Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Depression Diaries: Aaaand CRASH

12:45pm: No.  Just... No.

Today's going to be a bad one.  Is already a bad one.  I've completely crashed after yesterday.  I didn't sleep that well.  I snapped at Mum in the car on the way to work, then she bought me beautiful flowers while she was at the Co-Op this morning and I felt terrible.  I snap at her, she buys me a bouquet with gerberas in it.  Nice going, Ellie.

Not only that, but the customers thus far today have been a special breed of hellish too.  In fact, one group with two revolting children literally had me tearing my hair out.  I had my hands clutching my head, my hair, elbows rooted firmly on the desk, trying desperately not to go down there and kill the little bastards.  I may have actually hissed the words, 'For fuck's sake!' at one point, possibly within earshot of one of the party, but I don't care.  The brats were twanging the coil doorstop over and over again, running round with the chairs, hitting each other with books, screaming, crying and generally being awful, while the adults cooed over them like they were the cleverest beings ever and said things like, "Awww, bless his little cotton socks!"  NO, LADY.

The kitten on the left's called Philip.  I'll try to think of him every time I feel burning rage towards people who might spend money if I don't kill their children.

So, in summary: Today Is Not Good.  I am angry and sad and antsy and tired and I have a colossal case of DO NOT WANT and I want to eat myself into a coma except I DON'T want to do that and I've just about done some admin stuff but I genuinely wonder if the next badly behaved child (or adult) will be the one to tip me over into 'Nope. Not happening today.'  *think of Philip, think of Philip, think of Philip, think of Philip...*

3:00pm: Customer Relations Fail

I've reached zero capacity for customer service this afternoon.  No, I lie... I can JUST ABOUT manage to semi-smile through a fast transaction with no questions or small talk.  But thirty seconds is your lot.  Our resident bore came in and Mum had to go out to the post office and LEFT ME WITH HIM and I just... couldn't.  It was painfully obvious that I had nothing to say, no vaguely positive facial expressions, no way of filling in the yawning gaps in conversation like I normally have to, and it still took him ten minutes to finally get up and leave.  Book-free, as usual.

I'm munching my way slowly through a Graze punnet - the one with whole hazelnuts, raspberry-infused cranberries (they really do taste of raspberries!) and white chocolate buttons - and keep getting gratefully distracted by how beautiful hazelnuts are.  The little squat round shape and the wood-grain pattern, they're cute.  Maybe I was a squirrel in a previous life.

Ohhhhh dear.  "There's a step here!  It doesn't tell you there's a step anywhere!  That's dangerous!"  THERE ARE TWO FUCKING MIND THE STEP SIGNS ON THE DOOR.  "Oh, I've got my wrong glasses on."  Well, that's a good reason to be an asshole about it then. 

Excuse me while I go smash my extremities against a hard surface.  *think of Philip, think of Philip, think of Philip...*

3:50pm: My Jack Sparrow Moment

Okay, so I just came out of the office and there were two kids messing about with all the pricier gift stock on the table halfway down the shop.  I walked towards them, to go back to the desk, and I was walking quite slowly because my new boots are still rubbing a bit, and the heels were cracking against the hard floor, and I was taller than they were, and I'm wearing long black boots and black jeggings and a jumper that's shaped a BIT like an old-fashioned men's shirt, and I probably look a bit dishevelled at this point, and I swear... those kids looked up and this look of vague fear crossed their faces and they backed right off and stopped messing about with everything.  I felt like a frickin' pirate.  That was fun.

9:00pm: Depression Is Confirmed

Mum told me on the way home that she wasn't going to bother speaking to me if I was just going to snap or grunt a reply, or NOT reply, because it "wasn't worth it".  I tried to point out that non-responsiveness and irritability are par for the course and that it doesn't mean she's offended me or that I'm being deliberately hostile or mean.  In fact, mentally I might have responded quite well, but it just never translates properly onto the outside.  Alienation of well-meaning individuals due to poor social interaction, you say, Allie Brosh?  CHECK.

In other news, I'm DEFINITELY depressed.  Sometimes inside my tired head I worry that I'm just being stupid, that I'm just lazy or selfish or silly or petulant or WHATEVER.  But people, there is one sure-fire way to diagnose yourself as officially depressed, and that's the When Something Goes Wrong Test.

This something can't be a major event that actually warrants an extreme reaction.  This something might be... dropping a glass and breaking it.  Spilling your coffee.  Forgetting some little errand that doesn't matter.  For me, it was not getting my prescription after work.  I'm running really low on a routine IBS medication I take before meals to keep my stomach calmer.  The surgery has had my prescription for over a week.  But when I got there today, intending to pick it up and fill it over the road at the local chemist, there WAS no prescription, just a note saying I needed a GP appointment before I could get my medication again.  No one rang me to tell me this earlier, and there were still two 'issues' left on each item on the prescription according to my last slip.

Where a regular person might have asked some stern questions about certain elements of this disappointment, sighed, made an appointment and moved on, my mind went dead in a vague mixture of panic, anger and despair.  I asked a couple of vaguely aggressive questions, got embarrassed, huffed a bit, sighed "shit..." into my own arm, stuttered that buying medication to tide me over for a few days would cost a fortune, and generally narrowly avoided sitting down in the middle of the foyer and sobbing.  I sat stricken in the car, growled "I could have done without a 9am appointment on my one FUCKING day off," nearly cried again (but didn't - still no crying happening in Crazy Town), then suddenly got very tired and sloped wearily inside to put my flowers in a vase.  I got all sad again because I couldn't seem to get the gerberas to sit quite right, plonked them in any old how and gave up.  Then I had a slow, miserable, exhausted shower.

And that, folks, is depression.  Little issue, HUGE reaction, followed by a crushing need to just go to bed.  Final note:  I gave up on the healthy dinner I had planned and I've had a choc chip muffin instead.  The same as I had for breakfast, only without the caffeine in my coffee.  Fuck it.  

Penny feels my junky needs. And hey, at least I put mine on a plate first.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Depression Diaries: Bank Holiday Monday

1:00pm, aka Maybe The Lunchtime Lull

Yeah, hi.  So, it's Bank Holiday Monday here in Tourist Town, which is a fantastic time to be... 'off colour', shall we say?  From the moment we arrived this morning, all we could see in every direction were hoardes of determined bargain seekers heading for the car boot sale, hoardes of blue-rinses shuffling towards the market, children everywhere and bad drivers veering all over the place.  Good times.

Happily I spent the first hour of the working day in the office, getting a stack of books ready to overhaul the YA shelves, sifting through boxes and pricing up a couple of board games we were given to sell on if we could.  This meant that I only had to listen to the small Tasmanian devils in the children's section through the door, rather than first hand.  During this hour Mum read as much of my Nora Ephron book (I Feel Bad About My Neck) as I've managed to read in about a week, and when I came back out into the shop we were full and I wanted to hide under the desk.  Oh well.

Weirdly, I'm actually hungry right now - very unusual at the moment - so I'm having an early-lunchtime Graze box.  It's the first time in days I've really fancied one, but it's yummy.  The 'Bounty Hunter' - coconut slivers, dried cranberries and chocolate drops.  And my favourite customer came a-visiting and I just about stayed friendly and chatty.  Well done me.  He doesn't like Bank Holidays here either, wise man.

Next phase:  Operation Find Projects To Distract Me.  Things like editing my Twitter feed, combing my LT library for books to go, maybe editing a Pinterest board or two?  Filing but on the netbook, essentially.  Anything to avoid sitting here with my heart pounding, wishing everyone would sod off.  :)

On a sidenote:  Being depressed makes it MUCH EASIER to respond firmly to people attempting to get discounts on books.  I think it's the 'I don't care' factor.  I'm not bothered if they get shirty about it, because I don't care.  Makes me less likely to get all British and embarrassed.  Just a straight-up, slightly weary "No, sorry, not on a book this age with such a good dustjacket."  Simple, clean, to the point.

2:30pm - Afternoon Madness Begins

Half past two.  One hour until my unofficial 'depressed state' tolerance cut-off point.  I can just about scrape through until 5pm on a good day, but it winds back to 3:30pm when I'm in a bad way  There's a child throwing (heavy) books around in the children's section.  Oooh, and a game too, goody.  And picking everything up.  And one's run outside.  The mother's yelling like a banshee.  Will I even make it that far today?! 

There's an old lady glaring at me from the doorway, that's always fun.  Two hours left, two hours left, two hours left... *repeats like mantra while rocking slowly, gritting teeth and clenching fists firmly*  The child is now running and throwing books outside.  And opening and shutting the cupboard doors.  If you don't hear from me, I'm at the police station being charged with braticide.

4pm:  Almost There

Iiiiiinteresting.  So, as it turns out, the 'comfortably numb' stage of depression is actually WAY better for Bank Holidays than the 'EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME' stage.  Less rage, less angst, less upset.  Just me sitting blank-eyed behind my netbook quietly thinking, "You know what, do what you want.  Look at every Paperblanks journal then don't buy one.  Mess up the books.  I'll just wait until you've gone then drift round and tidy up really slowly.  Whatever."

I'm still eating that Graze box.  I've also eaten seven cherry tomatoes and drunk multiple cups of decaff coffee and chai tea.  That's it.  The appetite thing's clearly still a bit slow despite its early buzz today.  My sister's made four different kinds of cookie while we've been at work, though (two of them involving Nutella and ALL involving chocolate) so I'm sure I'll manage to sample one of those with a cup of something hot and another episode of 2 Broke Girls at SOME point this evening.  It's the little things...

6pm: Home and Dry

Made it.  Naturally the whole world poured into the shop at quarter past four, but in a VERY unusual stroke of amazing timing, they all left again dead on half past and I scurried out and closed the door.  One of the very last customers was a fellow bookseller.  He came to the desk with three HUGE books and said, "I'm in the book trade, I don't know if that gets me anything off..."  As soon as he said it I knew he'd bought books from us before and said, "Ohhh, I thought I recognised you!"  "Was it the sullen expression on my face?" he said with a grimace.  I actually laughed and said, "Aaaah, now I KNOW you're a fellow bookseller."  He got his 10% off and it was still a £30 sale.  He had a glass of water before he left and while he was sitting drinking it a woman piped up, "Excuse me, love, but are these books alphabetical by title or author?"  "Author," I said, rather shortly.  "So, if I'm looking for Lesley Pearse, would that be under L or P?" she called.  THE GUY LOOKED HEAVENWARD AND ROLLED HIS EYES.  And I smiled again.  Good man.

And now I'm home, my laundry's in, I'm in my PJs and dressing gown, and Mum and I have already shared one of my sister's Nutella-filled cookies.  GOOD SHIT.  I'm not entirely sure how to fill my evening now.  I'm flat out on the bed and I've got music on but I'm skipping half the songs that come up, in that way you do when you don't really want to listen to music at all.  Should I watch a film?  A load of back-to-back sitcoms online?  Try to read a bit?

Miscellaneous good news: my library books have, by some miracle, renewed hassle-free for another three weeks so I can keep plodding on without rushing or being annoyed that I'm halfway through two and don't want to take them back until I'm done.  Because it might take a while.  PRESSURE OFF.

~ Journal extract ~
(from a week or two ago)

"Yesterday was terrible.  It was such a beautiful day, and it felt quite productive really.  I got up a little late, had breakfast, and cheerfully did some of my cleaning.  Then I went and sat outside in the sun, nursing a headache, sipping coffee and reading and watching the cats pretending to be flowers so they could watch the blackbird.  So far, so good, right?

But for the whole day there was pain throbbing just under my skin.  It's barrelling upwards towards fever pitch.  There's so much wrong, and I think having to keep it bottled up is taking its toll.  Living in close quarters with my family, there's no space to FEEL without being checked over and asked questions and seeing worried glances following me wherever I go.  So I don't really feel.  I keep everything pushed down, so that instead of crying and watching sad movies and dancing and generally getting it out of my system, I'm letting it eat its way through my chest until my heart flutters and the pain spreads like ink in my blood until my hands are shaking and my breath catches in my throat.

A while back I watched Russell Brand's documentary on addiction, and something he said cut to my core.  He said that addiction, and addictive behaviour generally, happens because there's something sad and empty inside us and we're just trying to fill it.  For me, it's a sad and empty place where life should be.  Life, and people.  Is it any wonder I rattle from one obsession to another, one means of control after another, one means of escape after another?  Anything to try to forget the howling void left behind by having nowhere to go, no autonomy, no one to call, no one to love, no one to make me feel loved and special and worth knowing, quirks and demons and all..."

I really think it's important to be honest about this stuff sometimes.  Otherwise, how will anyone else ever know they're not alone, that other people feel it too?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Top Ten Books For When You Need Something Light And Fun

 TTT is hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week we're talking light reads... books that are easy to read, fun and good for a giggle.  I tend to turn to super-light books when I'm tired or the shop's crazy busy, when I'm ill or miserable, or occasionally as a bit of light relief alongside heavier reading fare.  These are some of my favourite go-to choices!  I missed off Bill Bryson's Notes from a Big Country, just because it appears on these lists a LOT... but that would totally have made my top five otherwise.  :)
The Undomestic Goddess
by Sophie Kinsella
Yeahhhh, this one again.  SHUT UP IT'S AWESOME.  If I'm still in the mood for an actual novel, but I want something with a serious feel-good factor, then this is usually at the top of the list.  The story of a woman on the run from her high-pressure work as a lawyer, it makes me want to slow down and be domestic and bake things, and generally relax and enjoy life and the countryside and good food and good company.  Perfect.

The Pirates! series
by Gideon Defoe
Yay pirates!  Chris Addison first turned me onto these books when he was a guest on My Life in Books, and then Hanna got hooked on them, and then I read The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists from the library, and THEN she sent me the first book in the series for my last birthday, and THAT'S where we're at right now.  They're funny and ridiculous and occasionally a tad Carry On, and I think Gideon Defoe might be a bit of a genius.
The World According to Clarkson, vols. 1-4
by Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson's a pretty divisive bloke, especially on telly when his mouth runs away with him, but his collections of newspaper columns are really quite hilarious.  Occasionally a particularly un-PC moment might make me cringe, but mostly they're just deliciously earthy and make me laugh when I need it most.  There are four volumes of 'general' columns (ie. not all car and transport-related) so far!
The Mighty Book of Boosh
by Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding and Dave Brown
This is a new one for me, but it's what's putting a smile on my face RIGHT NOW so it's getting a mention anyway.  I'm a few years behind everyone else with The Mighty Boosh, it seems, but now I've discovered it it's my favourite form of escapism of a tired evening.  The book's crammed with art, funny stuff, photos, comic strips and everything else under the sun, and I love it!
Anything by/featuring Karl Pilkington
by Karl Pilkington and/or Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
I've read two of his books now: Happyslapped by a Jellyfish (a bunch of his travel anecdotes, diaries and little poems), and The World of Karl Pilkington (scripts from The Ricky Gervais Show).  Both have been funny, ridiculous, easy to read and a great dose of light relief on a bad day.  Next up will be An Idiot Abroad, which is waiting patiently on Mount TBR!
Deric Longden's cat books
by, ummm, Deric Longden
Like The Undomestic Goddess, these are for when I still want an actual narrative but also want to smile and laugh and be happy.  Mum gave me my first one (The Cat Who Came In from the Cold) as a kid and I still reread them on a regular basis, giggling at the antics of Deric's very anthropomorphic cats, and snorting at his wry take on life and his warm sense of humour.  Read 'em, cat people!

It Is Just You, Everything's Not Shit
by Steve Stack
Subtitled 'A Guide to All Things Nice', this is a kind of counter-volume to the two Is It Just Me or is Everything Shit? encyclopedias (which I've also read!).  Rather than a guide to everything annoying in life, it's a celebration of all the happy things that cheer us up but sometimes get taken for granted.  Things like David Attenborough, crumpets and bubble wrap.  I love it - and it's how I first heard about LibraryThing!  :)

Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table
by Nigel Slater
read and reviewed this one back in 2010, and it was so delicious that I knew I'd be keeping it as a comfort read.  With bitesize morsels on everything from seaside rock to strawberry picnics, old-school puddings to supermarket shopping, all written with warmth and humour, it's guaranteed to make me smile AND make my stomach rumble, all at the same time.
Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction
by Tom Raabe
 A book about books can usually be relied upon to make me feel relaxed and inspired.  This one has the added advantage that it's very relatable and really funny!  It's about due a reread actually, but from what I remember I recognised myself all the way through and had a good chuckle along the way!  The alternative history of the book was particularly brilliant, and the little quiz to find out if you're a biblioholic (I scored impressively on that one!)...
The Babylon series
by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous
In the middle of summer, when I need something cheerful and light and utterly scandalous to while away some hot days in the garden and manic days at work, I could do much worse than these books.  Structured as semi-fictional 'week in the life' exposés, written with the input of various top industry insiders, the series is fun, insightful and occasionally damning.  I've already reviewed Beach Babylon and Wedding Babylon here on the blog, and I have Fashion Babylon waiting on Mount TBR!
These are some of the books that I turn to when I need a light, easy and uplifting read - what would make your list?