The Hell Butterfly

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Custard

This is both my first blog post written and published on my new phone and my first post at all this month. I should be sitting here thinking about how this may look when I hit publish, if the format will come out okay, or if you my readers will accept my neglect of The Hell Butterfly. Instead, I have been thinking about how depression is like custard.

Depression is like custard. Your brain is like a swimming pool and the water it is filled with is your life. You have to learn to swim in it. As a child you cannot swim,  but you have the in-built knowledge that means you already secretly know how. At first you wear the armbands of Mum and Dad. They keep you afloat until you learn to swim alone, and by then it is second nature.

Then one day you realise you’re getting tired. Your arms and legs don’t work so well anymore. Staying afloat is not so easy. You begin to drown. But then the water begins to drain, replaced from outside by a steady flow of custard. This thick, yellowy substance starts pouring down on top of you. This custard is depression. You know that you must get above it or you’ll be lost forever.

So instinct drives you to get out of the pool. The exertion that it took to lift yourself out with custard raining down on you has all but killed you and now fatigue makes you kneel, sit, lie down. You no longer have the energy to stand up. All you can do is watch the water get overwhelmed by custard. Watch your life be overwhelmed by depression. You are outside of yourself. You are there but you are disconnected from the chaos. The water is draining, draining and you can’t even get up off the floor.

And then the flow of custard stutters. The stream becomes a mere trickle, little bubbles of yellow goo growing and detaching to hit the surface every now and then. You can still see one patch of water in the far corner and you know that if you could just get to it you could turn on the pump and get the water back. You’re so tired, but this is the only way to make everything right again.

But you’re so comfortable down here. You can finally rest. You’ve been swimming so long you never knew how good it felt to just stay still. Be so quiet and so still … Maybe you don’t have to make it to the other side, you think. Maybe you can just stay here and enjoy resting until the pool has finished filling with custard. It will all be over then and you’ll never have to struggle again.

But you know you should get up. You know you have to get up. You must.

So you drag yourself up off the floor, arms shaking from fatigue. You prop one knee up, then the other, and you stand. You’ve been swimming for so long that you don’t think you remember how to walk. The complex act of swimming has replaced your knowledge of walking, the simple act of surviving. Now, with legs trembling in protest, trying desperately to hold your aching frame erect, you take a step towards the poolside. A breath and then you go.

Depression is like custard. You can walk on it so long as you keep moving. Steady steps, balancing your weight so evenly and so calmly. That is how you make it over alive. But when you stop walking, that’s when you begin to sink. Like quicksand the custard will claim your soles and down, down you’ll go. And the deeper you sink, the faster you fall. The deeper you sink, the harder it is to get out.

By standing still, you are doing nothing but falling. If you let yourself give in to the fatigue, give in to the desire to rest eternally, all that awaits you is certain death. But if you keep moving, you will make it, I assure you. You have to force yourself on, push your body and mind to the limit. You have to go on knowing if you make it you must start swimming again, must swim forever. But you must do it.

And you must do it remembering you have to learn to walk before you can swim.

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-Sleeping Pandora-

Shattered lines.
Literary shells
from a voicebox unprepared.
Physical, the trepidation
of the sentence, piercing.
Trapped between the walls
that make them.
Choking.
Broken letters lose their meaning.
Lexical annihilation.
Harsh are the shards
of a syntax born of Mutiny
and Melancholy.
A fist unclenching in
the throat of the destroyer.
They will not come.
Glass fragments of Soul’s window
impale them,
those suicidal words of murder.
A knot entangled in
the fleshy chamber, lodged
somewhere behind the traitor tongue.
Intent betrayed to silence.
But for the throbbing ache
that stabs in spite,
all is unchanged.
He shall not bleed.

-The Eye-

Hurricane;
swirling torment over water;
destruction in a blink;
here one moment;
gone the next.
Never does it solve itself,
the grey skyline confliction.
Never will the dust settle
on this heavenly candyfloss annihilation.
Above the water,
where the shipwrecks sleep,
an ever-watching pair of eyes
awaits the fall.

-Corrosion-

Blackened.
Mind and iris.
Fuzzy edges of a feeling.
Sense nonsensical and
line after
meticulous line of poison red.
Slice of rust.
Blackened.
Liquid pulsing into
flakes of coal-stained ruby.
Scarred,
forever etched now with those screams.
Oppression in a vaccuum.
All is lost.
It sleeps.

Conflict is the Bane of My Existence

I hate conflict.

I don’t use the word lightly. Hate is a strong word. There are many things I dislike, some with a passion, but hate is reserved for a select few things. One of these is conflict. I can’t stand it. Some people get twitchy at nails on a blackboard, I get it when an argument ensues. It’s just not in my nature to fight.

Conflict ranges from minor incidents to a full-on brawl. Weirdly I enjoy watching anime, which often involves blood and injury, but that I have a different opinion on. I hate the constant need to fight, that people can’t get along, and that characters are always seemingly angry at someone. But the actual fights themselves are often beautifully drawn and so, if they must fight, I can at least enjoy the art of it.

Physical altercations are, however, only one end of the spectrum. To some extent I find myself actually less affected by them than I do the arguments, the debate, the shouting in peoples’ faces. I can’t even watch Jeremy Kyle if there is more than one minute of consecutive shouting. I’m a turtle. When something happens I don’t like, I retreat. It’s almost physical, I actually feel my neck recede into my chest and my chin become one with my collarbone. Shouting just grates at me.

What’s worse is I can’t even listen to a passionate debate without thinking they’re angry. I stress over the smallest of tension in a voice, so even if what I hear is merely a discussion, if voices are stern I get tense. I have an anxiety over conflict. Any form of yelling or anger in normal conversation sets me on edge. It makes it hard when I’m with people who have naturally loud voices – I always feel they’re shouting.

My intense hatred of conflict has been fired up with the recent General Election. My boyfriend voted Green, my dad voted Conservative and I almost voted Labour. No matter what happened, one of us was going to be in the wrong. As it happens, Conservative won. In the few hours that followed this announcement more hatred and animosity than I’ve seen in a long time came flooding out in news and media: “The Conservatives only love themselves”, “The Tories don’t care about people”, “All they want is more money”, “Fuck the Tory scum”. I hate it. I really fucking hate it. The people who voted Conservative had a reason to do so, just like the people who voted Green, or god forbid even UKIP, had a reason to do so. It’s just the way it went. You all had a chance to vote, you cast your vote, the results came in. It’s that simple. The procedure is fair, couldn’t in fact be much fairer. You ticked a box, they counted them. This time around the Blues won.

Now get over it.

We have to live with certain things. Why get angry about something you can’t change? I hear it all the time, people give me advice and tell me not to let the things that I can’t do anything about affect me. And yet here are half the country complaining about a fair judgement that is no longer in their hands. Stop the conflict. Just stop it. It’s done.

I really fucking hate conflict.

It’s Okay Not to Vote

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As has been on many a social media site and television channel alike, most of the country is focussed on one thing: the election. Who is voting for who? What will they do about immigration? How much do they plan to overspend by this year? Now, I am a 21 year old female about to leave university and join the ‘real world’, and this would seem like the prime moment to choose a side. But the truth is this: I am not voting, and that’s okay.

With so many people telling you to vote and stressing the importance of making a decision about who will run the country, it is hard to remember that it is okay to not want to vote. But the truth of the matter is that politics is hard, and not many people actually understand it. There is a lot to learn, and it isn’t something that can be taught overnight. Simple questions like, why does everyone hate Ed Miliband so much?, or what is the difference between left and right wing?, are actually much more complicated to explain that you may think. To really understand the complexities of politics, it will take a lot of perseverance, keeping your ear to the ground, and patience. Someone who seems to know everything about it has probably been following it for some time. It takes time to understand something that complicated and you should not be ashamed to ask the “stupid” questions because, to be honest, there are no stupid questions.

I am not voting this year. I took a survey online that suggested I should vote Labour, but just because an online questionnaire says I seem to favour the reds, it doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and sign the next 5 years over to them. The main reason I’m not voting is because I don’t understand it. I refuse to vote for something without first knowing what I’m voting for. I couldn’t tell you the difference between any of the parties, so why would I tick a box, or even spoil the vote, without first getting to grips with the basics? In my opinion, it is perfectly okay to choose not to vote at all if you don’t understand. Rather than casting a vote for something unknown, I have chosen to hold back and spend the next five years watching what happens. I intend to find and read the manifestos, see which I side with more, and then see if the party that wins A) stands by their promises and B) makes a positive difference. If they break their promises, or make things worse, it will make my decision more informed next time the vote comes around. By that time I will have a more well-informed idea of the world of politics.

And moreover, I will have a better understanding of what I need. I have a pretty good knowledge of student life, having just spent 3 years at university. But the vote is for the next five years. I am no longer in education, but I am also not yet integrated into the working world. It is impossible for me to comment on what I need in regards to wages, tax and benefits etc. until I have spent some time finding a job, and living in rented accommodation, I will be unable to know what I need from my government. This is something I think is overlooked. Young people still in education are being encouraged to vote, but that government will be in play when they leave, and it is near impossible to predict the difference in living during and after university. Come the next big election, I will have experience under my belt, and a working knowledge of the government. Only then will I be ready to make an informed decision, and have formed my own opinion.

It is okay not to vote. It is wrong to push a person into voting just because you, yourself, understand it. Many people don’t and it is far better to withhold judgment on an unfamiliar topic than to make an uninformed choice under pressure. Your vote is important, that much is true, so don’t throw it away needlessly. You wouldn’t buy a car without first understanding the differences, so why choose your parliament without an understanding of it? Get informed. Listen to debates, follow the headlines (and know the papers’ biases), read the manifestos. And then when the next election comes around, if you feel you understand it enough, go right ahead. At least then you’ll know your vote will mean something.

“O, what’s in a name?”

The following short story is in need of your help. It’s working title is ‘Exchange’ however I am displeased with this. I therefore invite you all to read this 600 word piece and come up with a title of your own. Post it in the comments section and the best one will have the honour of, well, being the permanent title. Here goes.

Exchange

There’s a man in my neighbourhood that likes to be talked to. He’s a hobo but he listens good. I see him slumped in underpasses when I go to lectures, pick up a ten bag, buy a box of Minstrels. He has one of those hats, you know the ones. Flappy ear bits that make him look like Goofy on a windy day. I give him a bite of my Snickers sometimes, I know he likes the crunch. It’s the sound it makes, you see. I bet his soul makes the same sound, like throwing a handful of peanuts in a washing machine and spinning the drum.

I’ve grown pretty accustomed to that upturned palm. Never get to read it much but he says he’ll crack me a peek one day. He’s a hobo but he lies good. I know he pays no mind to visual affairs. He can’t read none but he likes to hear a pretty tale any day. Even painful ones have a music that quivers a man’s heart strings he says. A lot can be revealed in a Devil’s chord. I played him some Debussy once. I didn’t hear the sea until he sung it back to me. See? See lad? He cried that day into his cavity-smile.

Most folks won’t shine a watch in his eyes but he doesn’t care for them. No point wasting time on the Rolex-clad. He’s a hobo but he holds himself good. I asked him one day about the napkin he always had tied to his belt. It was the colour of rust. He tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I thought he meant to learn me something so I came back again the next day. Again I asked and again he brushed me off. I never saw that pouch get bigger or smaller until one afternoon when I saw an old broad walk his way. My eyes were glued but therein lay my lesson I assumed. So I shut my eyes, sparked a J and listened.

Penny for them? Clink clink. Oh, oh alright, dear boy. Well, it’s my husband you see. We met oh so long ago, right after the war. He was wearing his beret and looked dashing, he was such a handsome man, my Bert. I was a simple girl back then but he saw more in me somehow. He always seemed to … it’ll be so hard without him. He had a weak heart, you see. He loved too fiercely and it just … gave out. Oh but I mustn’t be too sad. He lived a long life and I’ll join him on that porch in Vienna soon enough. Thank you, my boy. God bless you.

I poked my nose round the corner to see the old man bathing in his tears. He was smiling that cavity smile and savouring some private melody. Through all of this I hadn’t seen the purpose of the rust-coloured napkin. It looked the same to me as it did before. The woman crossed my path in a talcum cloud and in her hand was a dirty coin. I had to know, so I went to him and posed my question for the final time. Morning, Trash-Can Dan. What’s in the napkin? Through his salty streams he tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I never knew my Dad. Fresh liquid pebbles manifested in his lashes. He’s a hobo, but he cries good. His fingers worked at the napkin package for a second then he turned and pressed a copper coin into my hand. Penny for them?