General Election Angst

I really love politics. I’d never pretend to know a whole lot about it but it is something that really interests me and that actually, I feel quite passionately about. With a general election approaching I couldn’t resist writing a little about it. Maybe in another post I will write about my political views and give some rationale for them but not today. 
This may end up only being a short entry. All I really wanted to say is how much I hate it when peoples reasoning for voting for certain parties is mostly based on why they shouldn’t vote for someone else. I realise that wasn’t very well worded…

One of the biggest problems with the brexit campaign, for me, was the fact that instead of focusing on the positives of their campaign and trying to persuade people to vote for them, people resorted to simply slagging off their opponents. 

And certainly from many of my friends on Facebook that’s all I am seeing again in the run up to this election. Very few people are saying “oh we should vote for this guy because his policy on this is really good.” They’re all saying burn the witch Theresa May, she’s done this horrid thing and Jeremy Hunt has committed this monstrous act. (Not my views: disclaimer)

As important as it may be to compare policies between parties is there not a way to do it in a more dignified manor please? I get it, people get incredibly passionate about this stuff and that’s great! It means people care and they will go out and provoke change. But how can all these Crobyn supporters ridicule UKIP voters for being stereotypical assholes when they themselves are lumping all conservatives under the banner of wealthy idiots who want all the money. 

Maybe this is a good time to briefly mention my views. On paper I’m a firm labour supporter. I grew up in a very working class family in a relatively small town in the north of England. I would reckon some of labours heartlands, yet I have always voted conservative. 

I’d also like to say I don’t think I’m the type of person to vote blindly on these matters, I read the manifestos, I watch the debates and I go with what I think is right. But I would never be as aggressive to my labour friends as they are being to the world on Facebook with their endless sharing and posting about how terrible the tories are. 

So please can we all be a little bit nicer to each other? It’s okay to try and persuade others of your views but don’t be an ass about it and if I have views of my own that won’t budge. Respect them for gods sakes!

America #1

During my first gap year I had the absolute incredible pleasure of spending a few months in America working over summer. I applied for Camp America in a fit of pique because I hated living at home with my terrible step father. He isn’t actually terrible and really I should thank him for being grumpy sometimes because it meant I got to spend a summer in the states!

I applied just after the normal deadline but instead of decline me they put me onto a special ‘ready, Steady, Go!’ program which meant I could end up leaving for America at very short notice. It was all a bit of a dream for a few months, my application was sent off and I did the required interview but I honestly didn’t believe I would actually get a place at a camp, especially because I’d applied very impulsively.

But then one Saturday evening, halfway through a 12 hour shift at work, I got an email from a camp in Virginia asking if I could run the drama program for the summer. Of course I had to accept and I snook outside to send an reply saying I would love to go. I swiftly got a reply telling me my flight out to camp would be on Tuesday morning. That’s right, Tuesday, as in two full days away.

My boss had already left for the day so I desperately tried to contact him and I of course told my mother and father that I would be leaving them for a while. I was doing another 12 hour shift on the Sunday so I went in a little early to talk to my boss who was amazing and told me I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this and that when I returned my job would be waiting for me.

So I worked all day Sunday which left me Monday, one day, to sort everything. I had to arrange to be at London Heathrow at 6am for my flight and I had to do shopping and pack for a 3 month trip. That was a crazy day but I pulled through and booked myself onto an overnight coach to London.

This all happened so quickly that it wasn’t until I was sat in Times Square with all my luggage that I realised what was going on. I was shit scared. I was alone in New York with a few hours to kill before my Greyhound down to Virginia. When I arrived in Virginia I’d have to meet with a perfect stranger at silly o’clock in the morning at a gas station and I’d be spending the next 10 weeks looking after kids. What the hell was I thinking applying for this?!

On top of all this my SIM card wasn’t working yet so I desperately tried to find a phone shop to get something so I could at least tell my folks that I was safe. They hadn’t heard from me after all since I got on the plane in London hours earlier. So I found an AT&T to buy a temporary SIM card so I could at least send one text to let them know I was safe. That didn’t work either and American phone plans are expensive! It took so long to get my phone working that my mum had been ringing the camp to see if I was there and of course I wasn’t yet I was in New York. She panics at the Brest of times, I can’t imagine what she was thinking.

I managed to contact camp though and tell them I had arrived in NY and that I would be on the Greyhound as planned to meet them in Exmore, VA. After a long coach trip and a short car ride into Camp Silver Beach in was again silly AM so I snook into a cabin with the other guys and went to bed.

I woke up with them all in the morning but fear got the better of me and I stayed in bed until they had all left. I knew they were heading to the canteen for breakfast so I got ready on my own and slowly made my way over. I can’t really remember what the reaction was when I walked in that first time. Although I do remember people saying they didn’t even realise I was there that morning when they got up.

Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about as everyone at the camp was amazing. I quickly settled in and of course my closest friends became some of the girls.The first week I was there was a training week so we had a few talks on safety and how to deal with the kids and we spent a few afternoons in the sun and enjoying the facilities at camp before it was overrun with children.

I was going to enjoy this.

Brains Can Be Scary

In my first placement I sometimes had to help whilst a child was cannulated. For those who don’t know what that means, it’s were the doctors put what the child probably thinks is an enormous needle into their hand as intravenous access. Obviously for a child this isn’t a simple procedure and they would often fight as much as they could to stop the stabbing!

I felt bad if I was ever involved because I had to ‘restrain’ the child a little. In this case restrain simply means to hold their hand and sometimes arm to make sure it was still whilst the needle went in. I realise now this is probably as far from actual restraint as I could have got whilst still feeling guilty.

After six very productive weeks back in lectures the time came for my second placement. I was based on a neurology and metabolic ward, great stuff, there’d be loads of new interesting things for me to learn. Indeed on the first day I spent a good while googling various things from the handover over sheet that I’d never heard of before. 

The first day passed by quite uneventfully, being only my second placement I wasn’t as confident as some of the third years who were practically running the ward when I got there. So when the evening rolled by and a child started having a..moment?…I wasn’t really sure how to react.

I say moment because I don’t know how else to describe it, maybe an episode? They’d recently been diagnosed with encephalitis causing rapid changes in personality. I can’t imagine how the family must feeling watching their child turn into someone else and hear them say some appalling things to them. I’m not even sure how I felt watching the other nurses huddled around this child screaming on the floor. This could be a tough six weeks.

The reason I opened with the ‘restraining’ tale was because on my second day, another patient on the ward had a very frightening episode. The patient had Opsoclonus Myoclonus (I’m still not entirely sure what that is) and had been suffering from severe hallucinations. For about five hours that morning she was seeing snakes and spiders and goodness knows what else crawling around her and over her. And sometimes, we did have to restrain her.

I wouldn’t say I’m particularly scared of creepy crawlies but I definitely would not want them all over my bed. We took her for a walk to try and calm her down and get away but the hallucinations struck again. In the middle of the ward she was screaming and crying out to be carried away. As a student I am still getting to grips with what we can and can’t do, both as a student and as registered nurses. Deciding it would be best for her and everyone else on the ward I complied and carried her away to a treatment room

Along with a staff nurse we held her on the floor to comfort her and reassure her that there was nothing in here that could hurt her. What perhaps made things worse is that she was fully aware that it was her mind playing tricks on her. She knew it wasn’t real but the terror in her eyes was. In a desperate attempt to get rid of whatever she could see she would throw herself around the room. Of course we had no choice but to stop her. 

I wouldn’t change what I do for anything, I love being a (student) nurse, but that second day proved to me more than anything else so far that this is possibly one of the toughest careers I could haven chosen. The amount of respect and admiration I have for the full time staff on neurology wards is sky high right now. I can’t wait to get back to work to keep helping and I hope that in six weeks time when it’s time for me to leave I’ll have seen at least some of these terrible diseases cured in these children. 

Right Place. Wrong Time. 

What feels like a lifetime ago, I met a man in ‘York’ (I’ve changed the names and places for anonymity). One of my closest friends was studying in the city and so me and another friend (yes I have several) would take the motorway down to spend a few days in the city of…nope I got nothing. Since our last trip I had become proficient at Grindr and had no hesitation whipping it out and chatting to some southern beaus. One particular chest caught my eye more than the others and we started chatting, the chest had a face! And it was a nice one to, a lovely chap who, upon hearing of my approaching departure date, was as keen to meet as I was.

So I explained all to my friends and said that, for the morning, I would be ditching them but they were thrilled at how fast I’d managed to arrange a date. So I headed off to meet my new man and we had a little chat over a hot chocolate and proceeded to take a little tour around a few parks and the waterfront. We’ve already established my heart is way out on my sleeve so naturally I began planning my future with this fine gentleman as we meandered through the city. But the morning flew by and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye and return to my friends.

But after a few texts we both agreed to make the most of our time together and after lunch with my girls, I headed back out to a new park, date number two on the same day! In hindsight, when I got home, it was a bit of a stupid idea to go on a date. Especially because it had turned out so well! I really felt like I could like this guy and yet I had to head home to waste away in the heart of Lancashire whilst he galavanted around London and …York (London was his work home).

So we carried on texting for a while but of course, given the distance, things just fizzled out. There was one occasion when he text me asking “why did we stop talking?” I was quick to remind him that he had never replied to one of my texts. So I ‘moved on’, fell for a few other men from the North and never got anywhere with any of them. And then I received an offer for university in London! My dreams were coming true, I could be a young runagay heading to the bright lights of the city. Living near the bright lights turned out to be a flat in Lewisham but it could’ve been worse.

This is relevant I promise, remember York (I’ll just call him that from now on) was in London Monday to Friday for work. This was it, I was going to go to uni, see every show on the west end and I was going to reconnect with Prince Charming. My Disney tale was finally happening. So over the summer I got back in touch, just casually, to bring up that I’d be moving down and at the end of the summer, after an open day, we decided to meet up in the park. Having not seen each other for the best part of a year and having ended our last meeting with a make out session outside my friends house, this had the potential to be somewhat awkward. But we shared a hug and spent the evening on primrose hill catching up. There was definitely something there between us I knew it.

So me and my flatmate made the move and I made sure to keep up the effort in getting to know York, we’d go for lunch or to dinner and he always paid. That was a sign right? Then there was a drunk call. Having never made one myself I had to read into this only what I had seen from my friends. If they ever drunk dialled, it was to a potential date or an ex. This was just what I needed, this was almost confirmation of our feelings for each other. So, close to my birthday I took the plunge and asked York out on a date.

“Awww Rob” – I hated it when he did that, he was so cute. But he’d started seeing someone else in ‘York’, how sweet. I was happy for him. No honestly I was! I’d given it a shot and he wasn’t available, I handled the situation very well. No tears, no drama and it meant I still had a great friend in London, which were in short supply.

Then birthday week came and he took me out to the theatre and for dinner and a few little drinks afterwards and I was thinking the whole night ‘god I just want to kiss you.’ He was too nice and that was making it very hard to move on! Then came my ‘three dates in three days’ fiasco and he was being so protective and I had a hard time believing that this was just coming from a place of friendship, we barely knew each other after all.

Then the following week he suggested we go out ‘dancing’ which in this case meant getting drunk and slut dropping in G-A-Y. Not what I would call dancing but there you go. Being fully aware of my feelings I decided to take it slow with the alcohol, as soon as I start sobering up I can get pretty emotional and I didn’t need that tonight. So we danced and had a great night and that’s the end of that.

I wish. It was a busy night at the club and as we moved around we’d hold hands so as to not lose each other, perfectly innocent stuff, I’d do that with any of my friends. Then when we decided to leave, holding hands so we made it out together, and we started to head down oxford street praying for a 24 hour McDonald’s. York was hungry. Oh but wait, why am I beaming like an idiot…oh right we’re still holding hands and McDonald’s is closed and we’re heading back to his. God help me.

I’ll spare all the gory details, mostly because there aren’t any, I’m very proud of myself that I rejected his advances that night. Of course I couldn’t turn down a cuddle and we had some really great conversation as we lay together. But dawn arrived too quickly and my perfect night had come to an end. Going out the night before a day in university is never a great idea, getting half an hours sleep and being an hour away from home is even worse. So I dragged myself out of bed as he muttered his apologies and why this could never happen again.

The first train of the day, back home, went rather smoothly. I didn’t have time to be upset, I needed to get home, get dressed and get back on the train. So I did the speediest change of my life, grabbed my uniform and headed back out. I’m not going to lie, I’m not entirely sure what I learnt that day, I was so incredibly tired I was just concentrating on keeping my eyes open. At last the day rolled to a close and I found myself on the train back home. With the pressure of university gone and a free weekend ahead of me, my brain turned to the events of the previous night. And I cried. On a train. That’s right, I was in floods of tears from London Bridge all the way to Hither Green. What a fool.

Unfortunately I spent the next week crying and feeling like a 12 year old again. But a few months down the line I am happy to say we are still great friends and I wouldn’t change anything about that night. The first few times I saw York after that brought back the tears but we’ve reached a happy place. And I am so happy he is enjoying his time with his fella whilst I sit inside writing…

Nursing #1

Over a year ago, I decided that I should apply to university (again) to get a degree in nursing. I had already finished a year at university doing Music Theatre and as much as I love theatre, I decided it wasn’t for me. Throughout high school I had wanted to be a doctor but in college I was torn between medicine and drama. So at A-Level I studied Biology, Chemistry, Performance Studies and Drama & Theatre Studies and I spent the next two years listening to people tell me that was an odd mix!

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t finish my A-Levels to the standard I could have. Towards the end of college I’d given up a little. I had a decent job that I loved, I had a car and great friends and a boyfriend! I was comfortable and I was happy, so why change anything? My last round of exams I flunked and I left college with a BCD. I could have easily got at least ABB.

Thanks to my comfortable life I had also written off the idea of going to university but I had already applied to several to study musical theatre. I also blame the pressure of my mother for forcing me to go to university. I stand by that but I beg anyone who thinks about going to uni for someone else’s sake to stop! 

After a year working and driving round the country visiting my friends at uni the time came to claim my place to study at UCLan. I wouldn’t change that year for anything, I met some amazing people and gained some lifelong friends. Actually if I hadn’t have gone there I would never have met my current flatmate so I probably wouldn’t be in London.

But shortly after Christmas I begin to despise the course, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was wasting my time and money…and I wasted a lot of money. Thankfully my old boss was asking me every week to go back to work. Which was a great ego boost and meant I had a job waiting for me when I finished that year. I emailed the course leader telling him I wasn’t going to return and went back to my old job.

The course leader never replied to my email because he was terrible and I can’t wait for the day he retires…or dies…so the course can be run by a decent human being. But I wrote a strongly worded email to the school of arts and all of that was sorted. No more student loan for me!

Another top tip for university, avoid your overdraft like the plague. It took me the best part of a year to claw my way out of mine and now I’m back at uni I swear I’m not touching it again…well not too much.

It was in this year that I decided that if drama wasn’t my calling then healthcare must be. I took the plunge and applied for children’s nursing courses across the country. Being a doctor was definitely off the menu after my less than ideal college results. But that was okay, nursing was an incredible field and I couldn’t wait to start. That was a good sign to me, I was actually excited about going to uni!

As soon as I got an offer from London South Bank I knew that’s where I would be going, sorry Bristol and Cumbria! So here I am living the dream in the capital and I can very proudly say that after 8 months on the course I am absolutely loving it! So I suppose a good way to fill up the blog would be to write about nursing and my experiences of it. But you needed a little background first.

Also if I throw myself into my studies (and writing about them) it means I am sufficiently distracted from the dating scene so I won’t have anymore tragic dates to write about! Which is always good.

Robert.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’ve never written a ‘review’ before but I started re-watching ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ the other day and I’m starting to realise this time around what an amazing show it is. Especially after my little breakdown over Flynn.

One of my best friends once made a video about what depression feels like for her (link below) and I think everyone in their lives will have felt some of those emotions before, even maybe some together. But to feel all of these conflicting things all at once. It can drive a person insane. But I think one of the worst feelings, is to feel nothing at all. A week ago, after I’d finished crying and I managed to drag myself out of my chair. I felt nothing at all, an emptiness and that leads to confusion and fear. But I got through it in a few days. I have low patches, sometimes really low, but I can usually pull myself out of them and if I keep myself busy and productive then I can keep myself happy. But some people can’t do that, they get stuck in that low.

The show ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ is, on the surface, a hilarious musical, satirical drama about a plucky young lawyer, Rebecca Bunch, who moves from New York to live her dreams in SoCal. And in this case her ‘dreams’ are definitely not about Josh Chan, her childhood sweetheart. Because to move to West Covina for Josh, now ‘that’d be strange.’

From the very first episode, ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ throws mental illness in your face. Rebecca is clearly struggling with depression and we see a mountain of pills kept in her bag. Even when offered a dream promotion at work she faces an existential crisis and in that moment, decided to drop everything and move across the country to follow Josh. Not that she’ll admit it.

It wasn’t until the end of season two, of my first run through, that I realised how clever Rachel Bloom, the creator and lead, has been to embed the issues of anxiety and depression into the show. The cheesy musical numbers provide a nice distraction from the fact that our clearly unstable lead is ignoring her problems. She pushes ahead with her ‘normal’ life, only to the detriment of her health. And in ignoring her problems she spins wild fantasies and lies which inevitably come back to bit her in the rear.

By airing all these issues in such a huge hit, Rachel is helping to humanise people suffering with mental health. She shows that sometimes people might not be entirely in control of their lives. She said herself that her own depression had invaded her brain like an alien and in Rebecca, this alien has been their for so long that it has become part of her. But it isn’t who she is and only by acknowledging her problems and asking for help can she ever hope to get rid of the monster that is depression.

The character is so relatable in the show that it’s hard not to be able to make comparisons between her and myself, even if Rebecca does take everything to the extreme. How many of us have put all of our effort into work to distract from our dull lives at home? I know I have. If I’m sat in the library writing an essay it means I’m not in my flat feeling lost and alone. Sure I didn’t move hundreds of miles to chase a childhood love but I’ve done my fair share of pining over a long lost fling. And I’ve definitely had days where I would love to buy a house a thousand miles away and start a new life but I’ve never had the budget for that.

The dark humour that permeates through the show not only shows the genius of Rachel Bloom but also serves to highlight some of the issues that millions of people face every day. And if people talk about it, then it becomes okay to talk about it and that is one of the best ways to help, to have an outlet for those damaging emotions building up inside.

I highly recommend ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ to all and I can’t wait for season three. And I would implore that if you watch it, you don’t do so superficially but see the effort that has gone into creating such an imaginative and important show.

https://youtu.be/BWB2ZVhWxU4 – ‘Depression’ by itsverypop

Robert.

‘I Can’t Have Feelings Right Now’

26th March 2017

After the Christmas break there was no time to head back to uni, I was going straight out into the hospital for my first placement. How exciting! Naturally I checked Grindr on my breaks and I started seeing some regular faces. One in particular stood out, tanned, tall and a great smile! Based on the other tragic tales of my love life it’s easy to guess how this one ends.

Well I’m going to skip straight to the end. I’m currently sat at home feeling terribly empty whilst outside the sun is shining and Londoners enjoy there day. Let’s call this one…Flynn. I left Flynn’s flat this morning and as soon as I closed the front door, yep you guessed it, I cried. I cried walking to Blackfriars, I cried on the train and I cried for a while curled up in a ball in my living room. We’ve been on five dates. Five! I’m pathetic I know.

Flynn and I had actually exchanged messages on Grindr a while back and I think we swapped number then. We spoke a little but nothing came of it. Then when I started placement he got back in touch, we transitioned to WhatsApp once again but failed to arrange a suitable time or place to meet. Fast forward a few weeks and I’m back in lectures and he strikes up conversation again, he must be keen. And this time, success, we were heading on a night out. So I meet him after work and we head into Soho to get our drinks on.

He’s great! Handsome, intelligent, a doctor(win) and has a great flat up near Russel Square. I spend the night at his and, sticking to my three date rule, I kept him waiting that night. Monday morning arrives and he gets up to make pancakes. I have breakfast in bed on the first date, this guy is a keeper. We spend the afternoon in the British Museum then head back to his place for a nap. Since he treated me to breakfast I decide I’ll reward him with a blowjob. Great first date. I head home and as any normal person does after an amazing date (right?) I have a little breakdown. I don’t know why I can’t just allow myself to be happy but for whatever reason I couldn’t. I knew right then that this was going to end in tears. And not his.

Several dates followed and every time we met I fell a little more in love with Flynn. I’m not saying I was in love with him but there was definitely potential to be. He was almost perfect, he was so kind and charming and he complemented be a tonne! When it came to the third date we took it slowly and he totally respected me in the bedroom. He was a dream.

Fast forward to the fifth date, not a very big number I know. He cooks me dinner and we have great sex. Really great. Then we settle down for a while watching Grace & Frankie (which I highly recommend) and we somehow end up having a rather deep conversation about our feelings. This sucks, I hate feelings, they ruin things and they make me sad. Indeed my dominant feelings lately tend to be to be sadness and loneliness. I don’t want to discuss that with a potential suitor!

We’d already spoken about his ex and I completely understand that they didn’t break up that long ago and that, of course, he didn’t want to dive right back into a relationship. Sure that upset me a bit but I dealt with it. Oh and I dealt with the fact that after our first date when I didn’t put out he just went and slept with his flatmate. I also dealt with the fact that he told me he’d just broken things off with someone he’d been seeing. Again, after our first date. But he was sweet enough that I let it go and I accepted we were just having fun and seeing what happened. Then he shows up for date five with love bites all over his neck, how attractive. But the surprisingly mature me lets it slide, ‘of course I’m not upset’ I proclaimed.

Then came this dreadful late night conversation, which was filled with compliments. How great my body is, my eyes, how great the sex is and how there was definitely something there between us. How it felt like we’d gone beyond the fifth date and that we had a connection. You’d think that’d be a dream to hear, apart from the ‘but.’ He said he was confused as to whether we’d moved fast because he was used to being in a relationship or because he liked me so much. Was I replacing his ex too quickly? In conclusion, he wanted to be friends but he just ‘couldn’t have feelings right now.’ I’m still not entirely sure what that means.

The next paragraph I wrote I had to take out, I wrote it when I was angry and upset and that wouldn’t be fair to Flynn. I’ve now gone an entire week without crying! And on reflection I think I do know what ‘not having feelings’ means. Because I completely agree with him! I am not in the right place right now to be anywhere near a relationship, but that’s okay!

I wrote back in December about my ‘dating bender’ and I said that I needed someone in my life to be happy. But I was walking to uni the other day and I suddenly thought to myself oh my God. I’m happy. I live in a beautiful city, I have the best friends I could ever wish for and I’m pursuing my dreams. And one day sure I hope I’ll be happy with a man on my arm. But right now, I don’t need that. I can’t need that. I can’t have feelings right now.

Robert.