The Correct Way to respond to your Special Friend or Partner’s dubious Halloween costume.

It’s not quite Halloween yet, but already excitement is building. I assume. Having spent three years of my life post-university dealing with people who decided to mark the end of October by going out, getting drunk and starting a fight dressed as a sexy cat, the whole thing has kind of lost its appeal for me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t lend a helping hand to those few remaining Facebook friends who want to spend their Halloween Night drinking warm lager while dressed as an unconvincing Dracula and wishing that Captain America in the corner would stop trying to get everyone to go streaking.

In my experience, Halloween costumes can be divided into two categories: Awesome and Fucking Terrible. There is no shame in ending up in either classification; on the contrary,having a Fucking Terrible costume shows a certain cool aloofness. You’re not there to dress up like a Superhero or a Monster or some such dorky shit. You are there to paaaarrrr-tayyyyy, and the fake rubber fangs from Poundland work just as well as the kitty cat headband and a few streaks of mascara to illustrate just how cool you are to care about all this stuff. Being cool at parties is a good thing. And if nothing else, it makes going to the toilet pretty easy.

You may, however, have a partner. A special someone in your life. Your very own Shekh Ma Shieraki Anni, to completely eradicate any lingering sex appeal I may have had forever. Now your significant other may not share your devil-may-care attitude toward costuming; they may want to try to aim for an “Awesome” outfit. Which is fine. Good luck to them. Hope they enjoy spending more time getting ready than they do actually drinking, right? Except they will inevitably try to drag you down with them. If they want to be Buzz Lightyear, you would end up being Woody. If they wanted to go as Darth Vader, you are the loyal Stormtrooper. Or vice-versa! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your costume idea is the best one. They might be sitting over there rolling their eyes as you excitedly click away at Deadpool costumes online. Not sure why. Going as Deadpool would be awesome. You do you.

Anyway, you are here to find out what to do in the event of your partner presenting you with a dodgy costume. On Halloween, obviously. The rest of the time that is your mess (either sudden or eventual) to clean up.

STEP ONE: Assess possible exits, both literal and metaphorical. After all, you’ve still got ten days till Halloween as of the time of writing, and that is plenty of time in which to break a window and leg it, leaving behind a note carefully explaining where you have gone, why you are going, and when you are coming back.

Or fake a cold or something. A horrible, probably contagious, month-long cold. Easy-Peasy.

STEP TWO: Try to suggest you already have a costume. When they ask you what it is, tap the side of your nose and walk away. Relax, you still have, like, a week to think of something.

STEP THREE:  Watch Red Dwarf. It’s on Dave now.

STEP FOUR: Hide under a pile of coats. Why did you waste all that time watching Red Dwarf?! Halloween is tomorrow!

STEP FIVE: Text your beau and tell them that you will meet them at the party. Then turn up in your own costume and tell them a Fox stole theirs.

Have a happy Halloween. Don’t dress like Donald Trump. Or worse, a sexy Donald Trump. Just don’t.


Outlets:A World Mental Health Day Blog

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) I have used this blog and the ill-fated Tumblr account which existed before it to highlight my own ongoing mental health issues. A lot.  What long-time readers (if there are such things) don’t know about my mental state isn’t really worth knowing, and while this does leave me incredibly exposed if one of them decides to become a supervillian, writing about my experiences is still a positive action because it means that I am not suffering in silence.

This blog is my safe place. It’s where I can marshal my thoughts, get what is bothering me out in the open, and maybe channel what I am going through into something constructive. Other people with mental illnesses could have their own outlets, be it music or art or a close friend or relative. But there are many more who aren’t so lucky. Who cannot or will not express themselves for social reasons, cultural reasons, or maybe simply because they think they don’t deserve to.

Even if and when these people decide that they want to talk, finding someone to help them is a challenge in itself. Most NHS doctors, once they have tried a wide and often conflicting variety of medications, will simply give their patient the number of the local chapter of MIND and tell them they need to refer themselves. Which raises a whole host of questions. Do I want to put myself through all this again? If the medication didn’t work, why would counselling? Am I too broken? Even if they do decide they want to try counselling, they could face a long wait for a very limited number of sessions. A sticking plaster for a broken leg.

So all too often, these people stay quiet and things get worse. I should know, because I was one of them.  Whether I was successful in hiding my problems is another matter, because people clearly noticed that I was upset or agitated.But when they spoke to me about it, I just ended up saying things which I thought they wanted to hear. I was so desperate to be liked, to be included, to be thought of as someone who was working through their issues that I hid what was really going on. And we all know how that ended up.

No one should suffer in silence. No-one should have to find themselves alone because they have pushed everyone away, no-one should be forced to choose between the image they present to the world or their mental health. But they do. Which is why we have Mental Health Day, so that this doesn’t happen.
If you want a laugh, check out my previous blog in which I talk about Western Musicals and fumble around social acceptability like a Gorilla playing Buckaroo.

Annie Get Your Gun 

I really don’t stop to thank the people who read my blog often enough. Especially the people who message me directly to show their support or set me up with writing gigs. Don’t get me wrong, I try to give back kindness where I can-be it helping arrange a tour of the Metropolitan Police Dog training school, or acting as champion in a trial by combat. But it is hard to figure out how and when such support would be considered appropriate, especially since I haven’t really seen most of my admittedly rather small audience in years.

Recently, one of my readers-a friend from my days at the Dartford Parents Consortium-was cast as the lead in an amateur production of Annie Get Your Gun. The fact that someone from those days was not in prison, under section, displaced in time or teaching was an achievement all on its own, but playing the titular character of an actual play in an actual theatre was, and still is, pretty impressive. And as she had been responsible for me becoming a featured blogger on a medical journal website, I thought I would go to show my support.

Now here is the question. Was it appropriate for me to go? Considering the amount of time that had past since our last face-to-face encounter, showing up to something like Annie Get Your Gun unannounced may have been considered to be at best a bit weird. Even if I had gone and not said anything about it to anyone, that would still have been kind of an unpleasant thing to do because again, amount of time between now and last real life conversation. 

The best advice I can give to anyone in that position would be to ask permission. Not so much in regards to blogs, articles and donating money, things that are not really actions that could make the person you want to support feel uncomfortable, but more in terms of real life events such as plays, concerts and sporting events. (Or all three, if your mates are into Quidditch). Just send them a brief message via Facebook or Twitter which shows you want to show support, but at the same time gives the option of saying “no, sorry, it’s been too long”, or words to that effect. 

Fortunately my friend was cool with me going. Which was brilliant, because it was a night out that was well worth the price of admission. I enjoyed the show and it was nice seeing someone from the good old days do something they clearly love doing. 

So thank you. Thank you for letting me come, and thank you for being my friend when I needed one. I promise not to annoy you unless absolutely nessecary.

(If you want me to mention you in an incredibly roundabout way or do something for you in exchange for reading this blog, leave a comment or contact me via Facebook or Twitter. Social norms will be respected unless it appears I may die or be otherwise incapacitated, in which case I will freak out and try to kiss you on the mouth, as I may never get the chance to again. Yee-Haw!)

The Beginner’s Guide to the Pumpkin Spice Latte

I have never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I may need to hand in my Middle Class Membership Card.

Prior to this Blog I had filed the Pumpkin Spice Latte under “Things that would never pass my lips without the aid of a couple of crowbars and a funnel”. However, now that I have “recovered” from my Eating Disorder , or at the very least stopped trying to starve myself to death, I have been challenging myself to try new things. And since I had nothing else better to do with my day off, a trip to Starbucks was in order.

But first, some facts about the Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  1. It has been available since early September. Which some people suggest is far too early. But at least no-one has made the mistake of trying to release it in August again.  What happened to the Marketing Executive that made that fateful decision is unknown, but he has never been seen again, and legend has it that his badly scorched and blackened desk has been left standing in Starbucks HQ as an example to others.
  2. If you need to ask what is actually in a Pumpkin Spice Latte, you are probably not the sort of person that should be drinking them. Suffice it to say that if you like sugar, boy are you in for a treat.
  3. Like most drinks available at Starbucks, you can make Pumpkin Spice Lattes at home and at the fraction of the cost. Why you would actually want to do this is a mystery and should probably not be mentioned again in polite company.
  4. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are available chilled. Which would be fine if they were a summer drink, but it’s autumn and why would you want to be even colder? Get it together, guys. Jesus.

Having bought my drink and experienced the same disappointment I always do when the Barristas get my name right (I just want one comically misspelled coffee cup I can post on Instagram, is that too much to ask?) I sat down and tried my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, feeling brave and strong our of all proportion to what I was actually doing.

It was okay.  Not great, but you know…okay.

I definitely feel like it’s Autumn now. Which I suppose is the whole point. Plus I feel like I could try a White Chocolate Mocha now that I know I can have a nice drink and not instantly put on six hundred pounds. So, overall,  this has been a good experience.

Next time, I try to reconcile with Oreos following an acrimonious split. I’m not going to lie, it might be a bit difficult. Things were said, mistakes were made.