Tag Archives: mental health

sip as you play along

beer: Bridge Road Brewers (Beechworth, VIC) ‘Magical Christmas Unicorn’ vanilla ice cream ale (330mL, 7% ABV)

zine: Widget: women in development, games + everything tech! by various contributors

I promised myself this year that I’d get better at self-promotion and to be honest, I’m doing a lot of cool shit, and I’m still struggling a lot with this. My mood disorder doesn’t help with this.

I submitted a proposal to be a speaker at this year’s Freeplay Festival, and as thrilled as I am to be taking part, there is a small voice at the back of everything in my head telling me that it’s a fluke, I’m not worth it, people won’t be interested etc. which is ridiculous because the organisers of the festival certainly wouldn’t feel that way – they’ve chosen the participants for a reason.

It could also be tied up in the fact that I’m not a professional in the games industry – never have been, never will be (unless I get a full-time job writing game narratives or game crit/reviews and such) – my chosen craft is writing, one I’m only starting to feel comfortable in.

I imagine impostor syndrome and its related iterations is one of the reasons zines like Widget exist: on the cover is a (white) woman with a rockabilly-50s-style scarf, holding up what looks like a Nintendo 64 control (what do Playstation controls look like? it’s definitely not an XBox one). The first few pages already – and rightfully – claim trans-inclusivity and the importance of women-only spaces…but so far, there’s nothing about women of colour. I don’t think this is deliberate, but ouch.

That’s pretty much been my life the last fortnight – wincing and second-guessing whether I’ve been oversensitive about the racial identity issues. But! there are the also those moments where meeting up with a mate who gets it at your fave nerd hangout and smashing dumplings next door then venturing to another craft beer hangout to make up intricate backstories for poop on the run emblazoning Omnipollo beer bottles! Chix-‘n’-beer is totally a thing!

Having lamented the lack of persons-of-colour direct rep in Widget, there’s some ace basic, super-useful info about looking after oneself, with or without a mood disorder – some super-compassionate stuff!

Of course it now makes sense why I chose a beer with ‘unicorn’ in the name, which incidentally is mentioned (just the unicorn bit, not the beer! though its consumption is generally perceived as masculine earlier in the zine). At first, there’s no vanilla creaminess at all…am starting to wonder if my seared salmon sushi bowl lunch thing has warped my palate. As the beer warms, it does get those teasing hints of vanilla! I remember when this was out in kegs and I chased a few beer places to try and snaffle a pint, but it was not to be – unicorns of any form don’t linger around long! I even drank it out of a schooner glass, rather than straight out of the bottle. I was briefly seeing a dudebro-in-disguise who tried to buy bottles of this particular beer for me, but they got smashed up in transit. It didn’t occur to him that I might have better supply network intel.

Thankfully, this female-identifying beer nerd is single and in possession of her/their own unicorns – yes, plural. I feel a bit weird drinking a not-dark beer when the nights are getting delightfully chilly, but it’s been a great, subtle dessertish beer.

Oh! Self-promo! If you’re in Melbourne, come on down to Freeplay! I’ll be chatting with Rory Green (like srsly they matched me with another poet who is writing poems to the first 151 glories on the Pokedex! and they’ve got a poem in Rabbit’s ‘Queer’ issue! it’s like I have a Sydney twin?!). We’re going to talk about our creative practice and the role playing games can have on one’s mental health and creativity generally. Teaser: it’s a win-win sitch!

I’ll also be leading a zine workshop a few days before the conference bit of the festival, and will be using boardgames and gamebooks for some inspiration as we get zine-making. I’m stoked because straight after, I get to go to Louis’ workshop on ‘bespoke’ controllers, then head to the Rabbit ‘Queer’ issue launch as part of the inaugural Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival.

 

***in case you need the reminder, my definition of ‘woman/women’ includes female-identifying humans of all types, colours, creeds. So should yours! <3

 

life-life balance

It could be PMDD symptoms, or that I haven’t made time to see my psychiatrist in two months, but lately it’s been harder to leave the day’s work behind and properly relax. I’m struggling to finish reading novels (which isn’t usually something that happens?!), and been writing a lot more, and depression symptoms have been more just stop, sit, and NAP, or anxiety symptoms mean it’s harder to fall asleep, and harder to get up because once I’m out of bed, my brain won’t switch off. The nap, thankfully, helped loads.

It’s difficult to reinforce boundaries around being too busy because I haven’t been this functional in nearly two decades. I’ve stayed up late for a bit – on purpose…brew a big mug of tea, read a zine (that doesn’t have pieces of mine!) for sheer enjoyment, but keep making excuses. So while my ‘heart’ is asking why the hell am I so exhausted, what my head is actually saying is the reasons:

  • I submitted a suite of three poems inspired by indie computer games as part of a ‘Women Writers of Colour’ commission on the theme ‘collaboration’ which should appear in the Writers’ Victoria membership mag next month…? Am thinking of working on a few more and compiling them into a separate zine at the end of this year
  • becoming a Women’s Melbourne Network committee member hasn’t felt like work, and in forgetting this, I also neglect that commuting takes up a lot of energy! duh me! Also, Janet Mock knows our bookclub meeting took place and thrilled does not begin to describe <3
  • I pitched and submitted work to a few publications that last year would have been too terrifying to even contemplate reading (no, really, just read that last sentence. Yes, I’m not-normiesplaining)…I feel like no one talks about these sorts of things when you’re reemerging back into life (or emerging into life for the first time with arms wide open)
  • am gathering reading material for some more formal reading/casual teaching arrangements, and can’t find my sodding most recent passport (my older ones are pretty funny!) which is a nightmare for trying to get current police checks (for the record, I’m British and have indefinite permanent residency in Australia)
  • have completed a fifth of a planned chapbook of poems on the private psychiatric ward patient experience (it’ll mainly be funny, honest, or rather, I hope)
  • I’m a reader for an online mag called Syntax and Salt, and their next issue is devoted to poetry so I’m excited because so far, I’ve been reading short fiction!
  • am signed on as a producer for my friend Creatrix Tiara‘s queer-lady-magician extravaganza of a show! It’s going to be on as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 😀

Okay, now I get why I took an extended siesta and missed out on a joint beer collab launch at one of my fave drinking holes (Bar SK, case you’re wondering)! Crying.

Let’s get down to business.

zine: ‘Hook Up’ volume 1 by Anthony Nocera

There’s a few snippets from (gay) hook-up apps, and then narrative from the writer about his interactions and memories of meet-ups. No holds barred, etc. but quite funny and oddly touching – no pun intended! I mean touching in that way sexual contact can make people be intimate towards one another for a short amount of time before they float off into their lives. There’s also a bit from/about Helen Razer on the whole marriage equality sitch. I wish I could remember when I bought this…it was definitely before the above was even on the table in parliament…or was it? The narrator also explains that he/they told the people he/they were hooking up with that he/they were most likely going to be writing about the interactions/meet-ups! It’s got interesting cut-up collage illustrations throughout, and it’s a bright blue, neon pink that makes me think it’s done on a risograph press? It’s also restricted to persons aged 18+.

beverage: Bright Chocolate (choc factory in Bright, Victoria) cacao tea

Nearly a year ago, I froze my arse off in the name of research for Froth, and went home with some sweet goodies from the Bright chocolate factory, which also had this ‘tea’ from the disposed cacao husks. I’m probably not selling it, but it’s divine, and really smooth the same way good chocolate is!

music: ‘Dead Start Program’ by John Tejada

I still buy CDs, and I really want this one. It turns out that I’m still a minimal techno tragic. It has a lot of what I liked about an earlier album of his, ‘Logic Memory Center’, and yes, it does hurt to have to use American English spelling (joke…but I do misspell type them in first go!). I find minimal techno’s repetition comforting and puts me in a frame of mind to better concentrate.

I do feel a lot better and more rested now. My cat having settled nearby on my bed, pretending to sleep but glancing over every so often also helps.

screaming white into the void

This post does discuss mental health/illness in detail that folks may find distressing (regarding self-injury in particular), and reader discretion is advised.

Despite the nihilist-sounding post title, it’s been a good, though exhausting week. I managed to visit Preston Market when it was…not quite fast-and-furious-bargains-shouted-from-all-corners, but may as well have been. I went to get myself a chicken quesadilla (one of my fave ‘treat’ lunches) after picking up PO box mail but had forgotten my key (theatrical groan!), and also had to get to Brunswick to review Bent Bollywood on a very nearly empty petrol tank…

I thought I’d have more time to generally read and write, and have found myself not making regular appointments with my psychiatrist – this is not good. I’m doing pretty well lately (it’s officially over a year now since last ECT sesh, squee!) and that has meant more energy for work-related activities, but emotional labour (yeah yeah, go on, laugh about how wanky it sounds till you realise you’re the one being drained by it) is taking up more of my time than it should…some of my anxieties have even made it into my dreams (again, not a good sign).

Anyway, it was fab to see my friend Maria and have an epic cackle session about modern romance and its…’challenges’, and you’ll soon be able to read my review on BB for Peril. Liminal sent me a copy of their zine because I couldn’t make it to their do, and it’s gorgeous! That PO box key was worth the extra trek!

Oh! Absolutely decimated the aubergine/courgette / eggplant/zucchini stash from my dad’s garden…

Almost nearly forgot to wish my eldest nephew a happy birthday, but thankfully his new bike and hanging out with his mates mean that he’s not thinking too much of his daggy aunt (it’s true, I can’t deny it)! Happy birthday Leon, me and Fance love you!

***

Last year, I went to a zine thing and spent all my spare change (nice one noob!). One of the zines I went home with was called ‘white whine’ by illustrator Sarah Catherine Firth. As the name suggests, a bunch of very first-world whines from first-world women are drawn and coloured in. Given my booze consumption yesterday (went to a beer tasting at Bar SK, then drank a Korean beverage that reminded me of dry sake afterwards at a dumpling-smashing dinner), I decided to stick to brewing up pints of white tea, with elderflower and apricot. I guess if the British are going to do white tea, they have to Englishfy it somehow. The dried apricot pieces are also quite yummy. Such a classy tea-totaller!

Seriously, one of my fave deadline-smashing/writing hardcore things to do is brew mugs of tea, or brew white or green tea weaker than its suggested strength, then let cool down, and add more cold water. Not bad for a $4 organic Brit tea – you stretch out that four buckaroonies! Freelancers/creatives, I see you nodding.

It’s hard to pick a fave panel from the zine, but I’d have to go with the lady saying “My brie is too hard.” because when you’re craving soft cheese and waiting for it to reach that magical temperature, it does feel like forever! Readers of this blog may recall I looooooove cheese, too. Seriously, I chose voluntary electroconvulsive therapy over lithium and refused to take any of the tricyclic antidepressants based on their anti-cheese thang. My life was depressing enough with cheese, how much worse would it be after?! That was a horror I did NOT want to contemplate.

In case you were wondering that my opinion was biased, it turns out that Sarah has been nominated for the Good Stuff people’s choice award over at Frankie, if you want to check out more of Sarah’s work and vote etc., then click on here.

I’ve had a couple of litmag triumphs too – Concrete Queers continue to like the poetry I lovingly fling at them, and accepted a poem of mine called ‘stationary objects’. I’ve been submitting regularly to CQ, and they’ve helped me develop a habit where I write from an emotionally and mentally healthy space, and can edit and rewrite and it doesn’t have to mean my health deteriorating (though please do note that when the poem does appear in their ‘milestones’ issue, it does discuss self-injury – a practice I can honestly say is now in the distant past).

A particular right-wing smegma stain was extremely mean to one of the CQ founders, grrrrr, probably because they won People’s Choice at Vic Premier’s Literary Awards for 2018 – how awesome is that?! Ida was one of the few books I saved for fun reading before bedtime last year, and I remember once finished that it could’ve kept going! Young adult lit is kicking mega-arse these days, and you can still read it as an older adult! No, really – do.

The second triumph is that Rabbit Poetry Journal accepted a poem that genuinely began as a joke-romantic conversation to former lover – it’s now called ‘Coimetrophilia’ and it will appear in the Queer issue 25. Chuffed doesn’t begin to cover how I feel! I hugged my cat/coworker a LOT. A lot of its acceptance is thanks to the Quippings crew who again helped me develop more confidence about being a performer and a writer.

I recently read and discussed Rabbit’s ‘Indigenous’ issue here, for last week’s post. It’s been great to read older issues of litmags lately. When I was really unwell, the sheer amount of talent of the people getting published used to make me feel guilty for not trying harder to write more, submit more, and not be producing better work. I know – it’s not a useful mindset…but depression and anxiety don’t listen to reason? It’s been great that this they have been listening more to me when I say, “no, hang on, it’s bedtime now” or “hey, if you’re feeling crap, drinking booze is not going to help – go cuddle Fance or something.” It’s also been ace that those strategies have been working too.