When I tell people I have Fibromyalgia a lot of people stare blankly, or go “I’m so sorry” or, “I can’t even imagine” – sometimes it’s a combination of all three. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to understand what it’s like to have something you don’t have. I’m hoping that, after reading this, you’ll empathise somewhat.
This is what it’s really like to have Fibromyalgia.
…It’s reaching to pick something up next to you and pulling a muscle instead.
…It’s constant leg cramp – and continuing to walk despite it.
…And that’s not, “It’s been a long day and I want a nap,” but more like: “It’s been a long 19 years and I never want to wake up.”
…And knowing you’re being judged for it, because people don’t understand how you can complain about pain and still get up and do life anyway. They think you’re lying, but I can promise you: Yes, it hurts to walk. Yes, it hurts to write. Yes, I do it anyway.
…So to all of you I never make plans with – I’m sorry. I love you. Please, be patient.
…If there’s too much happening, whether that’s noise, smell, people, it can make your anxiety go into overdrive
…And then, it’s feeling stupid for being anxious because the TV is on, and someone else is talking on the phone, and your dog is nudging you for a cuddle. (I’m sorry, Molly, you’re super cute and I adore you.)
…Because you have to focus all your energy into work and living.
…As a kid, I wanted to be an athlete.
…By strangers, friends, Doctors.
…I walk around 7km a day despite my legs begging otherwise. Sorry that I don’t run a daily marathon on top of that.
…Oh boy, the many, many years I spent being told I was just “mildly anaemic”.
…Which is a whole issue on its own and deserves a separate post.
…It’s not being able to keep up in a conversation.
…It’s forgetting everyday things.
It often feels you are when suffering from any chronic illness – but you’re not. There’s an entire community of people around you who understand. Reach out to one another. You are never alone.
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.