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792ff0efca4a02382678eb238ac650adJust over a year ago I was standing on the far platform of a railway station, with crusted blood on my arm from self-inflicted wounds and trying to muster the courage to throw myself in front of a train. I nearly did it too. Standing so close to the edge of the platform that the side of one of the trains brushed and almost clipped the tip of my nose.

I couldn’t quite do it though. Not quite. Ended up going back home with my tail between my legs and trying to salvage the pieces of my broken brain.

I was in a very severe depressive slump anyway and then was kicked while I was down by life. One friend died and another, dear, friend turned out to be in a rather harsh home situation. I couldn’t help either of them in any meaningful way and was left feeling thoroughly impotent, even more useless than usual and selfish for feeling terrible. I was unable to ask for support and help when I felt other people needed it more.

Eventually, of course, people found out and were amazingly and wonderfully supportive, as they always are (depression lies to you about that) and while a dead friend can’t be brought back, at least the other friend now has an escape plan that I can – hopefully – help with.

My beautiful and lovely friend, and one-time unofficial, virtual housemate, Katie sent me a care package not long after my bout of suicidal ideation, and while some of the contents were an arcane mystery (a face pack? wtf?) amongst the goodies was The Book of You, a little diary/workbook of sorts with daily micro-actions for a whole year (there’s also an app). I just finished working through it (it was actually useful and not the hippy crap it might look like at first glance) and one of the things it tells you to do is to ‘report back’.

So, what’s there to report back?

I’ve made it 12 months without a relapse. No self harm in that time. No new suicide attempts. Only – relatively – mild bouts of depression and panic. I’m out of therapy but back on the drugs, on what seems to be a semi-permanent basis, constantly trying to anticipate and balance the dose. Summer is the worst time of year for my mental health, the heat I think – and the lack of sleep. I also tend to feel out of place at this time of year, it’s not really my ‘cup of tea’ and there are extra, physical chores that need doing.

I’ve been working hard to try and get back to the self-sufficiency I was at before the last few years’ heavy bouts of depression, but it’s tough. I’ve even been looking for supplementary part-time work but with the depression as it is I just don’t think I’m reliable enough for anyone to hire. This presents its own problems in terms of both self-esteem and finances, wanting to regain that full independence and being – seemingly – unable to. There’s not a lot of options to remedy that either. Seeking assistance or benefits is massively impactful to self esteem if you don’t feel you really need them and austerity has cut funding for such things to the bone anyway. An ‘invisible illness’ would be a tough sell to any assessor or board, especially the kinds that judge terminal cancer cases ‘fit for work’.

There’s no real prospect of ever ‘getting better’ at this point. Just varying degrees of coping. That puts a lot of stress on friendships and relationships, as does the aforementioned lack of independence. There’s things I’m good at, even very good at, but imposter syndrome is a bitch and even having talent isn’t enough in a very tough gig economy with a trashed reputation, caused by sticking up for what you know is right – no matter what. No matter the lies and aspersions. Even when some of the people you were sticking up for end up turning on you.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in spite of being sick. In spite of there being no prospect of ever getting better. These are things I should be proud of, but anhedonia – one of the symptoms of depression, look it up – makes it all but impossible to truly acknowledge and take it to heart even when you do something amazing and against the odds.

I’m still here, but the Reverse SAD is pretty bad, panic attacks are pretty frequent. The abuse and suspicion I’m used to by this point, and when you have severe depression nobody can hate you as much as you hate yourself anyway, so it barely registers.

All of that sounds really bad, but here’s the thing. It isn’t.

It’s just an acknowledgement of status. I’m coping. I’m plodding on. I’m working away on things – bit by bit. I’ve re-organised my work schedule and am much more productive. I have a large body of work on Youtube now. I’m at least looking for ways out of my problem situations and there’s slow but steady progress on every front.

That’s all much better than it sounds.

Thank you everyone who looks after me when I need it, stays friends through tough differences of opinion, doesn’t treat me like some fragile thing all the time and forgives me my failings while valuing my strengths.

Here’s where I was last year, for comparison…

Inside #Gamergate

InsideGG.jpgGamergate was many things to many people, depending on their perspective. For some it was a harassment campaign, even terrorism, for others a key fight for ethics, against censorship.

Sadly the prior view had all the mainstream attention and is likely to be the only point of view that will go into the long term record.

It’s important, for posterity, to present and record the other side.

I was part of Gamergate. I want to tell it’s own story. I want to correct the record.

Linkypooh

I’ve also done an interview about the project – and GG – which can be seen HERE.

tongue sticking out

I got another lovely review for Old, Fat Punks – which is nice, but it came with some problems. As an independent writer with no self confidence, reviews are brilliant both for one’s self esteem (even, often, when they’re negative) and for garnering additional sales. When a couple – both writers and lovely people – both reviewed my book on the US Amazon site, it triggered some sort of automated script that deleted both reviews.

I tried appealing, they tried appealing, but all any of us seemed to get were more automated emails that didn’t seem to stem from a human being. We got nowhere.

You can read more about these shenanigans HERE.

For my part, I understand the need to avoid fake or malicious reviews, but these seems a bit odd. Couples often use the same products, read the same books and are enthusiastic about the same things. Even outside of couples, groups of friends often share housing for years at a time and, similarly, share similar interests. Not only is this creepily intrusive with your data, but it’s counterproductive for Amazon, sellers and consumers.

The really important part is, of course, the actual review…

I loved the book. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to Desborough’s clever wit. The setup is ingenious and hilarious: a group of middle-aged punk rocker friends meet in a pub that’s relevance is waning as surely as their own. After they go several rounds comparing sources of unhappiness and lamenting how futile it is to change the world for the better, they manage to hatch a plan that is as brilliant as it is doomed to fail. Or succeed? Does it even matter? The book is a must-read for anyone who craves another perspective on contemporary politics.

For me, this was a 5-star book, in that it was a thoroughly entertaining read, stayed true to its promise, and had zero flaws. It sucked me in and kept me riveted to the end, and I came to care about the characters and their issues, which are real and wholly felt. It resonated with me, and I think it would resonate with other readers.

But you should check out Lisa’s work as well. Clearly she’s a fine writer with excellent taste!

grimbletideI don’t care about Christmas, but I do care about you.

My friends, my family, my readers, the players of my games.

The people who’ve stuck around, who’ve disagreed with open minds, discussed, defended and worked with one another to muck on through and get shit done. The skeptics, the shitlords, the ‘true liberals’, the artists, the people with the courage of their convictions and a real understanding of friendship.

Thanks dudes.

This last year hasn’t just taken a toll on celebrities that meant something to us, it has taken a massive toll on a lot of people in a lot of ways. Everywhere I look I see people losing parents, friends, pets, marriages, lovers, jobs, money, homes even children – and even their own lives and health.

It has been shit, no question. Politically, economically, socially, professionally, personally, for a whole swathe of people.

The good news is… we survived it (at least I assume nobody is reading this from beyond the grave). It hasn’t all been terrible either. We’re at the crest of a backlash against the authoritarian/regressive/SJW left, the censorious arseholes who have been causing trouble for everyone for years.

The trick will be preventing that backlash turning into an equally oppressive authoritarian right. Perhaps though – finally – we can re-find some balance at the end of this process – in another four years. Perhaps this is also an opportunity (though not one especially being taken up with gusto yet) for the left to modernise and correct its mistakes, rather than doubling down.

We can hope.

Dominant over-cultures create powerful and interesting subcultures. As the dominant force shifts from the authoritarian ‘left’ to the authoritarian right there’s an opportunity for a lot of creative energy to find outlets and it’ll necessarily have to also be anti-PC, there’s bigger fish to fry. I hope and expect we’ll also see the skeptic community turning its ire, fire and focus upon the excesses on the authoritarian right as it did with the left.

I guess, what I’m saying is that there’s hope – and interesting times ahead. We survived the 80s and its constant threat of nuclear Armageddon with a senile, talentless hack actor in charge of the White House. We can survive a corrupt and incompetent ‘reality star’ in the same way. Brexit is shit, but there’s years of negotiations and decisions to go. We can soften it and heck, with the banks abandoning the UK maybe there’s finally impetus to diversify what we do beyond banking services so we can avoid becoming the Venezuela of Europe.

Similarly in Murka, Trump’s incompetence and his blithe obviousness in his corruption (rather than having the good sense to be sneaky about it) may well provide the impetus – finally – to make changes to the American political system to lessen and prevent such things in the future. It may also lead, eventually, to some much needed reform to the electoral college. One can hope the UK also, finally, gathers the gumption in the next swing of the pendulum to reform the hopelessly unrepresentative first past the post system.

Lots of people are despairing, but in some ways things are a bit better. In other ways I see hope. Sometimes you have to burn something down to clear the path for something new.

Anyway, hold onto that hope, try to see the positive changes that have happened along with the negative. Fights never end, they change, but you can acknowledge progress – and the instances in which we were right.

Let’s see what we can do in the new year.

Love,

G

x

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Old, Fat Punks got another lovely review, which I missed because I don’t pay enough attention to my reviews!

People really, really seem to like it, which is encouraging. I probably should write more books and put more effort into finding an agent.

“Well, I took a bung on a book just by its cover. And it was well worth the read. Full of life, with believable characters and a vivid colourful background. As a member of generation x and an ageing hippy, this is brilliant, political and strikes anchors with the masses .”

“To be honest I reckon I know the main characters in the book, so close to some of my own friends.”

“Brilliant. Just brilliant. cannot wait for his next work.”

✮✮✮✮✮

 

Nerd Rappin’

So last night I’m making a Youtube video and talking on Facebook while it renders or I’m downloading effects. Between the video and a conversation I was having I remember an episode of Aeon Flux I particularly loved which was of some relevance. Then I think ‘I loved the music on Aeon Flux, I wonder if you can get in anywhere’. A little Google-Fu later (avoiding the movie, *shudder*) and what should I find but the sales website of the composer himself, Drew Neumann.

I think ‘what the hell, I’ll help a brother out’ and buy the remastered triple-album version of the music for just over $10, figuring I can listen to it in the car and I can use snippets in my videos – because it’s cool.

All good, download it, no problem.

Then I get an email from Drew himself just to let me know if I had any problems with the download I could ask.

So I reply, nerding out – as one does – about Aeon and how much I love the music (almost equally to the animation) and then Drew mails me back…

‘Wait, are you THAT James Desborough, the RPG guy?’

Turns out Drew is a massive D&D nerd and ‘knows my work’.

That, ladles and gentlespoons, is frigging, cool.

You can buy and download the Aeon Flux music HERE (and it’s instrumental, so good for having on while you’re working or gaming). I highly recommend that you do.