Let’s talk about Mental Health

I am writing this on World Mental Health Day 2014, “Living with Schizophrenia”. It’s almost 3am and I’ve seen less than 5 people post or share something about this cause on Facebook, which hasn’t really surprised me. Isn’t it weird how there’s still so much stigma attached to mental illness in this open-minded day and age? In the UK, the same-sex marriage legislation was passed over a year ago and we are an ever-growing multicultural part of the world inhabited by various ethnicities. So why are people walking on eggshells when it comes to talking about well-being?

I think the thing that scares us about discussing mental health is our lack of knowledge and understanding. As we’ve proven with our intellectual enlightenment that surpasses many obstinate parts of the world, it’s not that we don’t accept mental illness – we just haven’t got the hang of it yet. With enough discussion this issue should become obsolete, and that is what I hope to contribute towards with this blog post.

A mental health issue can be anything that is affecting how we think, feel and behave. For thousands of years things like melancholia and hysteria were treated with potions and lotions just like a physical health problem. It was not until the 18th Century that a differentiation was made between a ‘disease of the mind’ and a ‘disease of the body’, and that these things needed to be looked at and treated in different ways.

We’ve all seen the commonly used statistic that 1 in 4 people will suffer with some form of mental health issue in their lifetime.
That’s one of these:

The Obamas
The Obamas, a perfect representation of the nuclear family.

and one of these:

The Beatles, one of the most well-known and influential 4 piece bands of all time.
The Beatles, one of the most well-known and influential 4 piece bands of all time.

and one of these:

Me and my friends.
Me and my friends.

When you put it that way, 25% is a really scary figure. And when you see the long list of disorders that fall in to the ‘Mental Illness’ category, you can kind of begin personalise the issue.  We’ve all heard of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, paranoia, phobias and low self-esteem and have either suffered with one or more ourselves or have someone close to us who has.

Then there are all those big, intimidating wordsy-words like Body Dysmorphic disorder and Hypomania and Schizophrenia and we start to go “nope, not my area”. If you take a minute to stop and look up these mouthfuls you’ll find they actually represent things that we experience day-to-day just like depression and low self-esteem. All they mean are worrying about your appearance, fluctuating in mood from energetic to irritable and being delusional – except to a level that make living out a normal day extremely difficult or dangerous. These disorders are a lot more complex than these simple definitions I’ve given them of course, but breaking them down and making them relatable should make it a bit easier to get your head around.

So now we have a better idea of what constitutes Mental Health, what’s the big deal? As it’s something very close to my heart, I will use depression as an example.

Unfortunately, a lot of people hear a word like “depression” and give it as much thought as a house with a door. “It doesn’t mean anything”. “Everyone gets depressed”. “You’re just being a drama queen!” The thing is, the vast majority of us DO feel depressed. It’s horrible to admit, but with the media and social norms of the Western world it’s kind of difficult not to grow up without feeling inadequate or useless or meaningless at least once. Depression being a common feeling or disorder does not make it any less difficult or important – especially for the people that can’t cope with it.

People throwing around the word “depressed” for when ASOS doesn’t have that dress in a size 8 is understandably part of the reason why the term isn’t taken seriously. Depression is always a big deal, don’t get me wrong. But the thing that separates I-don’t-have-a-dress-to-wear-to-that-party-now depression from medically diagnosed and treated depression is the impact it has on the person living their life. Or in terms of depression, NOT living their life in a way that is deemed healthy and ‘normal’.

I previously mentioned mental and physical problems being looked at in different ways. This ground-breaking revelation that began the extensive knowledge and understanding Psychologists and Physicians have today of mental illness (and why to treat it with SSRIs and therapy rather than aspirin for example) has now also become one of the reasons we don’t want to talk about mental health.

The distinction between mental and physical health has the positives that we’ve discussed… and a huge negative too. In my opinion, mental health is just as important as physical health problems such as Cancer and AIDS. This may seem controversial and difficult to understand, but mental and physical health problems have levels of severity and in extreme cases can both result in death. Surely this makes them equally vital?

I don’t want to go in to too much detail about my personal feelings on the matter, but I hope that statement will give you something to think about. Lack of knowledge, understanding and regard for mental health issues creates a stigma on the subject that makes it even more difficult for people suffering them to come forward. We would never expect someone to be ashamed of admitting they are undergoing chemotherapy. People should not be ashamed of admitting to attending counselling sessions or whatever specific treatment they need to get better.

Because that’s the thing: all we should be concerned with is people getting better. Whether the problem is affecting the body or the mind it is equally unplanned and unwanted and can be equally difficult to overcome. All health issues need treatment in order to create positive change, and if we openly make it clear that we understand that, we could make the world a lot less terrifying for the people that are in any sort of pain.

Click here to read more about bridging the gap between the importance of physical and mental health.

Storing nuts for the winter: sensible or senseless?

I could tell as soon as I walked through the door something was missing; that glimmer of recognition wasn’t there. She doesn’t understand who I am like she used to.

The world sees the British as depressed and pessimistic. We moan and complain and who can blame us with this weather? – but I’ve thought about it a lot today and in my opinion we’re quite optimistic in one way: future. Everyone seems to be planning for the future – I want this job and this car and this lifestyle and this many children and then that better car and a country house in Devon that I visit for long weekends away with my adoring family and then that even better car and my children will get all A’s in their exams and play violin and will never need a shop-bought cake for their birthday because in this fantasy world I can bake.

I see this as similar to a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. He scampers around for months on end with no immediate reward and sensibly stashing his findings for later. By the time the first snow falls he’s happy as Larry in Lapland with his little nut store going on. I suppose it’s like the novelty of having a mini-fridge in your room in how convenient the nut store is in the winter. Like, it’s right there. People with a mini-fridge in their room will know what I’m saying. So in the end all his efforts were worth it for another year. I’m using the squirrel as a metaphor for us, the people. The nuts can be anything from money to success to experiences and the store for the winter is our future. We’re all scampering around too in order to get where we ideally want to be later. Most people do a degree to qualify for a certain job. We work in trashy bars that close at 4am and pay cash-in-hand in order to gain experience for a better job afterwards. We don’t eat the glorious cheeseburger in order to maintain a ‘beach-bod’ for our holiday abroad. We don’t stay up past midnight because we have to get up early tomorrow. Everything we do has a positive or negative consequence and the choices we make are heavily influenced by those.

In the grand scheme of things isn’t this way of thinking extremely optimistic? I mean, we’re assuming we’re even going to be here tomorrow. Life is a precious thing that can be taken away in the blink of an eye. How often do we consider not getting to that point we all imagine – that place we call “settled down”? I have a friend who I think I’ve mentioned in a blog post before that hates his degree. He is constantly miserable and under pressure and wakes up each morning dreading lectures or assignments or exams on things he’s simply not interested in. Since the first year I’ve said “quit, do what makes you happy”. People tell me it’s not as simple as that but having left university twice myself much to the disdain of my family I can assure you it is. My friend’s response to quitting was that he needed to get a decent final mark in order to obtain a decent job in which he can make decent money to provide for the future. To “make a life” for himself.

I find it really interesting how we can allow ourselves to suffer for something we only have a chance of obtaining. People wake up dreading what’s to come that day for such a long time, whether it be their university course or job position not motivating or inspiring them, in hope to be rewarded for it later. I very much believe in living in the moment but find it difficult to do consistently just like everyone else. As I said before everything has a consequence and sometimes it’s more complicated than just overlooking that.

In the same way, the important people in our life are always included in our future plans. Obviously we understand that people don’t live forever, but until a letter from the doctors comes through the door or something, death isn’t really even an option.  And that’s not a BAD thing; we can’t live our lives in fear of the worst case scenario. We couldn’t get on with the day if “he might die” or “she might die” is running through our heads, (although if it did I bet we’d all be a lot nicer to each other). That squirrel wouldn’t collect his nuts for the winter if he was afraid to go out and get eaten by a fox. I didn’t visit her for a long time because the thought she could get poorly and leave us hadn’t crossed my mind. It’s not that I didn’t want to or couldn’t be bothered. There was no sense of urgency.

She was diagnosed with cancer today. And we think she has Parkinson’s.

To anyone that is reading this that has put off seeing a loved one, please try and find the time to catch up – even if it’s just a phone call. Tomorrow they might not be the same person anymore. Life IS precious and in the grand scheme of things so fleeting. If there are things you want to say or making up to do with family or friends do it today, do it now. Put aside any principle or pride and remember how easily and unfairly they can be taken from you. Is it really worth holding the grudge in the end?

I hugely regret not visiting her in the time her mind deteriorated. I will never come through the door and see her face filled with memories shared and love and understanding like before. I didn’t know, I hadn’t planned for this. Do you see what I’ve been saying? Homosapians have developed far beyond a bloody squirrel. Stop doing or not doing things now in assumption for the future. Don’t suffer now in order to be happy later. “Later” is just as vague as asking the length of a piece of string. We have beautiful minds and the capability to think and feel and remember and we should use them right now in a way that satisfies us before the same opportunities aren’t there anymore. This sad story of my Grandmother is just one example of dangerously leaving things to be better in the future. The world doesn’t always work like that. We’ve all got something we’ve been putting off doing. Now is as good a time as any and it takes something like I’ve experienced today to realise that. Don’t wait to understand it yourself, just trust me: do it now or regret it later.

A story of a Someone called Something

Many years ago when I was new to the concept of social media and internet trolls I stumbled across a Facebook profile using the screen name ‘Marthur Mowgli’ who would find memorial pages set up by family and friends of someone who had recently deceased and write the most despicable things in the comments. The reason I remember this person is because I started a very odd online friendship with him via private messaging; he did eventually tell me his real name but despite him probably being an insane serial killer I feel bad revealing his true identity. I can tell you he lived in North Carolina and when I was 15 he was 20. Thinking about it though MM could be a mask of another fake persona that he had given to me to lull me into a false sense of security and trust. How would I have ever known?

MM messaged me after I had replied to a series of his comments on these RIP Facebook pages. It wasn’t too difficult to follow his online movement: every ‘popular’ memorial page, whether the person had been on the news or simply had a lot of ‘likes’ and activity, he was there. I joined as many as I could and questioned him, belittled him, pitied him. It only made him worse and I eventually realised that my attention was fueling him. Thousands of people wrote back angry comments in an attempt to get rid of him but in every one of my own comments I asked “why?”. WHY was he doing this? As soon as he appeared in my inbox I started to regret ever speaking to this psychopath and convinced myself he knew where I lived and was going to silence me the only way he knew how.

“Why?” – his message read. So simple yet ambiguous, so unexciting yet alluring. Don’t reply Ciretta, I told myself. This was long before the ‘seen’ application had been added to Facebook messenger in which the person you were conversing with could see if and when you had read their message. He’d never have known I’d opened it if I had just left it alone. But I couldn’t. I can’t remember how the exact conversation went but I know I asked “why what?” and within a month we had started to message each other every day. He explained to me his negative view on Facebook memorial pages and I explained how much he was hurting people that were mourning. Unbelievably this guy seemed to take what I was saying on board and I didn’t find any more comments from ‘Marthur Mowgli’ once he’d told me to add his ‘real’ profile after a few weeks. Whether that profile was fake too I guess I’ll never know, but at the time I interpreted this as a sign of trust and we continued conversing from there.

MM and I spoke about life and love and people. We told each other about our hopes and dreams and tried to motivate each other with our aspirations (mine – writing, his – music). It baffles me thinking about how much I and thousands of others originally despised this internet troll what with my positive memories of him now.

I knew he was messed up and was very careful not to give out any personal information. I had blocked all of my private details and profile pictures from both his Facebook profiles just in case he was an axe-wildering maniac and our friendship relied only on the words we typed out each day. He never pressed to learn more about me and didn’t pressure me in to trusting him or relying on him – some comfort about this guy developed naturally because he knew NOTHING about me and only saw what I allowed him to see. It was a friendship I could not compare to any other simply because I chose what he knew and he knew he was doing the same. We could tell one another things we’d never tell anyone else as neither of us came across as judgmental people and even if we were those opinions would in no way effect our ‘real lives’.

The reason I am telling you this story is not as some kind of “BE CAREFL AROUND STRANGERS THEY WILL FIND YOU AND KILL YOU” rant, although that is probably alright advice to keep in mind. I’m still here, nothing ‘happened’. About a year after I first encountered MM I deleted my Facebook profile just for a bit of a break from social media. We said our farewells and promised that once I inevitably made a new profile we’d get back in touch and carry on where we left off.

Too short of a while later, feeling cut off from the outside world (it’s sad how deleting Facebook makes you feel like that, right?) I got back online and deleted MM and his ‘real’ profile. A while later I received a message from him saying “:)” and nothing more. He did not try to add me again and while searching for his profile the next day found he had blocked me. I’ve never been able to find him since. I like to think that we both felt satisfied with how far our friendship could possibly go under the circumstances and his last message was a way of showing me there were no hard feelings – he understood.

Sometimes I pass a stranger in the street and we make eye contact and I convince myself it’s him. I know that he could have easily been a middle-aged fugitive with row after row of jars containing eyes of his victims in his log cabin in the woods. He could have been an old lady with grandchildren who wore those old-fashioned nude pantyhose. He could have been a 12 year old with a vivid imagination and hippy parents that made him try hallucinogenics in order to ‘expand his way of thinking’. I don’t know.

68% of people ‘share’ a Facebook photo as an advertisement for themselves – to give others a better sense of who they are (http://oginenergy.com/sites/default/files/Contagious-Content.pdf). Isn’t every social media profile a façade? We choose what/how to update or upload or share in a way that allows us to come across as the person we want everyone to see. Everyone reckons clicking on a profile is a window in to their world when in fact it’s only what they want you to see – and they want you to see it for a specific reason. How different was my friendship with MM to the friendship we have with the people we know are ‘real’, but only have contact with online? And the amount of time we spend reading what other people have to say and comparing ourselves with them and their pictures and the amount of likes they have on their whatever – how much of that is the real them? 

Just something to think about when your self-esteem is affected by something you read from someone online. The next time a cutesy couple posts a picture of themselves baking cookies captioned “OMG so yummeh, and I’m not talking about the cookies teheheheh” a small part of me will remember my friend MM and how I really knew nothing about him. His first profile was a way for him to put a message across: his disdain for Facebook memorial pages and the people that created them. He wanted to provoke and be disliked. His second profile was a way for him to connect with another person. He wanted to be understood and admired and to build a friendship. One person with two agendas and two profiles in order to do that effectively. Who knows if either of those were the real him? That cutesy couple might be falling apart, and need validation from their friends in order to convince themselves they can work. A few likes on a picture of them doing something adorable like baking can actually provide that – trust me I’ve been there (although not with baking, I need to stay away from kitchens for health and safety reasons).

I dunno. I think we can all take something from that.

breaking bad 3

“Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly/spider…”

After brutally vacuuming up a total of 16 spiders from my bedroom walls this evening I realised the end of procrastination was nigh. It became apparent that I had done pretty much everything possible to avoid making a difficult decision and now had nothing left to do but sit and think about it. “However, I COULD write a blog post about vacuuming those spiders which gives me another solid half an hour or so of not making a decision”. And that’s my piss-poor explanation/apology for whatever spiel you’re about to read.

I generally like spiders; they keep the bothersome fly population under control and apparently some have brains so big that their other organs have to overflow in to their legs. I was going to let the 5 in my peripheral vision set up shop for a while until they inevitably made tracks. Maybe one was a boy spider and one was a girl spider and they liked each other and wanted to riddle my room with baby spiders. Now they have died a death in my vacuum bag as tragic as Jack Dawson in the icy waters surrounding the Titanic.

This gif is probably showing something very similar to the spider's last moments being sucked in to a hoover.
This gif is probably showing something very similar to the spider’s last moments being sucked in to a hoover.

I’m not a fidgety person unless something is bothering me. I was sat at my laptop glancing over at these spiders wondering how they had the nerve to just dangle there distracting me. Didn’t they have better things to do like make a slightly more remarkable web than the one pitifully hanging by a mere thread? And what food store had they compiled between them? ONE MOTH. It was just embarrassing. There are insects adventuring around my bedroom all the time with it being an underground cellar conversion.

I then did that thing I do where I feel sorry for inanimate objects and insects with no real understanding of life and death. They aren’t so bad, these spiders. They don’t deserve to die. My counter-argument was that their silk is supposedly as strong as steel and that they could easily take over the world with that and their vast numbers if only they had the damn motivation. So why SHOULD I feel sorry for them?

I realise in retrospect that they hadn’t done anything wrong, these peaceful arachnids. I was taking my troubles of not being able to make this important decision out on my eight-legged friends and dragged the hoover in to my room with a cackle as disturbing as Norman Bates.

"Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."
“Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”

Once I got started there was no stopping me – destroying a family of five wasn’t enough. I scoured the corners of my room for any more spiders that were hiding from me and by the end had an impressive collection of 128 legs in my hoover. Did I feel good about myself? No. I remember a teacher telling me never to vacuum up spiders because they can survive and crawl back out the hoover again.. which is a fairly disturbing thought due to my paranoia about insects having an instinct for revenge.

I have basically wasted 30 minutes to conclude that I am indecisive AND a murderer.

“Women are said to never say what they mean and men never mean what they say.”

Human relationships make the world go round. Psychology teaches us that interaction with fellow homosapians (or for all you crazy cat ladies out there, mammals) is essential for well-being and good mental health.  Social interaction is unbelievably complex; women are said to never say what they mean and men never mean what they say, people pretend to dislike you so someone else likes them, a boy and a girl who call themselves friends apparently always have secret feelings for one another because lord forbid a penis and vagina being in such close proximity so often would ever lead to anything other than sex. We’ve been interacting with other people for so long you’d assume we’d have it all sussed out by now, yet communication breakdown seems to be the number one reason for relationship failures.

Imagine a world where everyone was open and honest all the time. I believe I am quite an open person – which fairs well with my male relationships and not so well with the female ones. If I want the last slice of pizza I will duel to the death in order to claim it. I don’t do so well with the girly pleasantries of “you can have it”, “oh no, YOU can have it” unless I genuinely don’t want it. Unladylike, you say? If being unladylike means I can be honest and quit the faffing chuck me a Yorkie bar and be done with it. Although I have yet to perfect this technique, I consciously try to be as open and honest as possible. I’ve seen too many good things go bad in the past just because I can’t ever say what I actually mean.

I wish I could pretend this example I’m going to use is a hypothetical situation but embarrassingly I’ve been here with a guy I was sort-of-seeing. And don’t make a face like this is weird because I’m certain we’ve all visited Awkward Alley before at least once. The writing in green is what is being said and the writing in red is what is actually meant.

X: Do you want to hang out tomorrow?

Do you want to hang out tomorrow?

Y: Um, it’s up to you.

Yes

X: Well I don’t mind.

If you’re not bothered I’m not going to show I’m bothered.

Y: Well do you have anything else on?

You have nothing else on so why would you not see me? Is it my thighs?

X: No, just chilling.

I told you I have nothing else on tomorrow so why would you ask?

Y: Ok. If you fancy it just let me know.

We both know we’re going to hang out tomorrow but I’ll pretend like I don’t know that.

X: Alright, see you whenever.

Alright, see you tomorrow.

In an ideal world, wouldn’t that conversation have gone something like this?

X: Do you want to hang out tomorrow?

Y: Yeah that’d be nice.

X: Cool, pick you up at 9?

Y: Sounds good, bring lube.

The frustrating thing is that both parties know exactly what is going through the other person’s head (aka the writing in red), yet still both come out with what’s written in green. WHY?! And look, I do this all the time too. I’m not pretending to be some kind of revolutionary communicator. I am aware of this and try very hard not to do it but I am just as big a culprit as the rest of you. It’s almost as if we can’t help doing it. Once you become aware that the red writing is happening there’s all this blue writing scrolling across the bottom of the screen that is your mind saying why are you saying that? over and over. We’re constantly fighting an inner battle with ourselves, but I feel sorrier for those people in denial of the red writing. They don’t even realise they’re chatting bollocks; at least we accept we’re stupid.

If you sit and think too much about nothing anyone says making sense it really does feel like your brain is going to implode. So I shall leave you with this: a llama in a scarf.

Image
How majestic.

Let’s talk about Ciretta

Here are 10 things that make me happy, just because:

1. Those Tesco Value knock-off custard creams that are like 40p for a pack. I also kind of hate these though because you don’t feel bad for eating the whole lot in one go seeing as you get them so cheap and then you feel really sick because all of the sugar and need to make yourself a slice of buttery toast. Then you get the urge for something sweet-tasting again and the cycle continuous that like of the sun rising and setting each day.

2. The colour green. It’s always been my favourite colour. I think when I was younger I just wanted to be different to all the girls wearing pink and thought I was über-cool and original to like green. Now it reminds me of nature and vegetables and the carpet in my old house.

3. Notebooks. My ex-boyfriend would wake in the dead of night to find me still tapping away on my laptop in the dark shopping for beautiful notebooks online. There are so many god damn varieties that I have a huge collection of unopened notebooks that I just like to look at and dream of what could be filling the pages one day. Notebook shopping is one of very few shopping experiences I can tolerate.

4. Friendly strangers. In some villages of Yorkshire when I’ve been doing the walk-of-shame home from a party at 7am there will be those early risers (usually old people) walking their dog or whatever in those hats that look like something a farmer would wear. We all know what I’ve been doing. I am clearly in yesterday’s dress. Every so often this is overlooked and I get a genuinely friendly stranger conversing with me, just because I’m there. “Hello dear. Bit nippy this morning isn’t it?” People are always so weird about talking to strangers, especially on public transport and that. To be honest I find it odd sitting on a bus surrounded by people staring into the distance in silence as if they’re the only people in existence. There are so many people in the world we completely ignore who might have a million things in common with you or really need your help if you gave them a chance.

5. Writing. I had the privilege of a ‘Social and Literary Studies’ graduate as a father who was my original inspiration for wanting to know about everyone/everything and then write as much as I could about it. When I was little I wrote loads of stories in between the tiny spaces of the lines in newspaper articles. I think that was because my parents spent a small fortune on printing paper for me to write on and it eventually had to be rationed.

6. Clothes with owls on it. Now, this is a HUGE issue for me. My family and I support Sheffield United FC, fondly known as ‘The Blades’, and the nickname of our rival team (Sheffield Wednesday) is ‘The Owls’. I have this real cute jumper with an owl pattern printed on it which I’m not allowed to wear in the house. I understand. I have to suffer for my disloyalty.

7. Reptiles. As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts I am not a massive fan of animals. Anything cute and fury usually just secretes their fluff all over my clothing as if they’re saying “don’t you dare forget about me you horrible excuse for a female”, or I convince myself there’s something in their eyes telling me they’re hatching a plot to take over the world. However, I do own two beautiful leopard geckos which I love more than any other living being. They remind me of dinosaurs and I love dinosaurs. Cats and dogs are so 2013 – REPTILES are the pet of the future. Also when I went to the zoo last year there was a humongous Komodo dragon that I felt some weird instant connection with. Everyone else ran off to laugh at the monkeys and I just pressed my head against the glass of his enclosure and stared at his beauty. Did you know that when Komodo dragons attack their prey, say a deer, they go for the feet first to knock them off balance? THAT’S SO CLEVER AND EFFICIENT.

8. Going out to eat. I sound like a middle-aged professional here but sometimes I genuinely do prefer getting dressed up and going out for a meal with friends than anything else. I love takeaways. I love home-made food. Sometimes it’s a nice change to sit and have everything done for you AND it not taste like heart disease. Devouring a meal with a glass of wine is also an excuse to people-watch. Sometimes I like to sit and make up stories about the people sat on tables around me. That couple on my left are on their 3rd date and they’re going to get laid tonight. You can tell because they ordered oysters.

9. The blissful naivety of children. I have a 4 year-old sister and a 2 year-old brother who are the apples of my eye. I’m not really a “kid” person but when they’re related to you and can’t pronounce your name properly you’re gonna be biased. I learn a lot about myself in just watching them play or during conversations with them. So many simple things fascinate them. They can be entertained for hours on end by the same tedious game. If I change the tone of my voice they can find something previously dull extremely interesting and it really makes me think about the simple pleasures of life we all overlook as adults. Scarlett and Jude are never bored. They can pick up a crayon and create a whole fantasy world in their head about King Crayon and his quest to find the people of his kingdom over Pencil Case Hill. It’s inspiring, really.

10. Elves. I’m not really sure where my obsession with elves came from. It could have been when I was dragged to the cinema to watch Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers back in 2002 (which was the start of all my love for LOTR) or when I created my first ever Wood Elf character on the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind back in 2003 when we first got an Xbox. A rogue elf character with a bow and arrow and x1.5 sneak damage for a ranged critical hit? Nothing cooler.

Someone will accidentally read this and spicy bananas will become a thing.

I am currently reading a book called ‘Blogging for Happiness‘ by Ellen Arnison. Ellen has just suggested that I write a very quick, very simple blog update using something floating around aimlessly in the back of my mind and which I don’t really feel the need to talk about. So here is that thing.

Choosing to eat spicy food is something I struggle to come to terms with. I swear, in my top 10 list of worst torture methods I’d put being forced to eat a Vindaloo quite high up there along with being tickled and having my fingers chopped off. You can’t taste anything when food is that spicy. It’s literally just spice. Oh hey, I fancy spice today. I need a pint of milk with my meal because it’s basically just spice on spice. I go red in the face and start choking but man do I love curry. WHAT? Explain yourself guys.

I get that hot food is a part of some cultures but I am British and my palate can stretch as far as two different kinds of potato with my Christmas dinners. There is a reason I put salt and pepper on everything: my taste buds are so limited that I need this familiar flavour on practically everything I shovel into my mouth in order to finish a meal. And I’m really ok with that. How do you holy entity-like creatures of this country MANAGE these dishes?

I remember ordering a takeaway with a good friend one evening while watching reruns of ‘Friends’ – it was from an Indian restaurant but I still ordered a cheeseburger. My friend got himself a huge, hot curry with actual full pieces of chili just chilling on his plate like they weren’t going to so very soon destroy his mouth. And this is what he said after the first forkful: “man, I’m gonna shit well tomorrow”. I can’t even begin, guys. The hot food fad is beyond me. Like, I appreciate toilet time just as much as the next human being, but I wouldn’t purposefully eat something that is 100% going to give me the shits the next day. Is it a man thing? Men don’t really seem fazed by poo. I don’t know. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

The one thing I have constantly been picked on for by my male mates is my inability to eat hot food. One time, in 6th form at school, my friends and I were queuing for our lunch. We’d left it quite late and the choice was limited, so I picked up a chicken tikka wrap which I had never tried before – and oh my god. I had tears running down my face and I am told that chicken tikka is not even considered a hot food. Is there something wrong with me or can at least one reader relate to my bafflement? I’ve even Googled “health disadvantages of eating spicy food” as some kind of feeble attempt of a back-up argument and found nothing. I feel like I am going to die every single time I am forced into eating something spicy; I was sure chilies slowly burned the inside of your stomach lining until it killed you.

Do you know what I like to eat? Cheese, and stuff. I like food that doesn’t alter bowel movement or set off volcanic explosions in your mouth. What pleasure do you people gain from wanting to rip your own tongue out of your head? I have been in situations where I have to rest my tongue in a pot of petit filous yoghurt for an unnatural amount of time in order to cool it down. Eat a banana, they said. It’ll help with the spice, they said. NOW I CAN JUST TASTE SPICY BANANA. THERE’S A REASON THAT IS NOT A DELICACY.

I don’t really know what I expected to come of this blog post. It’s just a rant, I guess. I usually try and spread some helpful message but I simply just don’t understand the love for spice and needed to vent that. Knowing my luck someone will accidentally read this and spicy bananas will become a thing. I don’t need that in my life right now.