Writing – Changing

The purpose of this piece is for me to get used to writing, so hopefully the more writing I do the better I get. I’m sure there are many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors as you read through this but this is about learning and finding what kind of writer I’m going to be, so all of your comments will be of great value. In September I start a 10 week creative writing workshop, hopefully, I will have figured out how to use the spelling & grammar checker by then. So please be kind, be brutal, but above all please be honest about what you think.

Title:- Changed

Last weekend I started reading the biography about an Idol of mine, comedian & Film star Robin Williams. Reading it brought up emotions of sadness because he’d died & happiness because he made me & the world laugh. The very first time I saw Robin Williams was on the tv show Mork & Mindy, it made me laugh so hard I would have tears rolling down my face.

In the book many people were saying he was a comic genius, a legend, a star, I think he was just bloody awesome. He was one of those actors whose films would always cheer me up, they would always make me smile and laugh especially when I was feeling down. In the book people he performed with said he was an amazing guy to work with, he was always trying to make people laugh on set, always willing to help fellow cast & crew out & always helping those in need & those less fortunate. One example of his compassion reported that he would always insist that any of the films he worked in must always hire a number of the local homeless population to work on the set.

After reading the introduction and all the comments from his friends, colleagues, and family,. It moved on to tell his story. It started with at the end of his story with talking about his death at the age 63 & by the end of that first page I could feel a lump in my throat & could feel tears welling up also. I remember feeling the same way when his death was announced back in 2014. It made me think about a film I had recently seen; it was a documentary called RobinWilliams – Inside My Mind. It had its funny moments but was filled with heartbreak & sadness, he was an amazing human being, full of energy and laughter, but it showed he was also just a man who had his own demons & flaws such as drinking, drugs, anxiety & depression.

I got a bit distracted again at this point & started thinking about my own demons, my own long-term battle with my crappy health, depression & anxiety. So I decided I wanted to get my own story down on paper to bare my soul so to speak then share it on here.

Here we go.

I’ve pretty much had poor health since birth, though my battle with depression & anxiety didn’t start until much later(obviously). In fact, it started around the same time as the bullying I was experiencing did. I was about 11 when the bullying started firstly because I was rubbish at sport & didn’t feel like I fit anywhere, then it got worse when I got my girlfriend who was of Sri Lankan parentage even though she was born here. the verbal abuse from both British Asian kids & White British kids was equally as bad & it even got physical a few times. Going through school was the worst for verbal.

I was 13 when my family moved from South London to West Sussex, not long after the move, my episodes of depression began to get more frequent, I hated the countryside back then, I hated moving away from my Grandparents, I didn’t like my stepfather and I missed London, I became a right little shit (so I’ve been told). Around the age of 16, I started drinking and smoking, not a lot but I started, then after I’d had a teenage meltdown, I was sent to live My Father & Stepmother for 2 years by the age of 18 my drinking & smoking had become very heavy in fact I had turned into a drunk but not an alcoholic. It was also at this I met a girl who would eventually become wife even though over the next 5 years I was an absolute shit towards her, yet she has never gave up on me (madness, even I’d given up on me), but this year will be our silver wedding anniversary,  25 years ago was also when I also cut down on the drinking.

Then 13 years ago I quit smoking & drinking altogether which ended up being a stroke of luck because 6 months later, I was made redundant from a job I loved, the company was closing down and moving back to the good old U.S of A, one good thing to come out of this time was the bullying was finally over.(I was bullied for many different reasons over the years, in fact, I think I must have had the words bully me written on my forehead).

About 18 months after the redundancy a tragedy occurred that affected me badly. There was a serious road traffic accident. On my way into work at  new job one morning I came upon a serious road traffic accident, there were 3 of us that stopped to help the people in the 2 cars that had collided, we had to try to get the man trapped in the first car out,  one of the guy’s broke a rear window so I could crawl halfway into the car to hold the trapped man’s head steady, talk to  him and stop him from hurting himself even more, at the same time the guy who had broken the window went around to the other side to try to gain access through the other door but with no luck, the third bloke stayed with the other driver trying to keep him calm.

The Police, Fire Rescue, and Paramedics were pretty quick, I explained to the paramedic what was going on with the injured driver whilst I had been with him. The police asked the 3 of us that had tried to help to wait by our cars to be interviewed individually. About 20 minutes after our statements a police officer came across to us and told that there was nothing that could have done to save him, that he had died from his injuries. He advised us that we should all go home due to the shock of what had happened. We drove off & the next thing I remember was sitting in my van outside the house. As I opened the front door I saw all the dried blood on my arms and hands, I looked up saw my wife then I just broke. I can’t remember how long she held me for, but I am so glad she hadn’t left for work. For the next 6 months, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even open the door, I’d also lost my job & it took me a long time to get over it.

For the next 18 months, I spent my time doing a lot of volunteering on conservation projects. I worked outside with a group of people with similar health problems, it was exactly what I needed to get better, getting back to nature and working with my hands again was the medicine I needed & it helped me find myself again, it helped me recover enough to look for another job, things were finally getting better.

8 years ago my physical health started to nosedive again, I began falling over at work, I was in constant pain, I was becoming forgetful & at times confused. Now, those of you that knew me back in my drinking days are probably thinking, hmmm sounds like you’re still a pisshead Gary, the problem was I had been off the sauce for 12 years(not fair). I saw the GP who sent me to a Rheumatologist who in turn diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. None of the pain killers they tried me on came even close to helping with the pain. The GP then sent me off to see a pain specialist. I was told it was unlikely I’d never work again, that my life as I knew it was over & I would have learned new ways to do things I was then released on medical grounds from the company I worked for.

After all this I started to feel that I was losing control of my life, that nothing was under my control anymore, my anxiety & depression were rising again, my physical health was getting worse, there seemed to be very little out there to help me cope with what was happening, I started attending CBT courses, 3 in fact one after the other to try and help me cope, but it just wasn’t for me. My mental and physical health were spiralling downwards & I was having some very dark thoughts. I was getting really scared.

Then on a visit to a medical drop in centre I overheard 2 old dears talking about a free NHS service called the Expert Patient Programme which helped people living with long term health conditions to live better. I had never heard of it before but thought I might as well give it a go, if it had worked for them maybe it could help me. So when I got home I contacted the service and got myself booked onto the next available course near to where I lived. I wasn’t very confident before I went as nothing else had worked for me, Then I thought what did I have to loose? I turned up for the first session of the 6 week course, it would be 2.5 hours 1 day a week for 6 weeks. As I walked through the door I remember thinking, what the hell am I doing here? But as the course got going I remember thinking it felt very different from anything else I had done & asked myself again, is this really going to work for me?

After all the introductions we learned that the tutors were also living with their own long-term health conditions, they had all been participants & completed the course themselves. They said they’d gotten so much out of the course they decided to become volunteer Tutors, I mean volunteers, wow that really struck me. Another thing was they talked to us, not at us, they were engaging with us, not judging us but asking us to give it a go, after all, they were living proof that the service worked. So after I left that day I decided I would go back for week 2.

The things the tutors were saying to us made sense, the coping techniques they demonstrated actually worked. The tutors came across as positive, compassionate, and understanding people who got us, they really understood what we were going through, it showed us we were not alone, and it showed me it was ok to smile and laugh without feeling guilty. The change in me was massive and quick, by week 3 my wife was telling me she couldn’t believe the difference the course was making, I was more confident, positive & happier, that I was talking and laughing more. So on week 4, I plucked up the courage and asked if I could become a volunteer tutor. Now public speaking was some really scary shit for me, I knew I would be well outside my comfort zone.  But 4 months later I finished my training and 6 weeks after that I started delivering my first course. I loved it. Since then my health has had many ups and downs.

But the main thing was I had my various families to support me, there was my wife and 3 daughters, my brother and his family, my work family & my fellow tutor’s & participant family. Then 2 years ago a dream came true for me, not only was I a volunteer tutor but I was also working as the Expert Patient Programme Administrator, it was a job I loved & life was good. Then 11 months ago my health decided to nosedive again & I was placed on long term sick leave. I’m still off sick now but in 3 weeks time, I will be going through the process of being released on medical grounds. This time though things will be different as I am far more prepared this time. I have been looked after supported & helped by my friends at work & my family at home, which includes my lovely Dog Dora.

I’ve started making a long term plan, which is to become a writer, what type of writer I will be I don’t know yet, but I’m enjoying the journey now that it has started, with all the reading writing and blogging I am doing these day’s I know one day it will happen.

There really is no way to thank all the people in my life who have helped and supported me over the last 8 years, but I love you all because you have all helped me arrive where I am today.

So now it’s on to the next chapter fo me although I will still be looking forward to coffee with the boss and volunteering in the office with my colleagues when I can. There’s no chance of work getting rid of me completely I’m afraid. The Service is known as EPP for short but is also known as the Living Well Course. If you like the sound of it & fancy giving it a go, make the call you have nothing to lose & everything to gain, it worked for me after all. I’ve written this in the hope that my story may help some of you.

Take care

Gary

Ok, so I am going to go a little bit Hollywood now &  thank some of the people who have helped me get to this point in my life.

So First to my Mum who never gave up on me even though I could be a right little shit(apparently), Thank you to my long-suffering wife Tracey, to my 3 yes 3 beautiful grown-up daughters Sian, Keri & Erin who’ve put up with my bad sense of humour on a daily basis. I’d like to thank my workmates Karen the Boss & Natalie (aka Danny Dyer) & Sue the co-ordinator’s who’ve had to put up with me being such an awesome administrator in my opinion. To all the amazing tutors & participants I have met along the way & last but not least some good friends, to Marion who was also my mum’s best friend We should meet up for a coffee soon, to Shelly & Ian who helped me get through the first couple of years and introduced me to the lovely Jenner & Ken who allowed me into there lives, I know I’m crap at keeping in touch & I need to rectify that.

Finally, to all those, I have not mentioned but are just as important.

Thank you all so much.

And finally again, a big thank you to Robin Williams for making me laugh, for making me cry, for being a hero to me & whose story has inspired me to write this piece.

Day 6, My First Attempt

The next post will be my first attempt at writing, if you have the time please read through it and let me know what you think about it, honesty please.

I want writing to become a big part of my life’s reading has. So I need to start sharing, I need to start getting pieces written and out there for all to see.

The first piece I have written how my life has changed over the last 7 years and how I have I have become the person I am today. A pretty positive one.

A little heads up on what I am living with health wise these days. I have allergies to eggs, fowl and peanuts. I live with anxiety, depression, Asthma, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoporosis (spinal damage), undiagnosed MS (Spinal cord liaison), Neuropathy, Tested positive for Sarcoidosis (in remisson) and to top it all off Fibromyalgia.

Day 1, The Journey Begins.

For the last few months I’ve pretty much been drifting along like one of those tumbleweeds you see in the movies. Thing is at some point in the next month I will be given notice due to illness at my place of employment and it s all very amicable.

so about a week ago I started reading a book that I got for my Birthday. The book is called “Get Your Sh*t Together” by Sarah Knight. Now I have plenty of experience in setting long term and short term goals, but I’d lapsed, no motivation, lots of things I wanted to do, but I had turned into the great procrastinator, I couldn’t be arsed.

Anyway the book has given me the kick up the arse I needed to start making plans (about bloody time) for my future, to live heathier, earn a living and make time for doing the things that I want and need to do. The book is humorous, uses a lot of profanities about the serious subject of planning for the future, writing lists and setting goals, the perfect book for me, I reccomend it to anyone.

GOALS

Long term – To earn a living from writing and to lose weight

Short term – Create structure in my life by using weekly timetables. The timetables will be further broken down into daily tasks of what needs to be done and what I must do  by prioritising  each task.

I feel really positive and confident that I am doing this the right way and for the right reasons, the main ones being it’s what I need to do and what I want to do.

Ok, day 1, The journey begins. 23/05/2019

I  booked myself onto a creative writing course starting in September 2019.

Went down the village collected my bag of medication and got my haircut, two birds with one stone.

Researched helpful websites, subscribed to a YouTube programme, joined a couple of mailing lists and purchased a couple of books.

ME TIME – sat in the garden with my dog Dora, sunshine on my back, the sound of tmany birds singing in the trees and jotting ideas down in my journal. Perfection and one of the most important tasks on my daily timetable.

After lunch I met with my Boss, we went for a coffee and a chat about my impending  release from my job on medical grounds and chatting over my plans for the future.

It’s been a job I’ve loved doing with an amazing team of people. I can truly say I will miss the job and miss working for the NHS. It has been an honour and a pleasure, and I will definitely be keeping in touch with my workmates.

After getting back home from meeting up with my boss I took a bit of time to reflect on everything  we had spoken about, I updated my jornal whilst sitting in the garden with my dog who laid there fast asleep cooking in the sun pretending to listen to me, this is not being lazy but me making sure I don’t overdo things,  today was a good day, which has helped me feel a little more positive for the future

I am going to make a blog each day with updates on my progress, as I  think this will be a good platform for me on my journey, writing about my plans, my health and any situations and observations I encounter. The aim will be to publish my blog at the end of each day.

Be kind to each other, please leave comments and criticism’s, always appreciated even though I can’t guarantee I will act on them

Gary x

Choices

Something that was said to me on Friday got stuck in my head and it niggled away in the back of my mind over the weekend.

Then I saw a film yesterday that struck a chord with me and with the comment that was made on Friday. The film was called “Choices”. Now I wouldn’t normally watch a love story, but the wife and eldest were watching it on the tv.

At this point I would just like to say that these types of film are not my guilty pleasure.

Anyway, the film had a very strong message, not just about the love between two people but also about choices. It doesn’t  matter how big or how small the choices we make are, because for us as people they can both be life altering.

This morning I started reading a new book, it is helping me think about why I have made the decision to make the changes I want and need in my now.  The book I am reading is called:

Get your sh*t together

How to stop worrying about what you should do

so you can finish what you need to do

and start doing what you want to do

By Sarah Knight

Though this book has a serious message, it is explained with a lot of humour and a lot of swearing, which I find refreshing and easy to grasp, because of that I know this will help me with the process planning the next steps in a way that makes sense to me.

It seems that these occurrences  over the last 4 days are probably the universe telling me to get of my ar*e and get on with it.

I know it is something I am passionate about and I know that is what I want to do, I have many questions to research to find the answers I need and I also to get some advice from people I completely trust.

Watch this space

Go well

Gary x

Frustration

One thing I know for sure is that strees will make my pain spike to the point it will make me feel physically sick.

That is the point I  have arrived at today, normally  I’m pretty good at handling  my stress levels through medication and CBT techniques.

Every now and then this fails me as I am only human.

Today I had to call my pension provider to discuss my pension, it is this process that has caused my stress levels to rise to a point where I wanted to explode. I did raise my voice with the final person I  spoke to but luckily did not swear.

So I  phoned  my pension provider today around 11am, firstly I went through the automated security questions then was put on hold, finally spoke to a human and asked the security questions again, she asked why I  was calling.

I was then told I had got through to the wrong department and she put me through to the correct department at least she said it was..

Back on a lengthy hold, finally spoke to another human, went through all the security questions for a 3rd time, explained why I was put through to them and was instantly told I had been put through to the wrong department again, she said she would let the correct department know I had already answered the security,

Then was put on hold for a long time, finally spoke to another human being, who made me go through all the security questions for a 4th time, I asked my question but things had become a little heated by this point but i managed not to swear.

So I was put on hold yet again while she made some enquiries, after at least 5 minutes she got back to me, I apologised for getting angry and told then she told me they were sorry for messing me about and for all the waiting, then she told me I now have to wait at another 7 to 10 days before things sorted.

What is it with financial organisations treating our money like it is theres.

As I  hung up the phone after spending 30 minutes on hold and 15 minutes talking to someone I had the urge to scream, shout, yell and cry all at the same time.

So writing this and drinking a coffee is the first coping mechanism for when I get stressed, the next step will be to put on some music probably the Foo Fighters or  Now that’s what I call driving Rock. Then tonight read som more of my book.

Take care.

Gary

Bucket List

Okay, so in my last blog I said I was going to write down a new bucket list. I had actually started thinking about what I wanted to do, how big or small I wanted the actions to be, Whether I wanted it to be big things like “I want to run the London  Marathon” or something small like “I want to make a model airplane”.

Any way here goes.

My Bucket List.

  •  1.  Attend at least 5 West Ham home games next season.
  •  2.  Get out and about with my Camera at least twice a month.
  •  3.  Go on a UK weekend break this year.
  •  4.  Work. Find something I can do from home, something creative
  •  5. Go out for coffee with a friend at least once a month.
  •  6.  Get power  installed into my shed.
  •  7.  Write my blog at least once a week.
  •  8.  Do a creative writing course.
  •  9.  Read a book a month.
  •  10. learn to make the best Chilli oil & Chilli sauce  possible.

 

So here is the list that I came up with. I am not saying I have to do all these, but try to do some of them.

Take care

Gary

F##k it

You know what I have learned techniques to help me stay positive, I’ve read books about positive thinking, I’ve even used apps, but occasionally, just occasionally you can have a day where your outlook is perfectly described by these 2 words ” F##k it”. 

Sorry about that but today is one of those days.

F##k it

F##k it

Fuck it

F##k it

F##k it.

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Fuck it.