventually. The Easter Eggs will arrive in shops and people will cry with outrage that "the mince pies have barely left the shelves!". The Oscars will be on TV and women will be criticised for what they wear on the red carpet, but applauded for what they say on screen. Dancing on Ice, followed by Big Brother, followed by Strictly and The X Factor will all be back too. And we'll spend another year hating the prime minister that we voted into power. Though that's less cyclical and more of a guaranteed constant.
These aren't important moments per se (though X Factor is a much-loved cultural phenomenon of mine). Except my memories of depression, of a time when I was so weighed down by god-knows-what that I could barely shuffle from one day into the next, makes them so. I fucking love the X Factor and it's a miracle that I do. Because depression turned a TV show, and a light-hearted shitty one at that, into a memory with the kind of feelings that mean you one day realise you're alone, watching a reality talent contest, run by a man whose trousers touch his nipples, on catch-up with tears rolling down your face because #nostalgia. And arguably one of the most surprising syptoms to come out of my mental ill-health is a fondness for Simon Cowell. The X Factor is memories of me spending yet another evening (and day) on the sofa, too hopeless to even bother wishing I could do anything but just sit, and stare, and waste my life. Once I'd recovered, that's when I realised the true grip of depression - it maintains its hold even when its nowhere to be seen. Because it's there, still living, in the places I used to go and the things I used to do when I was unwell. What a sneaky fucker.
I'm finding out now that this time of year feels particularly challenging. I'm celebrating an odd anniversary, you see; it's the year anniversary of when I was really unwell. So much so that I didn't leave the house or work or do much of anything, really. I lost the love - for life and for myself. It's now, on the advent of my life once being characterised by emptiness, that our repetitive, cyclical life really knocks me for six.
Lucky thing that I am, I recently returned from a skiing holiday - just as I did a year ago. That wind being knocked out of my lungs feeling I mentioned? Well, when we arrived back at the car at the airport and Dad slipped into his normal "I'm back in the UK, time to get stressed" mode, and my sister was due to go home and leave me with Mum and Dad (n.b. I live with them, she doesn't), and when so many of last year's familiarities surfaced... I felt the colour being sapped from life. Those memories weren't just memories; I was so unwell when I managed to drag myself skiing with my family last year and somehow a repeat run a year later, this time with perfectly great mental health, took me back to that reality again. I felt fearful, a feeling that, in its own way, can be paralysing - just like depression is too.
While depression may drain the colour from life, the memories of it are in full fucking colour, saturation wincingly high. What I mean is: memories of depression are raw and they are real and sometimes they lean frighteningly close towards a pain that you honestly thought had gone. And as I sat in the car on the way back from the airport, I knew it was just that, a memory. But it doesn't mean it wasn't a head fuck.
I'm not even sure I can give precisely zero fucks about memories though - these or any kind. I will hold my hands high and tell the world that I LOVE NOSTALGIA. But it's because I love it so that I don't want to be beholden to memories that are the antithesis of the peachy glow that a rendezvous with some hardcore nostalgia normally brings. It always amazes me; time may pass but the pain can feel just as sharp and that's the risk we run with indulging in a foray into our past.
What I'm learning in life though, and never more so since my mental health challenges, is that we choose our own narrative (a point that I also touched on in the last ZFs). So many things we think of as objective in fact have elements of subjectivity to them if we take the time to question our perspective. Suffering from any kind of mental illness is shit, truly. But, looked at from another angle, when powerless to resist looking back on difficult times at this point in the year, I can thank the heavens above and all the Gods that I definitely don't believe in that I'm not back there anymore, feeling what I did.
Maybe that's the difference, right there. The feelings that our memories conjure up can feel so real, can be so hard to accept and get comfortable with. But they are, after all, just memories; I am no longer living that reality. And while the pain may feel real, and while it may still hurt at times, they're actually nothing but a reminder of how far you've really come.
Happy one year anniversary to me.
This ZFs is going to be slightly shorter than usual. That's because while I value it as a creative outlet (and sometimes refer to it as my child), I've got a four hour interview assessment for a new job tomorrow. And work comes first, kids. And if you're thinking - "surely she hasn't lost another job?" (for ZFs newbies: I was fired twice in two weeks in October). Well yes, yes she has. It'll probably be material for another one of these though, so I'll save you the musings. Normal ZFs proceedings will resume in two weeks.
A month ago, I didn't have a mental health initiative. Now I do. And, as always happens with these things - I can't remember life before it came along. Honestly, though, getting some shit done in the mental health space feels like such a good fit for me and I strangely feel like I've been here all along. Except I haven't; before I was just scribbling frantically in my notebook, posting slightly manically on insta stories and WhatsApping my therapist far too much about how things need to change when it comes to mental health.
So thank God for my new thing, MNTL HLTH, existing really (and yes, I am aware of the irony of this brand name in the context of my Fall Out Boy chat, don't you worry). All is in place, we even have a venue (I don't recommend starting selling tickets for an event you don't have a venue for, nor any budget to secure one with, if you appreciate being on an emotionally even keel. The past couple of weeks have been... nervy). But now all that's left is to sell some tickets.
CHECK OUT THE LAUNCH OF MNTL HLTH. And remember, enter IGIVEALLTHEFUCKS at checkout to get your ZFs discount.
To summarise, how we deal with mental health is broken and it's too important not to fix. So I'm trying. For more details than that >> click. And we're @mntlhlthhq on twitter and on insta too (would love some new follows).
*** REQUEST FOR HELP: Do you know someone who might like to sponsor our snacks/nibbles for the night? Food is kinda expensive and I'm just about covering what I'm paying in speaker expenses and drinks and printing and etc. Hit. Me. Up. if you can help ***
Given my track-record, you might be expecting me to say something like Meet Me Halfway by the Black Eyed Peas (which I definitely have not been playing this week and I absolutely would never make the assertion that it's their finest track of all time). But no, this week it's some American indie rock in the form of Spoon. Oh I've dabbled with loving them for a while but never really committed but this week I couldn't get their song, The Underdog, out of my ears. Serving up lines like "I want to forget how convention fits; but can I get out from under it?". Oof, yep, that's right. This song was basically the soundtrack to me leaving my job and leaving Croydon for good, feeling far from an Underdog. That day, I felt like the most emancipated woman that Croydon had ever seen.
My (Mutual) Breakup with Online Dating for confirming what I already knew - it's not just me that can't fucking stand online dating anymore. Why, when I was a young in the closet gay, I used to do it all the time - even when it was considered weird and when we thought that people who lived online lives were weirdos (putting it nicely) - and it was a better experience then than it is now. Turns out, the real weirdos are on Tinder in 2019, not on Gaydar Girls in 2008.
Speaking honestly - I've been spending all my spare time obsessively reading the work of a psychologist whose theories on psychiatric diagnoses have blown my mind. I read the book, annotated it, went back and read all my annotations and underlinings, then copied my favourite highlights into my favourite notebook. That level of obsession. So between all the reading and re-reading of that, there's not been much time for much else.
I'll write properly about the book next time. For now, I'm just completely undermining the integrity of this section by taking up bullet points with things that aren't article recommendations. You're welcome.
🔊 SOUND ON 🔊 Click the pic if you want to be reminded of what we used to have to put up with before broadband (p.s. trigger warning for any dial-up related trauma - it honestly was the worst, wasn't it? But hey, me and nostalgia and all that...).
Zero F*cks Warriors [NEW SECTION ALERT]
Know who gives zero fucks? Gaga. Know how I know? Because this.
That's What She He Said
"This is great!!!!" from Jim Antonopolous (founder of newsletter MarchFirst for purpose-driven business leaders) who has made me realise that while I don't use multiple exclamation marks myself, I fucking love them when used in the right context. Thanks, Jim.
Like what you've just read? Pass this on to a woman or man who gives so few fucks that they couldn't even give a fuck that this was a shorter than normal ZFs anyway