SUNDAY #90 – Only

I said I wouldn’t talk about Glandular Fever any more (#getoveritKate), but when I returned to the office in July after a month off sick, one of my senior managers asked how my recovery was going. Physically, I’d completely recovered, but when he asked “How about mentally?” I decided to tell the truth and say “Not all that great”.

Post-fever, I naively expected to pick up where I’d left off and go back to my old self. Instead, I spent weeks feeling like I was sat behind glass, separate from situations I would normally be engaged in. If I managed to experience a drop of emotion, it was overwhelming, and it often brought on a panic so severe that I’d feel paralysed by it. Weirdly, I hid these panics exceptionally well, so I imagine anyone who’s reading this who knows me in person will be surprised to hear I almost wept at my desk (and on the tube) on a daily basis.

I didn’t tell many people I felt this way. My sisters knew, I told a few close friends, and I wrote pages of notes in my diary about it when I couldn’t sleep at night (despite being fucking exhausted). I read the entries back recently, and it made me sad that I felt such a strong and strange need to keep my feelings a secret. That’s madder than anything I was feeling at the time.

What gave eventually gave me comfort and some perspective was that my senior had been through the exact same thing when he contracted Glandular Fever years ago. He told me that for months after his initial diagnosis and recovery, he would burst in to tears for no reason, and couldn’t regulate his emotions. Even on the worst days when I’d come back to the flat after work, wrecked internally by nerves and paranoia; the comfort in knowing I hadn’t “gone wrong” (as I put it to my flatmate Kelly) and that this state was only temporary, was immense. That’s why I’ve written about it here. It’s important to tell people if you’re struggling.

Do you know what else helps? Music. Endless amounts of it. Even when you don’t want to dance to it, cry to it, or feel to it – music is always there to distract and eventually, to motivate you back in to health. We all need something to lean on when we feel weak; and Nine Inch Nails’ desolate, raging, brutally honest lyrics have been medicine to my ears on the most toxic days. I’m also grateful to my older brother for not being mad at me for ignoring his suggestion to listen to them five years ago.

Whether you’re feeling low due to poor physical health, or just generally out of sorts; put on a record, whack your little diary out, and write until you don’t make sense anymore. Read it back when you’re feeling better, and cut yourself some slack. Life can punch you right in the tits sometimes, but if you tell someone how you feel (or write a blog about it), you’ll be surprised at just how much relief it can bring.

I can’t wait to show you what the spoils of shaking off Glandular Fever look like for me. Keep your eyes peeled for more news, and listen to this vital tune in the meantime.

SUNDAY #89 – Dead Souls

If you don’t agree that ‘Dead Souls’ is one of Joy Division’s finest musical offerings, then we’ll have to cease contact immediately. The ominous guitar riffs, brooding bass lines, and angry anthemic lyrics make my soul feel anything but dead when I hear the opening drum beat.

I don’t own a copy of Still, the compilation album the track is featured on, and it’s not the first place I heard it either. I was (and still am) obsessed with the film The Crow, and ‘Dead Souls’ is covered on the film’s official soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails (aka Trent Reznor). I thought Reznor had penned the track himself, and it wasn’t until I watched Control – Anton Corbijn’s 2007 biopic about Ian Curtis – that I realised my mistake.

Whilst Joy Division’s rendition of ‘Dead Souls’ is incredible, I still regularly listen to Nine Inch Nails’ version because it resurrects the feelings of sheer escapism I experienced the first time I watched The Crow. Whichever way you manipulate it, ‘Dead Souls’ sounds great; and there are two more cover versions of the track I can’t get out of my head either.

The first is a cover by one of my favourite new bands, Manchester post-punks PINS. They featured ‘Dead Souls’ on their recent EP Bad Thing because it sat comfortably with the record’s theme of bad dreams and nightmares, and I think the girls’ echoing vocals are as haunting and foreboding at Curtis’.

The final cover comes from soon to be industrial icon Hate Vessel (aka my older brother Joe). It’s probably not cool or good for his reputation for me to talk about him on this blog, but fuck it. He’s covered ‘Dead Souls’ and he’s done a blinding job. I only have this live video that’s on Facebook, but I think you’ll get the gist

 

SUNDAY #88 – Nearly Forgot

Nearly forgot to write a blog because I’ve been busy making the flat sparkle, sorting out my finances, and religiously applying Sudocrem to the sunburn I acquired whilst watching yesterday’s London Pride Parade (#livingmybestlife)

Tomorrow is my first day back at work in over a month, and I’m weirdly excited about scrolling through the 1000+ emails that await me. I’m sure the novelty will wear off by lunchtime, but I’m looking forward to showing off this ‘healthy’ glow and getting back in to the swing of things.

*Judd Nelson fist pump*

 

SUNDAY #87 – Bad Habit

I wonder how productive I’d be if I spent more time looking forward and less time looking back. Then I remember I secretly enjoy being a sentimental drip, so I’ll probably never break that habit.

I’ve spent my weekend listening to Foals’ back catalogue and laughing at the photographs in the boxes stashed under my bed. I know people store all their pictures online nowadays, but I still print everything out because I refuse to fully embrace technology, or let go of the past. I beamed at pictures of my friends & I circa 2009 with our bad haircuts, questionable fashion sense, and fresh/drunken smiles. I used to take my camera everywhere (much to their dismay), so there’s stacks of unflattering pictures just waiting to be uploaded to the internet.

Somewhere along the line though, I stopped bringing my camera with me and I stopped documenting nights out. We used to be outside The Pink Toothbrush’s doors at 21:45, half-pissed, every Friday & Saturday. I used to take embarrassing photos of us all, and I used to write about it all the time in my diary. Eventually; budgets, the amount of leisure time, and people’s tastes shifted. No photographs and no diary entries become the new habit, and now I have less pictures to laugh at and less words to cringe at.

BUT – the good thing about habits is you can always break them, so hopefully in a few years time when I unearth that box of visual treasure again, I’ll have new photos of all of us doing the exact same things, but with slightly less grace and more obvious bags under our eyes.

I must stop looking back so often though. I’m in danger of getting chronic neck ache.

 

SUNDAY #86 – 6 Things I’ve Learned From Contracting Glandular Fever

I’m not the first person in the world to contract Glandular Fever and I won’t be the last, but I’m coming out the other side of the virus and I finally have the strength to make jokes(?) about it. 22 days ago, I woke up with a stabbing headache and a high temperature. “Oh it’s probably just a 48 hour thing” I jested to my parents, so I took it easy over the weekend and consoled myself with my own (massively incorrect) diagnosis.

A few days later, I almost blacked out in the shower. Like all responsible adults, I called my Mum and told her I couldn’t get registered in time at a new doctor’s surgery in London, but I was also too feeble to make the train journey back to Essex. BROTHER JOE AND HIS VAN TO THE RESCUE! Once I was back in Essex, my symptoms escalated and I ended up spending three nights in Hospital, even though my GP originally insisted I had a “water infection”. Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s good at giving massively incorrect diagnoses.

The good news is I’m finally feeling better, so I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned during my time as a pain riddled, frustrated, incredibly relieved survivor of this Godforsaken virus….

 

  1. Glandular Fever is fucking awful

Glandular Fever is commonly known as ‘The Kissing Disease’. It only takes one saucy bit of lip action to contract it, so I find it hilarious (and cruel) that I caught this adventurous and licentious disease when romantically, things have been very tame for me recently.

The virus struck me down like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t sit up straight for more than five minutes. I had a constant headache for 17 consecutive days (which baffled all of my doctors) and I spent all of my time horizontal, sleeping, or counting down the hours until I could take more Paracetamol (which felt like placebos towards the end). There’s no cure; you simply have to rest, avoid alcohol, and not engage in contact sports for 2-4 weeks. GREAT.

  1. DON’T GET WORKED UP IF YOU HAVE A TEMPERATURE, OKAY!?

Despite my general sunny disposition and optimistic heart, like most formerly shy kids with a point to prove – I have a volcanic rage burning inside of me. I am an expert at channelling, concealing and controlling it, but when I’m in severe pain or I have to keep repeating the sentence “IT’S NOT A WATER INFECTION” to multiple people; naturally, the rage begins to flare up.

On my second day in hospital, I was told by the doctor that if my bloods were clear, I would be discharged later that day. After the worst night’s sleep of my life (see next point for full details) this news genuinely comforted me. Fast forward a few hours, my temperature had risen by 2 degrees, and (quite rightly) they decided to keep me in for observation for another 24 hours. Internally, I erupted. I couldn’t make eye contact with my Mum, the doctor, or any other patients on the ward. I. Was. Livid.

Little did I know, getting angry or upset whilst you have a temperature causes your temperature to spike. My internal emotional combustion made my second night in hospital even more uncomfortable, so I resolved to CALM. THE FUCK. DOWN. and do everything I could (aka lay still and count the ceiling tiles) to make my mind and body cool again.

  1. The NHS is great, but you’re a joker if you think Hospitals are a good place for rest/sleep

Obviously, I love the NHS. They’ve kept me alive and properly medicated since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002, and for that I can’t fault them. However…

Having a prolonged headache made me extremely sensitive to any kind of noise, so much so that I had to wear the ear plugs I would usually wear at gigs to gain any kind of relief from the unbearable sound of everyday life. After a lengthy amount of time in an exceptionally loud A&E assessment ward, I was transferred to a proper ward at around 22:00, and much to my relief, the patients were nice and quiet. Hello restful, rejuvenating night’s sleep….

ONLY JOKING! As soon as my head hit the pillow, the ward burst in to life. The woman in the bed opposite me decided to strike up a conversation with the woman to my right about how inadequate her husband’s cooking skills were (that dragged on for 50 minutes). At approximately 3am, another patient decided to rip out her tubes/cannulas because they were “uncomfortable” and then complain that she was in pain when the nurse had to put them back in TO KEEP HER ALIVE. There was also an unfortunate soul who insisted there was something wrong with her catheter as she (quite disturbingly) yelped in pain, only for nurses to tell her she’d tangled the bloody tubes around her leg which is why it wasn’t working properly.

Finally; there was the heathen who slept through the whole night SNORING LIKE A PIG WHILST I SUFFERED NON-STOP WITH MY MIND-NUMBING HEADACHE UNTIL 6AM THE NEXT DAY WHEN I HAD TO CONSTRICT MY SHITTY CORNFLAKES AND AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH EVERYONE ON THE WARD (INCLUDING STAFF) WHO’D KEPT ME AWAKE, JUST IN CASE I SNAPPED AND SMASHED THE ENTIRE WARD TO PIECES. I hope this offers some insight as to why my temperature spiked when they told me I couldn’t go home…

  1. Codeine is the devil

“Take codeine” they said. “It’s stronger and more effective than Paracetamol” they said. These statements are true, but my body had other ideas. Codeine made me drowsy, it made me vom vom vom vomit, and best of all; it didn’t get rid of my headache. Fuck you codeine. You betrayed me.

  1. Not being able to listen to music is torture

A music journalist who can’t listen to music? Classic.

A heightened sensitivity to noise coupled with a chronic headache robbed me of the ability to distract myself with my favourite albums, and stopped me from attending all of the gigs I had penned in my diary (I missed Ho99o9’s gig at Underworld last week, definitely cried about that).

When my headache miraculously disappeared a few days ago, I cautiously watched Placebo’s live DVD ‘We Come In Pieces’ and it healed my heart and ear drums. Chelou’s ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ has also been an exceptional tonic.

  1. I feel a bit broken

I’ve tried to avoid being too aggressive or melancholy whilst writing this (lolz), but truthfully; Glandular Fever has scared the living daylights out of me. I can see the funny side now the headache’s subsided and I’m able to walk up the stairs without feeling like my legs are going to give way, but I’m worried about going back to ‘normality’ in this weakened state.

I’m having trouble sleeping because I keep thinking I’m still in hospital with a cannula in my arm, and I know that not drinking alcohol for the next few weeks is going to be a struggle for me. I also keep getting emotional when I think about having to leave my family home and go back to looking after myself in London again. In terms of independence, I feel like I’ve regressed about 15 years.

I guess those fears will evaporate in time, so I’ll just have to hold on to the hope that I’ll be fit and healthy again next time Ho99o9 are back in town.

Up yours Glandular Fever! (and thanks Mum, I’m a husk without you).

SUNDAY #85 – Effort

It’s been two months since I posted on this blog.

I don’t know why I stopped writing. True, I’ve been busy with other things (and living without Wi-Fi wasn’t ideal), but I feel like I’ve been avoiding it because, well, whilst it can’t be denied I’m living my absolute best life in the big smoke now, there are still times when I sit and stare at walls and wonder what on earth I am doing.

I set up this blog almost three years ago as an attempt to distract myself from my usual Sunday hangover, and (although it pains me to admit it) as an effort to feel less alone. I’m not sure if the internet is the best place to avoid loneliness, but at the time it felt like a useful tool, and it definitely helped to counteract the sadness and rationalise what I was feeling.

Of course, I know I am not actually alone. I could call up any member of my family, or some of my close friends, and they’d obviously try to help me out. I’m just really bad at asking for help, and even worse at admitting that I’m not actually alright. That’s probably why I sporadically return to this blog now, because I’m getting better at distinguishing between genuine loneliness, and a minor lonely blip.

So, if anyone else out there occasionally stares at walls and feels weird, this one’s for you.

SUNDAY #84 – Moving Out

LIFE UPDATE: I’M MOVING OUT!

This (overgrown) bird is finally flying the nest.

I originally attempted the flight in 2008 when I moved away (30 miles down the road) to University, but for various reasons, that went totally wrong and I ran home to my parents.

Eight years later, with an O.U degree and a full-time job under my belt, I’m cautiously stretching my wings again and preparing to move to London with my friend Kelly in two weeks time.

When people ask me where I’m from, I release a dramatic sigh and tell them “I’m from Essex” in a voice thick with disappointment and apology. I rarely tell them I quite like being from Essex, and that living in this county hasn’t held me back – I’ve just held myself back because I’ve been scared to leave it.

80% of my family live here. The Pink Toothbrush has been nurturing my music taste since I was 19. Most of my school friends still have roots here. Hanningfield Reservoir has been the backdrop to my childhood. Leaving Essex means leaving all of this behind.

There’s a Magnolia tree on the route in to the town that I’ve been walking past since I was old enough to put one foot in front of the other. My Mum used to let me collect the fallen petals from the ground after school, and I cherished the pink & white treasure. I stared at the tree last Friday night, and lost myself in this sentimental memory. Is there a Magnolia tree in London that’s going to provide the same comfort and reassurance as this one?

Short answer: Fuck knows.

I’m sure I can get sentimental about a new tree when I’m not busy dancing around the flat with Kelly on the weekends, and getting an extra 10 hours of sleep during the working week.

It’s not like I’ll never come back to Essex. There’s always a weekend rail replacement bus I can ride home, and The Pink Toothbrush is still the only place I’ll ever venture to on Halloween. But I don’t fit here anymore, and I want to see if I can fit somewhere up in the big smoke instead.

Fingers crossed I can ‘ack it.