1. Don’t be a bitch. (This is a general life-rule.)
2. Don’t write for money. You’ll fail. Write because you love writing. You still won’t make any money, but at least you’ll write something decent.
3. Compliment art you like. Prose. Paintings. Poems. Photos. Films. Message the writer/artist/photographer/director. Tweet them. Let people know you love their art. No, we don’t write for recognition, but it is nice to be recognised.
4. Learn to take shit. Shit helps you grow! It’s lovely and nutritious.
6. Don’t be chronological.
5. .lacigolonorhc eb t’noD
7. Research. Research history, research science. Research cultures, research disabilities. If you are writing something outside of who you are, research it.
Lack of research leads to cultural appropriation, it leads to plot holes, it leads to you sounding like an idiot. You don’t want to sound like an idiot. (Plus, you’ll learn some pretty neat stuff, such as: Van Gogh painted ‘Almond Blossoms’ for his new-born nephew.)
8. Submit your work everywhere. Competitions, magazines. I’m including this one to remind myself to do it, because I never do. I’m a hypocrite.
9. Learn to lie reeeaaaaal good. I once pretended I was a green sea turtle from the Pacific Ocean. (Confession: I’m not a green sea turtle from the Pacific Ocean.)
10. Don’t take manifestos like this seriously; there’s no formula to writing. You write how you write. It’s not a science where you follow a certain equation. It’s an art, were you put the eyes in the wrong place, like Picasso.
Other than research. You should always research. Don’t be that person who doesn’t put effort into their craft.
By Isabel Tyldesley
Let’s get right to it. We’re all bored of music videos consisting of the singer(s) staring into the camera and lip-synching. It takes away from the art of the music – and that’s where the brilliant work of Chris Cunningham comes in. Cunningham’s simple yet intricate direction of Björk’s ‘All is Full of Love’ makes the song as beautiful to watch as it is to listen to. I mean – what’s more stunning to watch than young robot love?
The premise of the music video is ostensibly simple: Robot Björk gets off with Robot Björk. It’s RobotBjörk² . It’s juxtaposition at its finest. Robots? Love? It’s something impossible that perfectly captures the ‘self-love’ theme that thrives under Cunningham’s direction.
On my first watch I was… well, confused. Why was I watching robots ignite their spark? On my second watch, I noticed the beauty. These two monochrome robots were learning how to love. The irony of it is dazzling.
You’ll be given love
You have to trust it
But, I began to think – this goes deeper than Björk’s unearthing of self-love. Only one BjörkBot was initiating intimacy. The other BjörkBot merely assented to it, perhaps moved a robotic arm ever-so-slightly now and then – but didn’t love back.
Thus, I’d argue that Cunningham’s work is an allegory for how Björk is learning to love herself but can’t quite return that love.
Your doors are all shut
All is full of love
Additionally, the music video goes against the idea of heteronormativity, unlike the majority of pop videos; both robots have distinctly feminine bodies. Not only is this lesbian representation incredible for inclusivity, it feasibly could be argued it plays on the sexual nature of pop videos, as it draws on the premise that heterosexual men are often attracted to lesbian sex. This idea is indicated furtherly – and crudely – by a shot of a cylindrical object releasing a milky-white substance. I’ll say no more on that.
In all, Chris Cunningham’s sensational direction of Björk’s ‘All is Full of Love’ emphasises what Björk truly is: an artist. Someone who cares about how her creations are presented. The song is beautifully haunting enough on its own, but paired with the music video, it is far from robotic.
By Isabel Tyldesley
Of course, Mental Health is unique to individuals. What helps me may not help you, and vice versa. But, nonetheless, I decided to put together a list of the things that do help me, just in-case you, reading this, are looking for something new to try.
My schedule has been thrown pretty out of whack lately with starting University and a new games Internship, which caused me to become disconnected with the world and thus worsen my anxiety.
So, to ground myself, I narrate what I’m going to do to someone to reassure myself – to reassure my brain – that I know what I’m doing. Even simple things, like what I’m going to make for tea, or what work I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it.
I may not always follow my plan – and that’s completely fine, because it’s a comfort to know what I have coming up when my brain finds it difficult to think.
That’s kind of what I’m doing here; narrating what techniques help me, so I’m aware of how I’m helping myself. Connecting myself, grounding myself.
2. Take a day off.
…And by ‘a day off’, I mean A DAY OFF.
Not just, “Oh! I’m not in School/College/Uni/Work today!” but an actual day of doing nothing. No plans. No forced socialising. No doing work anyway (this one’s at you, Freelancers.) Take a day to yourself, sat in pyjamas, playing Dishonored 2 (cracking game, by the way) to – as I stress in the point above – ground yourself.
Being busy every minute of every day, whether that be with friends or with work, isn’t healthy, and we all need to learn to shut off.
I really struggle with this; you might too. If I’m not working, I feel guilty.
You could have written another poem, by now!
You could have got that research done, by now!
You could have edited that short story, by now!
Ignore that voice in your head. Ignore it like fantasy writers ignore diverse characters (like, seriously guys, c’mon.)
Give your mind a break. Just as our bodies need sleep to function properly, as do our brains – so let your brain rest.
And – it’s okay to say, “No,” to social plans if you’re not up to it. Take a day off.
3. Recognise your triggers.
When your Mental Health takes a dip, make note of it. Note down what’s around you, how you feel, what you’re doing. Look for themes in what may have caused your Mental Health to struggle, star any that may be a trigger to you, then figure out how to combat it like the strong person you are.
Your brain can’t magically figure it out if you don’t help it. I’m lucky enough to know what causes my Mental Illness, because I took time to figure it out, and, again, reconnect with myself so that I could help myself. You can’t help yourself if you don’t know what’s wrong.
I always wish I had another me to talk to, another me to help with my own problems – so that’s what I’m doing here, sat on a train, writing to myself. Talking. Thinking. Reconnecting.
I hope it helps you too.
Comment below what you do to feel better; it may just help someone in need.
The sand-coloured wooden hut offers protection. It’s mauve-cushioned seats welcome you. True, there’s an entire building between me and the torrential rain, but something about the hut comforts me.
A flock of girls also take cover, gathered around one corner of the large olive couch (surely, they could spread out a little rather than sit on each other’s Designer Knees?) and chirp like Seagulls gathered around a juicy piece of gossip.
The sound of high-heeled shoes echoes against the floor.
click click clickclick click clickclickclick click click click
Trees outside wave for help against the wind, green leaves reach out desperate to grab onto something, but they are only ignored by the girl – unprotected by my Hut – that is fighting for survival herself. She struggles with a plastic mac over her head, chestnut hair at a 180-degree angle, and looks at me, jealous of the hut that protects m – oh, dear God, she’s looking at me, pretend you’re a moody artist staring at the rain, oh God.
click click clickclickclick click click click
“I don’t know what’s wrong with her, but maybe, maybe—”
“Is she a creative writer, or something?”
Snippets of conversation swim their way to me amidst the wails of the weather. I don’t know whether the scraps are linked, but I wouldn’t be shocked.
Rain and wind crash against the glass window, like the ocean smacks a cliff, and drowns out the eight-or-so girls, so I turn my attention to my little safety hut.
click click click clickclickclick click click clickclick click click click click
A lamp stands tall at the edge of the hut’s table, his white arm stretched proudly high to defeat the darkness, unaware that he is OFF on the wall. He’s humble, turned to face the wall shyly; he doesn’t want you to thank him, he’s just doing his job.
click click click click click click clickclickclick click click
Rays of light trample the gales and dominate the sky. The flock of girls leave; it’s safe to venture out once more.
To preface this blog post: this is not an attack on you if you do use humour of this variety as a coping mechanism. I’m not saying you’re wrong to do so, but simply that, in my personal experiences, it has had only a negative impact on me. This is, in its entirety, just my own opinion.
If humour helps you, that’s completely okay. I’m glad you found a way to help yourself that works for you.
It all started in High School – a dreadful era in everyone’s life, I know.
A friend of mine had developed depression, and the only way he knew to cope with it was to make endless suicide jokes. But it didn’t end with the ‘haha kill me’ jokes. He and my closest-friend-of-the-time would pretend to hang themselves on the corner of streets.
This made me incredibly uncomfortable, so I told my wholeheartedly-trusted-friend-of-the-time and asked him to stop when around me as it made my own suicidal thoughts worse.
And he made me feel guilty for it.
He guilted me to believe I was an awful person, and that if I said our friend shouldn’t fake-hang himself on street corners to cope with his depression that I was wishing death upon him, because it was exactly that: his coping mechanism.
I didn’t want to be responsible for someone’s death (duh) so… I joined in. I started to disguise my problems with humour.
“I could do with a shot of bleach right now.”
“Give me the sweet, sweet, release of death.”
[Sees dead bird in the street] “Haha, same.”
Hiding behind humour didn’t help me. I just grew to ignore my illness – and mental illness should not be ignored. Not to mention, suicidal jokes became a Trend, with a capital ‘T’. People who, to the best of my knowledge (and some of whom I am still very close to today) didn’t suffer from mental illness began to make these jokes, which is one of the main issues I have with humour as a coping mechanism. It becomes ‘trendy’. It normalises it. It dilutes the severity of the illness.
It’s a similar occurrence with meme culture. Although it could be seen that these memes make us feel less alone (seen below), again, they make it almost popular to be mentally ill.
The last thing we as a society need to do is lessen the brutality of mental illness. Particularly suicidal thoughts.
‘I think it’s helpful, but I think if you rely solely on it then you can start to forget the importance of things in the world as everything just becomes another coping mechanism.’ -Jian Li
When writing this piece, I asked a number of people about their opinion on the matter. One person said:
‘It’s also a form of a cry for help, like it’s easy to see a bottle get run over in the middle of the road when you’re with your mates and say, “Same,” than it is to outright tell them your suicidal.’ – E. C.
This, I understand. It’s terrifying to tell someone how you feel. You don’t want someone to glare uncomfortably at you, so you throw a joke in there to ease the tension and to give yourself control. Nothing can go wrong if you’re laughing, right?
But, in my opinion, this is exactly why ‘humour’ of this variety has a negative impact on us. We have grown so dependent on it that we can’t express our emotions in a constructive way. We can’t tell people how we actually feel because people will be shocked it’s honest, and not a joke. We can’t tell people how we actually feel because people will feel uncomfortable that it’s honest, and not a joke. We can’t tell people how we actually feel, because we’ve taught ourselves not to.
‘I literally end every emotional rants […] with, “Thank you for attending my TED Talk,” because I can’t take my own feelings seriously even in times of crisis.’ – Sahra
But just because I think it’s wrong doesn’t mean I’m going to stop altogether – not so easily anyway. I’m a hypocrite. I have made a conscious effort to cut down the amount of self-deprecating jokes I make about myself, and I have felt better about how I’ve dealt with my mental illness since. I figured out the root causes of my illness’ and have thus been able to figure out how to deal with my problems, how to avoid them, and how to make myself feel better. (Side note: this obviously isn’t a result of making less suicidal jokes, but I recently celebrated a year of being suicidal-thoughts free! Woo!)
I do still make some jokes – of course I do. I’ll never be perfect. There’s no such thing. I just… really like to point out my flaws.
Of course, it’s not black and white. It’s not one way or the other. My opinion isn’t fact, and opinions depend on each person, how they work, and their life experiences. As seen by the Twitter Poll below, I was hugely disagreed with for my view on this topic, and that’s okay!
Feel free to drop your own opinion in the comments. Let’s discuss!
Confession: I found this article particularly difficult to write. What if I offended someone? What if it made people hate me? And I, the filthy hypocrite that I am, proceeded to use humour to make myself feel ‘better’ about it all. And then I had an existential crisis because it only buried my emotions.