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From Snickers to Marathon

May 14, 2012 5 comments

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve written a blog post, I’ve been in a funk. I very nearly didn’t write this one, as I debated whether to blow my own trumpet here. I’ve always been careful not to have an ego, almost as though I’ve been raised to think that pride in any achievements should not be celebrated. Strange, as this is absolutely not how I was raised. So you know what? The hell with it! I trained bloody hard to complete a marathon and I raced even harder, so I’m going to document it dammit! Also, during my quest to lose weight etc I’ve read many inspiring blogs along the way (check out @austinslide’s Couch Potato to Ironman, for instance) and if this can provide even a fraction of the inspiration to someone else, then it’s worth it.

As far as the weight loss goes, I’ve written about it elsewhere, but to sum up here: I was 17.5st and smoking twenty L&B a day. Look at this photo, for the love of god. Like a pigeon stuffed into sausage wrapping, and one of two horrific ones that the media CONSTANTLY used.

Image  All the weight I’d worked my ass off to get rid of a few years before had come back in a wave of self-pity, and was threatening to bring friends too unless I changed my lifestyle. I mean, two tubs of Pringles cannot be construed as a meal in anyone’s book for crying out loud. So I figured the best way to both get in shape and help with kicking smoking would be to run. It’s relatively inexpensive, practically anyone can start straight away and the thought of coughing up a lung every time I stumbled ten yards was enough to strengthen my resolve.

Now, anyone who saw me attempt cross country in school would have bet good money on Jesus returning to tap-dance the Olympic torch from Greece to London than say I’d be a runner, especially on those wet and windy days where me and my equally-flab-challenged friend John wallowed like beached whales at the bottom of the notorious hill on school grounds. Particularly out of shape beached whales. So the early days of this foray into running were a hard combo of run/walking at a “leisurely” pace, with much sweating and cursing as more seasoned runners swept by me like smug gazelles. However, I was a realist and knew exactly where I was at so I didn’t let it get me down, I just knew I had to keep at it. Two things helped at this stage. Firstly, the support I’d received at home and on Twitter was incredible. They made me feel like a world champion instead of a puffer who’d taken fifty seven minutes to run less than five miles. Secondly, it’s amazing how quickly the human body can improve, and by how much, with consistent training. I’m a numbers guy, so seeing my distances increase and my pace per mile tumble was very gratifying, and spurred me on more.

I very quickly felt confident enough to enter my first race, a 10k last June (see picture of me to the left looking particularly gleeful at the end). This was a fantastic experience for me. The buzz you get on race day is infectious and addictive, and I knew I only wanted to move forward from here.

A marathon was something that I hadn’t given any serious thought to, seeming like a completely insurmountable distance, but was an objective lingering in the far recesses of my mind. Instead, I continued to pound the road and push the distances until I reached half marathon distance in September. Serious training takes a back seat through winter as conditions worsen, so I just kept things ticking over until after Christmas. By this point, I’d lost about two and a half stone (see next pic) and was feeling pretty fit, so I had a vague notion of a spring marathon. I ummed and ahhed for a while until I realised that unless I actually entered one soon, I’d probably end up not doing it, so I took the plunge and entered the Belfast City Marathon in May.

With that finally set, I could focus completely on training towards it. I was pretty lucky with my training, I only missed the one run throughout the whole thing, due to a damn cold. I won’t bore you with the whole regime, but it was amazing the ride my confidence took on the way, from its lowest ebb after two eighteen milers that were as painful as they were demoralising, to amazing highs including a fifteen miler a month out where I felt I could have gone on forever.

Come race day, I felt as ready as I could be but still not amazingly confident. My mantra was ‘trust in the training’ and if anyone is in a similar position, I’d tell them to do the same. You have put in the miles and you WILL pull it together on the day as long as you don’t do anything too crazy.

Conditions for the race were, well, crappy, but it didn’t dampen the day at all. I had support from Sarah and Ashton, who’d been great during training and with calming me on the day, and I was buzzing to go. Again, I won’t do a mile-by-mile commentary, but it’s a strange thing. I didn’t hit the wall, which I’m sure would have been impossible for me anyway given as I’d eaten ALL the carbs on the weekend before, but I did have low points. Running alongside the shore in 40mph rain and sleet in the middle third was pretty damned trying, let me tell you. They say the race begins at mile twenty, and that last 10k is certainly a bitch. It’s a different kind of pain to training runs, as you almost leave your body in that extra feat of endurance. This leaves you ready to break into any and all emotional possibilities once you cross that line. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I just stopped my Garmin, held it together and grabbed the crisps being handed out, my medal and, most importantly, a hug.

I’d done it. I was a marathoner. No-one could take that away from me. The most important thing from all this though, was the knowledge once I’d finished that, despite being exhausted, I was definitely going to do this again. This was now a lifestyle, not just one thing I do once, get a tattoo of my time just to prove I’m never going to do it again, and stop. This is me, for good.

Before the marathon

26.2 miles later

Categories: Uncategorized

Film Review – Thor

I felt like starting this review with an anguished cry. I wanted to LOVE ‘Thor’, but instead I feel indifferent. As someone still struggling to come to terms with the disappointment of ‘Iron Man 2’, this is much worse than if I’d actively hated it. With indifference comes the frustration of knowing that it could, and should, have been better.

Firstly, let’s very briefly get the premise out of the way for those who aren’t aware. ‘Thor’ is a Marvel comic-book character based on the Norse God of Thunder (complete with powerful hammer Mjolnir) of the same name. In the Marvelverse, Thor and the rest of the ‘gods’ aren’t actually deities, they are other-dimensional beings, but were worshipped as such by the Vikings. The realm they live in, Asgard, is ruled by King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who has brought about an uneasy truce with their enemies the Frost Giants, with whom they had been at war with. Odin is ready to crown his successor, eldest son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) when a break of the truce by the Frost Giants causes Thor to defy his father and storm into their homeworld looking for answers with his close friends the Warriors Three and shady brother Loki (Tom Hiddlestone). This defiance causes Odin to strip Thor of his powers and banish him to Earth, where he must learn some humility.

Right, well that wasn’t as brief as I’d hoped but I continue regardless. There are two overriding faults with Thor, the first is one inherited from Iron Man 2, in that the film is hamstrung by the ever-looming shadow of Joss Whedon’s Avengers film coming out next year. Jon Favreau was hamstrung by it and now Kenneth Branagh has suffered the same fate, as he struggles to throw in all the meta-references and cameos required. I can understand that there is a need for this, but do the films really have to be so laden with it? Whatever happened to subtlety? At least S.H.I.E.L.D are given a little more of a role than in ‘IM2’, although it still doesn’t equate to much. What will happen is we will have reached Avengers saturation point long before the film actually materialises (don’t forget we still have Captain America to come) and the preceding films are weaker for it.

The second main flaw is that as much as Branagh searches for a Shakespearean pathos (and who better?) in the material, it just isn’t there. It has potential, with fraternal and paternal squabbles including gods, but at the end of the day it is still a film based on a comic book about a man thumping skulls with a giant hammer. While watching, I tried to use that as an excuse for the film, but because of the distinct lack of irony in the delivery, it just doesn’t work. One suspects Branagh MAY have pulled it off, but wasn’t given the edit he wanted due to trying to fit in all the Marvel stuff. It’s a shame, as Hemsworth, Hopkins and Hiddlestone try gamely to achieve it.

Of the lesser faults, Natalie Portman could have been replaced with any other actress who can pull off ‘pretty-but-bookish-and-doe-eyed’, and the “romance” between her and Thor is laughably unrealistic; Thor’s lesson in humility on Earth appears to have been learned over one pitcher of beer; Loki’s intentions are back-and-forth, which is interesting to a point, but in a film such as this you eventually need a clear bad guy; the Warriors Three are ridiculously cartoonish and lacking any personality, they are just copies-of-copies of Musketeers.

It’s not all bad news. Asgard is wonderfully realised, the vastness and other-worldliness breathtakingly conveyed. Chris Hemsworth is charismatic enough to prevent being either a cardboard character or ridiculous in the role, and he and Branagh show a deft comic touch with his character resulting in some genuine and intentional laugh out loud moments. Indeed these are almost the best parts of the whole film, brief as they are, but are topped when Thor is in full ‘bringing thunder and pain’ mode. The fight scenes could easily have been overrun with CGI, but that problem is side-stepped with the sheer impressiveness in the style, Thor deploying both up-close-and-personal ugliness and the grand powers of a deity figure. But this brings with it another problem. Once Thor is in this mode, hammer in hand, he is impervious and at no point do you think there is any peril. At least Superman has Kryptonite to be deployed. It’s something that Whedon will have to work hard to overcome in the Avengers film, as not everything works on screen as it does in the comics. How often can Thor lose his hammer before you just start calling him careless?

There is a better film to be found among this, but it’s probably back in the editing suite. Maybe a sequel, after the Avengers film is out of the way, will provide a better platform for Thor and the rest of his Asgardians.

Bin Laden With Guilt

There was a little bit of news early this morning, you may not be aware as hardly anyone is talking about it, but Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Killed during a US operation to finally take him.  This blog post will be one of the most sanctimonious things I ever write because, in the wake of this news, people appear to have lost their minds.

All over the news and the internet, people are falling over themselves to celebrate Bin Laden’s death, with hordes placing themselves outside the White House screaming “USA!  USA!”, toasting to his death and generally partying.  This has left a horrible taste in my mouth, it’s hardly dignified.  This whole situation is a tough one, as you can’t tell people how to feel, especially those so affected by the events of nearly ten years ago.  But one thing they need to understand is this is not justice for those who lost their lives, this is vengeance, pure and simple.  I’m sure people will tell me “People celebrated when Hitler died and I bet you would have too!”.  Yes, I would have, but there’s a tiny difference there.  Hitler’s death effectively signified the end of a WORLD FUCKING WAR.  Bin Laden was not holed up in a bunker, committing suicide as his forces were overrun, and his death signifies nothing.  Al Qaeda are not the Nazis, and killing Bin Laden will not end their campaign.

He was the face of evil for the west, who need such things to focus their hate on, but tactically his death means absolutely squat.  I’ve seen various people on Twitter say “This is what you get when you fuck with America!”.  What is “what you get”?  If he was the lynchpin of Al Qaeda then “what he got” was ten more years of plotting mayhem as the west fumbled in the dark for him.  If he wasn’t, well then celebrating his death is beyond disgusting.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy he is dead.  The world is a better place without him, but I will not be rejoicing and dancing in the street.  Even those who would oppose capital punishment for serial killers have no doubt been telling themselves that Bin Laden is different.  I’m sorry, but he’s not.  Evil is evil and murder is murder.  You cannot condemn one and not the other, unless you are a huge hypocrite.

This is the culmination of the events of the last ten years.  The erosion of a national conscience.  Think of all that has happened since that fateful day ten years ago.  The clusterfuck wars started because Bin Laden could not be found and America (and I’m including the UK in this as well) did not want to appear weak, well instead we looked dumb.  Soldiers’ and civilians’ deaths.  Guantanamo Bay.  Torture and humiliation of prisoners.  Surrendering of civil liberties.  Air force personnel laughing as they lay waste below them.  Jumping at our own shadows.  The mistrust and mistreatment of an entire religion.  The radicalising of youth.  Think of that and ask yourself, ‘Was Bin Laden’s death worth it?’.  Ironically, all this, done in the name of retaliation, was beyond anything Bin Laden could have hoped to achieve when he masterminded 9/11.  He didn’t just take lives that day, he took the west’s soul and today proves it.

You can celebrate all you want, I just don’t think there is much to be joyful about.

Categories: Musings Tags:

Book(s) Review: The Millennium Trilogy

April 4, 2011 2 comments

I should start by saying that yes, I realise this review is probably redundant, as Stieg Larsson’s books have sold more copies than the Guinness Book of the New Testament. But has anyone considered the three people in the world who haven’t read the book? HAVE THEY? No, I didn’t think so.

The reason I wanted to read and review the books is because I’d left it long enough so I could get through all the initial praise, then the inevitable backlash with scorn usually reserved for the next Dan Brown effort (I still maintain that The Da Vinci Code, hogwash though it is, is still a great page-turner). It seems modern fiction can only be successful up to a point before people turn on it. Anyway, I digress. Given the story arc, it’s best reviewing the trilogy in one as well. When I first bought the books I thought they would be three standalone stories, but instead they are laid out like the Matrix movies, one fully-encompassed story and then a two-parter.

Cutting to the chase, did I enjoy the books? Absolutely.  It is intelligent, thrilling writing. It’s by no means perfect (and I’ll come to that later) but the characters are for the most part well-rounded, empathetic individuals which ring true.  I personally found ‘Dragon Tattoo’ to be the best of the three. It’s a self-contained crime thriller which ticks all the boxes and more, while the following two books are more of a character-study.

On those characters, most of the praise lavished upon Larsson is for his writing of Lisbeth Salander, the socially-afflicted, savant, titular character in the series. As a protagonist, she is unique. Part of the joy of reading is that you imagine yourself in the adventures with the heroes. With Salander, you get the feeling that if you met her in real-life she would treat you with contempt and more than likely kick you in the crotch. She is infuriating yet resilient and you warm to her without trying. It’s an amazing feat on Larsson’s part. He is also praised for the fact that he is writing a strong woman, something still beyond a lot of male authors, yet I think he did a better job on that front with his writing of Erika Berger. Sure, there are still elements of ‘what a man wishes a woman was like’ in her, but on the whole she is the most believable. Strong yet fallible, confident yet wracked with self-doubt, I found her to be the most enthralling character.

It’s not all good news there though. His Mikael Blomqvist is sheer wish-fulfilment, and having every woman he meets go instantly weak at the knees is both false and egocentric. I find myself liking Blomqvist, before the next page brings on an “Oh come on!” moment. It’s a shame.

Part of the criticism levelled Larsson’s way is that there is a lot of filler in the books. Yes, there is, and reading page after page on Swedish financial institutions and regulations, or the entire history of it’s intelligence agencies, is trying, but the reason the books have been successful is because they are not like usual crime fiction. Without all the information he provides, the story wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is. Larsson was clearly angry about the way institutions in Sweden are set up and run, so he was determined to absolutely annihilate them in every way. Something he achieves. I haven’t researched into what the fallout in Sweden was after the books were published, but I imagine some very serious questions were asked.

With the “filler” comes problems though. Larsson introduces peripheral figures almost every chapter, gives them backstories and then shoves them into the background again a few chapters later. Trying to remember who is who among the ‘Erikssons’, ‘Martenssons’, ‘Fastes’ etc, along with all of the Swedish place names Larsson insists on including at every given opportunity, is tough. Maybe I’m just an uncultured swine.

The only other criticism I will level at Larsson is over the ending. And this is why I prefer ‘Dragon Tattoo’ to the other two. The ending to the series is an utter disappointment. Whereas ‘Dragon Tattoo’ is highly satisfying, you spend another two lengthy books investing yourself and being built up by the author for a barnstorming finale. It doesn’t come. Resolutions just ‘kind of happen’ and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Of course it’s hard to deliver on a promise such as that Larsson laid out, but it was as though he wanted it to be over with and threw in the towel. Disappointing.

Overall, the series is worth the success it has received and is worth the effort you put in, and you will need to put that effort in. But the characters are unlike anything out there and have to be appreciated, along with the pure cleverness in the writing.

International Foot-in-Mouth Day

March 8, 2011 20 comments

Today is International Women’s Day. A day designed to celebrate the accomplishments of women and raise awareness of inequality where it exists. I dared to challenge on Twitter how people seem to mark the occasion and clearly my first tweet on the subject was too tongue-in-cheek and the point lost. So, I’ll make it as clearly as I can and hope for the best. I absolutely support, applaud and salute International Women’s Day. Gender inequality is very much still rife and apparent in all institutions, despite the progress made. I’ve seen it in action and it disgusts me. That is not what I was disputing. My issue is that a vast amount of people use the occasion counter-productively, perpetrating resentment and division.

If you search the #iwd string on Twitter, it won’t be long before you come across it being used as a stick to beat with. The “heated discussions” I then had unfortunately furthered my point. There is nothing I like more than a healthy debate, and if I’m made to look like an ignorant twat then I’ll stick my white flag up and pray for mercy. What I will not accept is people chastising me for a point I was not making, and painting me as a misogynist. The issue that seemed to crop up more than most is that of ‘unexamined privilege’. This is the single-most counter-productive attitude to have towards equality. Basically, I was told (and you can search my @mentions) that because men predominantly still write the rules, I have received privilege my entire life and that I should take that into account in everything I’ve achieved in my life. So, in an argument about equality, people made assumptions over how and what I have achieved in my life, because society made it that way. It’s inconceivable, apparently, that I may have deserved everything I have received.  If I have got the wrong end of the stick, I gave one person in particular plenty of room to correct me. They chose not to. And if I even think about saying that I have earned my accomplishments, then I am denying I have been privileged, which is akin to denying the holocaust (I hope that’s not Godwin’s Law, just an apt analogy), that I don’t “get it” and that I think any woman trying to argue with me is a feminist.

One example of the unexamined privilege afforded me, which I had highlighted to me a couple of times, is that of employment rights when it comes to maternity. Women DO repeatedly get screwed over when it comes to maternity, no matter what governments try to do to protect them. My argument there was that men are still, by a long way, portrayed and viewed as a lesser parent. But this argument is indicative of the problem. We engage in gender one-upmanship, even if we subscribe to the overall message this day is supposed to convey, which I do, and that could create a bigger divide. Men come out of the argument as oppressors after trying to justify their existence. What good is that in trying to rectify equality??

Rather than maybe slam all the good work the day does in my face, they amplified the original issue I had. This day would be better spent bringing people together in the cause rather than be used as a tool to create divides.


Bloody women*…




*This is a JOKE but probably confirms that I have privilege by the fact I can make it.

Film Review – The Town

February 20, 2011 1 comment

I said I’d eventually start reviewing things on here, so I’ll start with The Town.

Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone was a critical success. Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, Affleck delivered a tense story well-told, bringing top-notch performances from all of his cast. He was singled out as a director to be watched, but much hinged on his second effort. So, for The Town, Affleck has tried to repeat much of what made Gone Baby Gone successful. The Town is another adaptation, this time from Chuck Logan’s novel ‘Prince of Thieves’, and is also based in Affleck’s home town of “Bahston”. This time however, Affleck also steps in front of the camera to take the lead role of Doug MacRay: a hockey washout who, with three friends, has turned to a life of bank robbing.

Has Affleck delivered on the promise and hype which Gone Baby Gone produced? The answer is a resounding yes. Gone Baby Gone had it’s flaws, but the biggest one for me was that it was occasionally hokey. While watching I became very aware that I WAS WATCHING A FILM. Rather than get sucked into the story, I found it to be like watching a documentary on Boston. Thankfully, The Town doesn’t suffer from the same problem. It too has it’s flaws but none so distracting. It’s a much more assured effort from Affleck, his stride has definitely been hit.

The story won’t win any prizes for originality. Man does bad things, man falls in love, man seeks to change his ways and leave despite resistance from those around him. But Affleck directs in a way that makes that well-trodden path seem newly-repaired. It’s a film about human behaviour more than the heists. Why people do what they do; how they fall into the traps they do; why most don’t change. This is brought to the fore with the relationships between MacRay, his friends and his father. All of the supporting characters could have (and some have) fallen into cliché, but because they are fully-drawn and well-written, they are entirely believable. The naturalistic (and heavily-accented) dialogue is key to this. You get the feel of the characters without having to try, it comes across in what they say without having to be full of exposition.

As it is a heist film there are, of course, action set-pieces. Whereas the direction for most of the film is fairly intimate, in close with the characters, when it comes to the showier stuff, Affleck pulls it off with aplomb. The heists themselves are breathtaking affairs, and even though it is now the law to reference Heat when any film has criminals with automatic weapons shooting it out in the street during broad daylight, the comparison only lasts a second before you enjoy it on it’s own merits. No mean feat. He employs a range of angles without losing the coherence of what’s going on, and pulls you right in to the action.

Once again, Affleck gets the best of his cast. From the ever reliable Chris Cooper as MacRay’s banged-up father to Jon Hamm’s G-man, who could have become a lazy FBI suit, the type you see on screen all the time and may as well be made out of cardboard, they all deliver performances with depth. Jeremy Renner has been nominated for an Oscar as MacRay’s best friend, “Jem” Coughlin, the man with strong principles of friendship but a temperamental nature. Since Joe Pesci’s turn in Goodfellas, those roles of the hot-headed friends tend to garner the attention in a film like this, but honestly, although Renner is superb, Affleck is better.

His performace as MacRay carries the film, and it needs to. If you don’t believe in Affleck’s performance then the whole film fails. But he comes across as a leader of men; someone who has regret but isn’t bitter; someone who believably seeks redemption. He could leave it there and have a protagonist you could get behind but, most importantly, he doesn’t forget that MacRay is also an asshole and a vicious bastard. With that in place, it elevates him to someone you don’t want to take your eyes off. It’s as though his stint behind the camera has given him a realisation about what to do in front of it. Affleck is no longer so obviously trying to act and the smugness apparent in almost all of his films has translated into an easy charm. It’s a shame that roles like that tend to be overlooked, as it deserves attention.

There are two main faults with The Town though, one disappointing and one trivially annoying. The first one is the relationship between MacRay and love interest Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). It is rushed and so stretches the realms of realism. I count they have a total of four conversations and and one session in the sack before they are in love and ready to abandon their lives for each other. That relationship isn’t the central one, but it is the catalyst for the plot. As such, it hasn’t been treated with the same care as the others. The trivially annoying fault is a small one. The late, great Pete Postlethwaite, whilst giving a good performance as the utter bastard of the piece, Irish gangster ‘Fergie’, goes on another one of his accent jaunts. Rather than the Welshistani accent delivered in The Usual Suspects, this one hops around all of Ireland and the British Isles. I only mention it because it jars during his scenes.

If those could have been avoided, The Town could have been a modern classic. But it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is still an excellent, excellent film which delivers an oft-visited story in a way that’s fresh and enthralling. Affleck now has to avoid becoming a one-trick pony. He needs to get out of Boston for his next film as director and prove he’s the real deal.

One more thing. Did anyone else notice the nod to Daredevil at the end or was it just a coincidence I’m drawing too much out of?

Categories: Films Tags: , ,

The Great Depression

February 18, 2011 8 comments

Recently I’ve experienced depression for the first time in my life. Not as a sufferer, but living with someone who is. Firstly, I should say that this post has been published with full consent from her, I’d have happily binned it if she didn’t approve. I’ve been reading up on depression and how to cope with someone who is suffering from it (belatedly, after spending a long time in denial) and, at least from the partner’s view (mine) it hasn’t been very helpful. There are a lot of articles out there which seem to offer a list of things you should and shouldn’t do, but it all seems rather trite: “Get them to exercise.” etc. So I thought I would write about my own experience, to maybe help both of us get through this and hopefully help someone else out there in a similar situation. Secondly, I’ll add a couple of disclaimers: 1) You could fit my medical and psychological knowledge into a jam jar that’s already packed with jam, so my viewpoints have no basis in anything other than my own personal experience; 2) Parts of this will come off as self-serving considering it’s my partner that is suffering from depression itself. It is impossible to empathise with a sufferer without having experienced it yourself, so I can only write from my point of view.

Ok, here we go. The articles you will find online will say “it will be hard”. No shit. What they don’t say is that it will be possibly the greatest challenge you both ever have to face, and if you aren’t strong enough to deal with what’s to come then you may as well bail now before you both get dragged down and things get a lot worse.

I would say the best place to start is trying to spot it early. If I’d have known anything at all about depression, I could and would have probably noticed it sooner. After learning about the symptoms now it’s clear they’ve been evident for a while. Because I didn’t, it gradually became worse, and what’s more, I associated her behaviour as something personal. Even though I now know it’s not, it’s still hard to shake it sometimes, which makes this process even harder. If you’re like me and have never experienced it before, it’s too easy to shut the gate after the horse has bolted. With depression becoming more and more common, it might be worth just having a quick glance at an article and having a very quick education. So spot it, and start treatment for it, as early as possible.

Now, the hard stuff. As the one without depression in the relationship, you will have your own special kind of turmoil. I can only assume it’s not half as bad as what they are going through, but it’s no picnic either. You will feel unappreciated and rejected, physically and emotionally. You will be the target of anger and of anxiety. You will have to pick up the slack, be that emotionally or in something like daily tasks. You will be the motivation and the glue. I should say “try to be” because god knows I’ve failed at all of these so far, and it’s only now I’m really adjusting. I have found that repeating a few things to myself, like a mantra, helps a little. Only a little, but that is something: ‘They did not choose this’; ‘they do not want this’; ‘they are not the person you love’; ‘help them get back to that’.

As I said before, if you don’t think you are strong enough to deal with all that then you need to have a serious look at things, otherwise everything will go downhill fast. You will resent them because you take it personally and they will resent you for not being there for them, all that will then happen is irreparable damage to you, your partner and your relationship.

Understanding and patience are the keys. Even if you can’t muster patience, a little tolerance will do. When depression causes arguments, and it inevitably will, there will be an urge to lash out at each other. This is the worst thing you can do. You have to be compassionate without being patronising, remember that depression causes them to see the negative in everything, their feelings of self-worth are non-existent and they don’t see anything like a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, every now and again they might improve and you start to think that it’s over, but it’s only temporary. Appreciate those moments, but appreciate them for what they are and be patient. Even when they start treatment, it takes a long time for it to take effect.

I may paint a pretty bleak picture, but that’s a good thing, as you don’t want to go into this blind, as I did. You need to try and keep it together knowing and experiencing all of this, for both of you, and if you survive it, chances are you’ll both be much, much stronger for it when you do.

I can’t offer any more advice, such as it is, than that as I’m still learning myself. We’re nowhere near anything like good at the minute but I know we’ll get there, together.

Categories: Musings Tags: