being a geek=being yourself

I watched a interview recently with fellow Geek Wil Wheaton today where he talked about the great film Stand by me  and I felt a strong sense of emotion. In the first few minutes he said such a simply profound thing of that if your a geek chances are your a very insecure person. To be totally frank, it affected me because he is absolutely right. And I wanted to say why here for whatever reason and find other ways to bore you I haven’t previously explored.

Well firstly, it pretty much underlines that I am insecure, and I do not pretend otherwise. But What I think is key in saying that is that I am very much insecure because I am aware of the mortality that I face as a human being. I think that conveys what geeks are like, because of their curiousity and intrigue, you know the bad facts in life as well as the good ones. To give you an example of what I’ve done today other than work, watched family guy episodes including the star wars triology, read three books Nerdist way and long way down and a book on titanic, watched two Neil Degrass Tyson lectures on physics, listened to two albums and two episodes of the nerdist podcast, watched two episodes of bill Maher’s including one comedy special and played two hours of dragon age RPG as well as played two video games and played guitar. My brain still does not feel nourished.  The feeling to me is that it never will, because geeks always want to learn.

And that in a nutshell l is really why we are all geeks. We even in a basic sense learn something everyday, are interested in something beyond someone you knows understanding and whether we like it or not, we re in some way or another insecure about something. The difference is Geek’s admit it because the truth is far more important and bearable that living a lie.

Its one of the few things that keeps me going, learning and being curious, and just like me being a geek, that will never change…….I’m proud of that.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

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Drew Gotobed on the podcast

Episode 33 of the Geek Apocalypse podcast is now available at http://www.geekapocalypse.com/shows! This week Steven is joined by fellow Newcastle gamer Drew Gotobed! We talk D&D, boards games like Lords of Waterdeep and Zombiecide, how we became members of Newcastle gamers and a healthy debate on video games versus board games. We also talk Drews current projects including his zombie photography and his current jobs as photographer and social media guru! Really fun podcast expect more of Drew on Geek Apocalypse related stuff!!

The next podcast is with UK wrestler Adam Lumley!

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Those who do not weep, do not see.

I find the world fascinating, so much so that if you left me without the pressures of modern society and left me the opportunity to observe the world and travel to the corners of the earth, then I feel like I may eventually hit the dreaded word we crave called content..

I’ve been having so many emotions hit me in the last week, some personal stuff I’ve had to deal with that makes me wonder a lot of things. Should I be as open as I am, should I be as open minded as I feel and should I strive to seek the truth no matter what the truth may be. Everything I ever do is honest, anyone that looks at Geek Apocalypse whether its the podcast or this blog or knows me well enough, I hope that they would say that no matter what mistakes I make that at least I make them. I really try to do the right thing, and through various things like not being intelligent enough about whatever it is or not understanding certain things, I try to the best of my ability to think of others just like I would like to be treated.

I’d like to think that I have the right amount of confidence, I know through quite a long bout of suffering that I believe the things I believe and I know who I am. Yet when I feel like I am being taking advantage of like recently I wonder if being as open or as honest as I am is worth it. Being open leaves you totally vulnerable to that happening and can leave you feeling embarrassed and the most destructive feeling for me: disappointed.

so if I tell you what I did today is cried and wished I wasn’t open at all, I would be telling you that sometimes it does not go the way you wanted to. Also it leads to the interesting question, is it good to cry? It always amuses me that people say crying is showing that your soft. I always find myself going ‘Steven stop crying’ when i start, as if its for some reason not allowed to be sad about something or to be moved by a piece of art. Whenever I think I’m disgracing the male gender by crying I always think of the brilliant dickens quote:

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” 

So I question today whether being open and honest is the best thing to be. Then I go see my friends, we laugh, we joke, we be as open and as honest as you like and I realise, the best relationships and friendships need that in order to flourish and succeed. You cant get the bad without the good, and without being open, you cant get the best, which is all I want.

I shouldnt apologise for being open and I ask you to join me, whatever the conversation takes us.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 
― Dr. Seuss

Socal media/texting gives us too much of an easy choice

Its funny if you look back at the inventions of what made things we use today great in regards to the internet. They always end up not being as good in my opinion as they once were. Or they lose their original purpose and become a kind of mesh of random not as good as if you looked elsewhere type thing.

Look at Facebook for example. What was once invented for Harvard students to share photos and comment online has become a messenger,advertising,company driven, celebrity taking, gaming network that all not as good if you went looking for one of them features individually. The key reason it works to me in popularity is that it gives the impression that you have everything you could need: browse what your friends are up to and share photos easily and talk to anyone that is on your friends list. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Problem is that its a bit like reality TV, trying to imply something happening when nothing is.The thing is the more that people I know combined with the bigger that Facebook gets the more I think its becoming incredibly destructive for a number of reasons. It makes things far too easy because you most likely already know what they have been up to because of their posts on their Facebook profile. recently family members brought some holiday photos round and members of my family said, ‘don’t need to see it cos I seen them on Facebook’ and I thought ‘we are losing the ability to personally and privately share and be grateful of people making an effort’. They went out of their way to print photos to show us and we threw it back in their face and the thing is, this is the way you know someone cares and how you actually connect with people  on a personal level. That connection is lost fleetingly and not seriously because its a small post in the large amount of posts you see on an average day.

As I said earlier, You know already most likely what the person has been doing by the post or photos they do, so when you next see them as they discuss what it was they were doing  your most likely to say ‘oh yeah I seen it on face book’. We are losing essentially small talk, but the  thing is, some people who I hold dear are deciding not to share things not because they don’t want to but because they think everyone they know has seen it already and don’t want to repeat themselves. That worries me in regards to having meaningful relationships and friendships that it makes it hard to actually regularly connect with people in a natural spontaneous way. Look at how people end up liking each other, usually its something you are never expecting and want to explore. It’s abit like a dating profile, you already know what you don’t like about someone or don’t before you have even met them. Yet, anyone who I’ve seen who are with someone know chances are they will be something that will annoy you, it implies and encourages a perfection that just isn’t realistic in finding.  because by our very definition we are human beings that makes mistakes and it just is not truthful.

The other thing that really disturbs me is texting, because again it was meant to be used as a quick way of communication and yet people try and talk to me about serious stuff when it literally doesn’t fit the technology. I say to everyone all the time, the problem with texting and any written communication is that it is your interpretation in reading it, which can easily not be the way that the persons means in what they are saying. At least in a phone call you can hear the way they are saying things and make a more informed decision. It should only be an option though if you can not go round and see them directly. If you really respect and like someone, they deserve to be told to their face, regardless of what it is that you are telling them.

Also, being a liberal in that people should say what they want, it still shocks me that people use facebook or social media as a way to personally attack someone. IF they are important to you and have upset you, tell them and deal with it properly, and if they aren’t worth bothering about, then why spend time telling everyone else you kinda know or not know what you think about it. It doesn’t make sense, but people in an open society feel the need to declare themselves, yet how they do it is self defeating.

The thing that really concerns me, is that we are building a generation of cowards, that would rather do the easy way than the right way. If your doing that every day then its going to seep into other parts of your life, and that’s not the right way to grow. the truth is what’s important and we need to get back to that. Would you rather be known as brave and honest, or a coward and a liar?

Always use things in moderation, and I hope we don’t lose the beauty of getting to know someone.

Confidence and Paranoia-Depression lies

I’ve had this in my drafts folder of my blog for an awfully long time, but I’ve been touched by a recent friend of mine that is going through a lot that I feel this is the time to share this.I don’t share this to put the emphasise on me or to expect sympathy or pity in this regard, I share this because a friend in need thinks they are alone and thinks there is no hope, so I hope by me sharing my experiences and putting my struggles out there encourages people who feel the same way to seek help or find a way to talk to someone about it. Because believe me when I say that this is hard and difficult to say, but If it ultimately helps someone then It is worth doing and I hope that it does with someone. And trust me when I say I should of said this way earlier than now because sharing ultimately is for the better, no mater how hard the subject is.

Its worth pointing out that I am not a doctor, I am just speaking from my own experiences and trying my best to describe the feelings that I experienced at the time that I felt them. Because the most difficult line that everyone has difficulty saying or hearing is….I am depressed. I am a depressed person. Because the first reaction usually is that if your the depressed person, you think your life is over, or you don’t know what it really means or even worse you are not even aware you have it.  Also, what do you do if your the one being told by the depressed person? you’ll most likely feel helpless to help, and sometimes don’t know how to help someone in that condition because you too don’t feel capable.

To me that is a crucial and important point. I am often hearing people say ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I do not feel capable’ and it makes me concerned that the solution to certain people with depression is ‘it will pass’ or ‘lets do nothing about it’ which is not a solution at all -to anything never mind depression. If you are a depressed person you can do something about it but it is having the knowledge to help yourself in the right way and the best way. For Example, if your want time to yourself when your sad, that is perfectly normal, but if all you are doing is spending time alone,feeling lost, insecure and unsociable for a longer period of time there is most likely something more going on than anyone is aware of. If you are aware of that, you need to know that you need to make the brave step of telling someone, and most likely getting help by visiting your doctor. Because you are worth something, you are interesting and worth getting to know, you are being told by your poorly brain lies and it needs help getting better. Unfortunately, as I will explain in my experience, a persons first instinct when depressed is to hide, because they are ashamed and embarrassed of what people will think of them. Hopefully anyone reading this that does think they know someone depressed recognises this and tries to help them, because you can help a depressed person, by simply letting them know that you are there as they will need you at some point. The key is it is not their fault and they will get better with help as you will now read through my experience.

All I can say with complete confidence is that I am a depressed person. It was only when I started getting therapy sessions that I realised how depressed I am, and will be for the rest of my life. My first recollection during these sessions was going back to seeing myself growing up feeling utter rage and energy that was very difficult to handle. It would start in my gut and build and build and build until I tried anything that I could to let it loose and try and get under control without anyone noticing. What I was also aware of is how fast my mind works or how slow the world around me felt and feels still to this day. Everything around me just seemed so unbelievably slow and whenever I would listen I’d be around 5 thoughts ahead of my own thoughts. To give an example, Id say ‘how are you?’ Then id be thinking ‘I’m good, well not really but best be polite, wow they look nice, better than me, oh god I hate this, I want this to end they hate me’ by the time they said ‘I’m good thanks’. And I was finding it completely unbearable to control. And I would say this was from around 8 years old, with the odd memory before that feeling the same way.

One of the worst times I ever felt this way was the time I finally got diagnosed with my condition. I was getting angrier and more irritable, and my brain kept telling me that life is just a total disappointment. I got some sort of release by writing songs, I have written something like 3000 songs since I was about 14 and I put about 200 of them on my wall as each individual incident and memory to look at. But that stopped working after a while, because as it gets worse and worse you cant find the words to say what your suffering any more. And to be totally honest, I stopped hanging out with my entire social circle because of that. It wasn’t because they didn’t care, I just took myself out of every possibility that someone would find out about my horrible secret. The hardest bit to talk about is that I spent every single day and every single second wanting to die. I cant say it any other way to make it any clearer or as poignant. I had a plan that I thought out every Inch and detail on how I would do it. Nothing was interesting, I stopped looking after myself more than usual and I stopped being productive. I just did not think that anyone would understand what I was going through and It was never I can honestly say a cry for help. Because I hadn’t told anyone. The first help I got was a total accident. I sat in a history lesson ( I remember every detail) and I resented everything that moved. And something that had never happened throughout my struggles was that I cried. Uncontrollably. I asked to be excused and never went back. Was is hard to admit but true is that I really did this next bit because I was so embarrassed that I went to my form tutor upstairs to tell her something, anything to get out of school. To her credit, She knew that I was trying desperately to not reveal anything and just exploded with fear and crying my eyes out that she took me straight to get an emergency appointment. Now what I am ashamed to say is that I even considered not going in to the appointment. But I still treated it half heartedly cos I kept thinking ‘doesn’t matter because I can go home and will myself to take my own life’. As difficult as it is to say it is the truth. The GP gave me some medication and I got some sort of release for a limited time. But I was getting very little support and very little help because I wasn’t telling people the truth or giving people the opportunity to help me. But as the title of this blog says, depression lies , tells you things that does not speak the truth but its all you ever hear and it wont let you have a seconds rest telling you your shit, worthless, and no one cares and you shouldnt try with anyone or anything anymore. But its not the truth, and you can beat it. The hard part is admitting that you need help. The rest will come I promise you.

My second confession is my worst episode in my life. I started getting worse, What people don’t know is that I got special consideration to go to university because my work was suffering. The last thing I wanted to was to pick up a pen other than writing that dreaded word ‘depressing’ songs over and over again. The same thing happened at university at first year, in that my work and life suffered and I started drinking and smoking. I was trying so hard to stop thinking the way I felt, lonely, tired, bored, uninterested and uninteresting to others. I was trying to find a way to not live. Luckily I had a bunch of friends who saw this when I got heavy handed with drink, rage and strange behavior and had a full blown manic episode. I was crying in my kitchen and scared to look at anything and to be brutal I was beginning to self harm. They called the police and the ambulance without my knowledge and I walked out, they wrestled me to the ground and took me straight to hospital. I honestly don’t remember what I thought other than I felt betrayed by my friends (horrible to think I know) but I definitely felt like I had an outer body experience which was later one of a series of manic episodes I had had throughout my life. Its worth noting that these friends don’t speak to me anymore, I wasn’t a nice person throughout this, and I can understand them for choosing that path of not forgiving me,but the fact remains, without their intervention I wouldn’t be here telling my story. What I will say Is its really hard to be grateful and put things in perspective because I was not all there. I refuse to use that as an excuse, its simply the truth that I do not remember a great deal of what I was doing and I felt totally out of control and I apologised after I recovered, thats the least I can do.

The strangest feeling about the whole thing was I remember not caring even when I was escorted into the hospital which I found to be a psychiatric ward and I sat in a room that resembled an interrogation room from a CSI type show. I waited what seemed like days and two guys with white coats came and I found myself saying everything, honestly and as accurately as I could. And the first thing they said was it was amazing how much I recognised what I was going through, which confused me and my response I think gave them all the data that they needed,-‘but I’ve been struggling with this for years’. As they left, the most important moment happened. I looked around my surroundings and I pretended to be in a cop show, which sounds dumb, but what was so crucial was I laughed, and I really meant it. I’d got my sense of humour back and honestly, something as simple as that lasted me the recovery period, I somehow knew the war was beginning to end. I was immediately put with the crisis team who basically look after you for the first amount of weeks essentially they are suicide watch and I began seeing a doctor everyday to be treated. He put me on such strong medication that It knocked me out at night and then they went about getting a therapist to see me who is my therapist to this day. During these sessions and through specialist doctors they diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder, and it was like the puzzle of my life had finally been solved. I wasnt weird, I have an overactive brain, im poorly and I need help. I will need help forever, but I learnt to accept it.

So what now? I currently don’t take any medication and Im pleased to say I have better days than I do bad days, my bad days usually come In clusters where for about a week I really struggle to be motivated to do anything. But I do have extremes of moods that really are difficult to manage, but It really is a case for me now to say I know what this is and try to manage each episode as it comes. Anyone thats seen stephen fry’s documentary will know that I do get the other side, massive europhia moments where I am literally on cloud nine. Unfortunately they come so sparingly that its hard to wait for. But just like in the documentary, I too wouldn’t press the button to stop being bipolar if I had the choice. Because the high moments are moments you wish you could give anyone, and are better than any drug.

I believe in telling the truth, cos lies just like what depression tells us does not help anyone, so truthfully I struggle and its a battle I may not win and that’s something I know since I first got told. A high percentage of bipolar sufferers unfortunately do commit suicide and I hope that I do not take that road. But truthfully, as of today like most days, I thought about how convenient it would be if a car accidentally hit me. Death would be fine. Luckily I feel better just in writing about this, writing for me is a therapy no question and in most cases can calm me down a notch. The reason I say that is I am here, I am beating the statistics, so if you have any form of mental health, you can beat it with the right help.

But there is help out there, practical help. I know if I need to go to my therapist I will go there and I will talk to her about things. Or if I need medication I will consider going back on them, I realise sometimes I need that help to get there and I have no issues going on them if it all gets too much. They saved my life more than once so I know it will help. The thing that I wish would help with depression, is that there is such a stigma and lack of understanding involved, and all the proof that I need to show is this lack of knowledge nearly killed me, cos I had no idea what I was going through. The problem is in a general sense that far too many people misunderstand what depression is. Maybe they should change the name of it because it is often associated with the natural process of feeling down. But if you have lost your job, accidentally set your house on fire, are annoyed at your partner for a legit reason, then you naturally will feel down and upset. Depression is when it is unnatural, when you have the perfect relationship and just got a pay rise and still feel like jumping off the nearest bridge. Obviously the spectrum is fairly wide, but unfortunately, it is far easier and cheaper to give people medication then do therapy and get to the root of the problem. Like I said at the beginning I am not a doctor, and its really difficult to diagnose, but if we all know more, by having being more informed we can make a better judgement surely?

Its a bit like seeing someone with a broken leg, if they are struggling, if your a good person you’d hold a door open for them. just because depression or mental health is internal, just because its our brain that’s broken, why should it be any different?

And as I said earlier, if you think someone is in danger, or feels anything like I have said, please do something about it, they will thank you for it if they are one of the lucky ones that get better. I hear far too many people say to others ‘you will never understand’ and that worries me, because I’m one that does know a bit about it, and I hope even in small way, I’ve helped by reaching out and telling my story, It has really been difficult for me to, but I hope it is worth it and helps someone realise they are not alone and you can cope with your condition. People have said to me this is brave, but this is not brave, being brave is being open and honest to say ‘I need help’. It gets easier from then on in , believe me. I hope you take the leap.

Because I noticed recently, its been 8 years since I got diagnosed this month, and I really am grateful to be here, cos I shouldn’t be.

Depression lies, so lets be honest and tell the truth…because it ultimately is for the better of everyone.

Your friend

Steven Hesse