Mon 17 – Sun 23 April 2017
Why I can feel my depression returning
Last week was a bit of a downer for me. I felt my depression creeping back and worked hard to keep on top of it. In my usual way (and it’s probably part of my problem), I analysed and tried to work out why I felt down:
- Berlin the previous week was good but it’s got very popular at Easter with gays going from across the world. Lots of young and beautiful people. Indeed it’s a bit like a circuit party. Made me feel a bit old, fat and ugly.
- The weather in Berlin was cold and wet. Last week’s in London has not been much better. Unseasonably cold, I need warmth and sunshine.
- There was a programme on TV I watched with my mum and brother. It was about people with depression trying to find relief through running (with the aim of doing the weekend’s London Marathon). Good programme but hearing them talk about depression was something I could totally empathise with and I think it sort of awakened something dormant inside.
- The general election was called on Tues. My thoughts are summed up in this tweet and who can blame me when you see the front of the Daily Mail and the prophecy of George Orwell:
Feeling deeply depressed by thought of 5 years hard Tory govt. Redeemed by thought I have 7 weeks to try to get something better #GE2017
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) April 21, 2017
What am I doing about it?
There’s one final thing to bear in mind. I have been voluntarily and carefully reducing the amount of anti-depressant I take with a view in the long-term to coming off them because I’m continually told that is a good thing to do. Could this be making me feel down? Is it better to just accept I need them and carry on with my normal dosage? I take my warfarin, HIV and cholesterol meds every day; if I tried to reduce and come off that then I would probably die. So I’ve made a decision to stay on my normal dosage and stop trying to come off the anti-depressants.
I’m on holiday next week so I am going to take some time to think how I can deal with things to keep the depression at bay. I’ve got a cunning strategy to re-focus my life for the next few weeks (see Health and Efficiency below).
If I didn’t have my partner and family then I think it would be so much harder to try to stay in a good place. Key to dealing with and getting through depression is focusing on the things that really matter to you. I’m also trying to focus on my friends. So it was good to have a catch-up with Jamie on Friday.
Tech for Good
Busy, busy, busy as usual at work last week – it never stops.
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award
Continuing to push the new Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award, please disseminate news about it as you so wish and feel free to nominate to it or encourage great projects to nominate themselves.
— Tech4GoodAwards (@Tech4GoodAwards) April 20, 2017
I am working on new tech initiatives including some pilot video workshops. I’ve also been helping to sort the tech support element for our new grants programme HIV in the UK: Think Digital This is live and applications close 19th May. Again please disseminate as you so wish, we want applications. Finally, I sat in on an assessment for an applicant to our Tech Vs Abuse programme and discussed with colleagues other ones they have done.
Meetings with various good tech people
- Sam Applebee of Super Global (a new agency to match private digital agencies with not-for-profits wanting to do tech)
- Chris Martin, CEO of The Mix – the young people’s digital advice charity created by the merger of YouthNet and Get Connected
- Matt Haworth of Reason Digital who really do get tech for good despite being a private digital agency. See their Gone for Good app – it’s great.
- Chris and Anna at Yoti – the digital verification company. They work on the social side such as their recent hackathon around how charities and not-for-profits can make use of this digital verification system.
I genuinely believe in the value and power that comes from working together. We share experience, skills and risk whilst such partnership working often initiates innovation by challenging existing ways of doing things. Exciting discussion last week with another funder about a potential new funding programme around tech for good. And liaison with colleagues at Nominet Trust and CAST about things we are working on together.
Health and efficiency
No time to go to gym at the start of the week with coming back from Berlin and work stuff. And I realised that it is going to be a tough call for the next few weeks as I want to do stuff to help the Lib Dems in the coming General Election.
I had planned to go to the gym on Fri and Sat. Indeed Fri was all set up with my visit to the INR (blood-clotting) clinic to be followed by the gym. The clinic was cancelled (no that doesn’t cause me any fucking inconvenience at all especially having to re-arrange a new time to go). Then I realised I didn’t want to go to the gym (a sign of depression?). I decided not to guilt trip myself and just go with my feelings. When I awoke on Sat, I was still not in the mood. It is interesting to note that I didn’t feel so tired or hungry as when I am doing exercise.
Saturday was all about coffee, reading, and pottering around charity shops. Sunday I went down to Brighton to stay over to see my two old chaps the next day. I enjoyed being on my own and spent most of the day doing exactly the same as Saturday – coffee, reading, charity shops. There was some alcohol as well. Nothing excessive just a few glasses of wine to dull my senses in a nice way.
No jog-run last week due to the London Marathon. It takes place on Sunday and my route clashes with it. Indeed, not possible to do it on Saturday as the route is being set-up. Won’t do it next weekend either as I will be away.
Bad weight – time for a re-focus?
Bit of a weight disaster, 13-12 so an increase of 3 pounds. Due to the lack of exercise from my time in Berlin? I am feeling slightly despondent about ever losing weight.
But I am thinking of doing something quite radical around exercise and weight. There are five weeks to the election once I return from my holiday. I’m thinking about severely reducing my exercise commitment during that period (and not feeling guilty about it) and instead concentrating on election stuff for the Lib Dems whilst also trying to diet. I will dwell on this whilst I am on holiday.
Books and reading
No paper-based books read because I was caught up in a big epic (+700 pages) that is going to take a couple of weeks to get through. It’s by an author I love (Lindsey Davies) and about the English Civil War whereas she normally writes about the Roman period. It is strange how we have sanitised how bloody and violent this war was, remember that at the time Charles I was referred to as ‘a man of blood’. Civil war is an evil thing and the stuff around Brexit is like being in a civil war but thankfully people have not taken up arms though Jo Cox was murdered and hate crimes have increased.
I did read four short sci-fi stories bought via my kindle:
Nina Allen, ‘The Art of Space Travel’
My favourite of this group of four. A pleasant tale set in the near future about the attempted second manned mission to Mars, the first one having ended in disaster. A very human angle about a young woman discovering who her father really is.
N.K.Jemisin, ‘The City Born Great’
Probably my least favourite. A confusing story about a young person of colour in New York discovering that a unique future awaits them and the city. Frenetic but too loose and unstructured for my tastes. Almost an anti-story.
Carrie Vaughan, ‘That Game We Played During the War’
A pleasant love story about two sides on a planet fighting a war. One is telepathic and the other not. A man and woman from each side fall for each other over a game of chess. Perhaps a tale of not doing what is expected in order to make progress?
Spencer Ellsworth, ‘When Stars are Scattered’
A decent but slightly clumsy story about an Islamic colony on a planet that lives alongside a Christian one. An atheist scientist arrives to assist the muslim colony. Some interesting sub-stories around not believing in God and people attracted to each other who shouldn’t be as well as fascinating aliens who have converted. But a lot of the plot is based on current affairs rather than being something more far-sighted.
Dr Who audio adventures
‘Wirrn Isle’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Flip)
The Wirrn are great – giant mobile insects that lay their eggs in other beings. We first met them in the classic TV adventure ‘The Ark in Space’. This story takes the Doctor back to an Earth being populated by the survivors from the space station in the TV adventure. It’s a very good story for the first 60% being centred on a small group trapped in an icy wasteland. But then it all goes slightly shit with dead children coming back, multiple people being absorbed into Wirrn, tooing and frooing on the transmat, and a Wirrn attack on Earth. There’s a clever bit where it sort of inter-acts with a Dr Who novel never made into a TV or audio adventure. Overall, good but could have been a lot better and I did have to re-listen at times to make sure I knew what was going on.
I stopped doing this for last week, not sure why. But I need to re-start it not least to give me some hope and order for the future. So good stuff for next week:
- Off to Gran Canaria to ‘celebrate’ reaching my half-century!
- Just one day in work and I’ve kept it free so I can clear the decks before I go
- Remotely keeping on top of emails but without getting involved
- Using holiday time to think ahead for the future and re-evaluate as well as rest and recuperate
- News on Nissa’s baby?
- Duolingo/languages every day and some coding learning
- Intensive reading, I hope to get through about three or four books whilst I’m away
- Listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures