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Once again, sickness has struck the household. It seems right now whenever things start to settle down we get another visited by another malady. Infectious and effective, it certainly put all our plans for the week on hold.

Whilst I would rather we both not be sick, at least this has allowed me to spend more time with my daughter. I really like being around when she is poorly, because it means I feel I get greater opportunity to help comfort her when she needs it. Something I cannot do, obviously, when at work. Also, Melian is now aware when her parents are poorly, and so she also sometimes tries to comfort me.

Fatherhood sometimes has rewards that are truly sublime.

 

Well, this is going to be a very short post for a very simple reason: I have done virtually no gaming at all this past week. The cold-thingy that I have been afflicted with in one form or another for the last few weeks truly took off the gloves. I last played World of Tanks last Saturday – and not very much then. On Sunday I felt I was coughing too much for an online game (kinda mucks up your aim) and so did a bit of Skyrim. And I haven’t played a game since, and I won’t be playing anything tonight either.

Essentially I have been going to work, doing the best I can (which at times has been admittedly a lot of effort for relatively little result), coming home, seeing my daughter to bed, and then just trying rest and sleep the best I can. Along the way I have developed a nasty, hacking like cough that makes me sound as I have been smoking sixty a day since I was twelve, and I have also lost my voice. The last makes me squeak, which at times is actually quite funny – only laughing sounds me into a another painful paroxysm fit of coughing. Seriously, the last time I felt this ill was when I had a chest infection, which makes me wonder if perhaps I have another. A trip to the doctor is in order unless things seriously start getting better this weekend.

Anyway, that is the chief reason why I have not blogged anything at all this week.

I have actually been slowing working on my WoT Monthly report, which I might get around to doing in the next day or two. Otherwise gaming and posting is going to have to wait until this cough/cold thingy is under better control.

Well, that is the intention, hopefully it will become the reality.

I have been putting off dealing with my weight for a long time. However, I had decided at the end of the summer that after our holiday in Cornwall would have to be the time.

The history of my weight is mixed up heavily with my period of illness. Before I started my descent I was overweight – no doubt about that – but not grossly so. My weight fluctuated up and down a bit as well with the seasons, going up in winter and down in summer. However as my descent began I started to do a lot of comfort eating. Some people feast on chocolate, or sweets, or chips (fries to the yanks), or something similar. My weakness however has always been for crisps. One bag of crisps always comes in a 12-bag multipack, or something similar.

Then I had my period of breakdown, and I stopped leaving the house. I didn’t stop eating – if anything I ate even more, at times furiously. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out the combination of an almost total loss of exercise combined with a massive eating of crisps, bacon sandwiches, and other such things will do to a waistline. Then my medication changed – successfully – at the price of slowing my metabolism and therefore making me more susceptible to weight gain. Over the course of the next year I expanded in physical mass by at least 50%.

While I obviously regret putting on so much weight, I should say I do not view this as entirely negatively. There are many possibilities for substance abuse when one is utterly depressed and with nothing to do (and nothing to hope for). With plentiful alcohol and tobacco (ignoring for the moment illegal thrills) to sample, I choose food, which is probably the most forgiving of all.

Of course, losing weight is easier to say than done. My first attempt was a complete failure. I waited another year, and the second attempt worked. My weight dropped over the course of a year by about 6 stone. Things looked good, but then I got a jolt from the blue which totally overthrew my equilibrium. I fell in love.

My wife and I have both put on quite a bit of weight since we first met. In particular after she moved over here we just proved incapable of keeping up with the rigors of a diet initially. We were so happy at finally being together, each and every day, we just had a very long celebration. Then we were married, and learned we were to become parents, and then started to learn all about being parents … well, to be frank we kept putting it off.

This summer though we have been talking about it more. There will be a cost of all this extra mass, and we both want to have as long and healthy a life as we can manage. After all, we want to see as much of Melian’s life as we can. It didn’t seem entirely wise to start losing weight just before two holidays though, so we put the date as last week.

I must say it was with some trepidation I got on the scales that first time – with some justification. For those who like old-fashioned money, as it were, I came in at 3lbs and 3cwt – or 24 stone 3 pounds (1 stone = 14 lbs). However, it could have been worse. I am, I think, no heavier at least than I was at my worst in the year or so following my illness – and since I am more active I actually feel much healthier than I did back then.

The first week has gone reasonably well. The scales regarded a very flattering 8 pounds lost, which is real enough but something of a mirage. Every time I have started to lose weight the first week or two has a big drop as my body re-adjusts water content and the like.

The important thing though is that we are really trying hard to avoid the concept of diet. This has to be for the long haul – for a lifetime. This is more lifestyle change than diet. I think in the long run this may mean slower weight loss. Hopefully it will also mean more permanent weight loss. The one exception has to be crisps. Time has proven that I just cannot control having crisps now and then, or one bag at a time. It is all or nothing, so it has to be nothing.

I hope it is not too forward of me, but wish me luck.

Today I did something I have wanted to do for a very long time – my wife and I visited the village of St.Cleer where I grew up. It lies on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor, in Cornwall. It has been over twenty years since I lived there, and almost ten years since my Granny (who continued to live there after we moved) passed away, yet the moment we were on the road the led into the village I felt at home. It is the one place of which I can honestly say “This is where I come from – this place nurtured me and helped me grow, a refuge from the storm of life”.

For all that it has been a while since I was last there, and I must admit to feeling rather curious since. There is a part of me that deeply misses Cornwall, and the act of going back this last week has reminded me just how deep the missing is.

Twenty years, but still the roots are there, deep as the granite that the village rests on.

This evening I lost two games in World of Tanks, pretty poorly, and shut the game down. I spent a few minutes completing a few tasks in a couple of other games, on one Facebook and the other on my smartphone, which took about fifteen minutes at most. Then I pretty much just started at my monitor screen. Occasionally I navigated to a webpage, even more rarely I read a story. This lasted for the best part of an hour.

Depressive episodes like this can be a little bit worrisome – they were very frequent during my descent to being ill. On the other hand episodes like this have always happened with me. Also to be fair a few things are going on right now which would make me a bit morose – the general disruption of routine that I mentioned previously, a continuing intensely busy situation at work, and then also over the weekend my mother had an emergency admission to hospital (back at home now convalescing, everything appears under control). In other words I have ample good reason to feel a bit “spaced”.

Nevertheless, they can be very vampiric, sucking life and light out of the moment. They are not periods of relaxation or restoration. There is no easy way of getting out of a dark mood for me once one has caught hold. It requires effort, work, and frankly half an hour to midnight is not when I generally have the energy to be attempting that.

Today though the mood interrupted by the sound of my daughter waking up, a bit unhappy. I went to her room, and as expected she needed some water. The weather continues quite muggy here, and so Melian needs an extra drink of water once or twice most nights. So in I went, felt around the cot for her (since my eyes do not adjust that quickly to the night-light we have in there), picked her up, gave her a cuddle, enabled her to have her drink, cuddled her some more, gave her a second drink at her request (lack of speech does not mean lack of communication) cuddled her some more again, and eventually put her back down. The entire time in the room, perhaps five minutes at most.

Yet it was exactly what I needed, a cuddle with my daughter to help me finish the day with a smile.

Now, Melian did not know her daddy needed a cuddle and so woke up – it was just a fortunate co-incidence. However, I have noticed since becoming a husband and a father it is amazing just how wonderful such fortunate co-incidences are – and how often they happen if one is aware to them. To be sure none of the reasons that contributed to my dark mood have dispersed – they are all still very much present. On the other hand, I have just had a cuddle with my daughter and helped her go back to sleep. It does not sound like much, but it has changed the entire perspective of the day.

Just one extra reason to love being a father.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday – an occasion for merriment and joy, but there is a slightly darker undertone to my birthday as it is immediately followed by a somewhat less pleasant anniversary. Six years ago today (20th July 2007) my mental health finally fell apart, and I had a very severe panic attack / fit at work. Today the memories of those first three weeks of a wet July are mostly just unpleasant memories. Fortunately. For that I can thank my wife, my daughter, and also other friends and family.

Ten years ago I was a little concerned about growing older, as I think most people are in their early twenties. I remember twenty-three sounding so very much older than twenty-two, for example, but while it was a concern it was never as big an issue as it genuinely is for many people. These days however the matter is rather turned on its head.

The other way I celebrate my birthday is simple: hooray for still being alive. Having come closer to ending my own life than anyone should ever have to experience now I can celebrate each birthday by being grateful for the simple fact I am still alive to have birthdays. In some respects this is one of the most profound (and I think positive) developments in my worldview to have occurred. Unfortunately I also think it is a worldview that probably only resonates strongly with those who have, for whatever reason, come very close to not being alive – and I would not wish my experiences (or anything similar) on my own worst enemy.

I tentatively suggest however that it is still a worthwhile thought around birthday-time – being alive is generally a great thing. A birthday marks another year of life – not another year older but another year richer, with all the ups and downs; triumphs and failures; challenges and surprises that comprise life. It is a precious thing, worth celebrating.

 

Two years ago I became a husband. I never thought that I would. Until I proposed to my wife, I had never even had a girlfriend.

However, over the course of several years of playing EVE Online I had gotten to become a friend with a corp-mate, and I travelled to Denmark to meet her. This was hardly the first time I had met someone I had first known online – I have two good friends in the States whom I had also visited that I first met via the Paradox Interactive forums. We exchanged photographs a week or so before so we would have some idea who to look out for in the airport.

We met for the first time in the arrivals area of Kastrup, Copenhagen’s major airport. Before I left to return home I had asked my friend to marry me, and she had said yes. Single to engaged in nine days. Two years ago today we exchanged our vows.

Five years ago this month I started back at work, having been off work for a year as a result of my illness. Five years ago I never expected to be a husband, or a father. I never thought I would be fortunate enough to have those words applied to me.

Today they are – and there is no way that the written or spoken word can convey just what those two simple words mean to me. Today I just want to give thanks that my wife and I did find ourselves, at first in the unlikely place of a noob-corp chat channel in EVE.