Look at the lost souls
They seem so black
Look at the lost souls
Souls of black.
Every day about this time,
I lose my reason and my rhyme
Everything around me’s getting clearer.
Season’s changing quickly,
My attitude is strictly here and now
The time is getting nearer.
After this and until November 5, all song lyric quotes will be from the bands Testament, Behemoth, Lamb of God, Anthrax and Slayer because I am seeing them all in concert on that day. There will also be an AC/DC quote because I will be seeing a tribute band on October 26.
Often there are times when we all feel this way, that we should just quit. It could be school, a job, a sports team, a band or any number of things. Quitting does often relieve the stress that comes with whatever the quitter is doing at the time. That no longer have to do the thing which was causing hardship in your life can often be a major release. However, while quitting might rid one of the short term stress, it often doesn’t solve the problem and can create more.
The option of quitting something came upon me two days ago. Twice a year, I organize a softball tournament in my hometown where teams from all over Britain come to play. Yes, they do play softball in the UK. For the most part, the tournament was a big success but there was a few issues as well. During the sixteen years I have been running the tournament, there has been very few injuries. This last one, however, was like a combat zone. There were at least six possibly serious injuries, including three people getting hit on the head with a ball and one more in the mouth as well as a very worrying ankle injury. To make matters worse, even though I am a qualified first aider, (I saw my certificate today), I froze when the injuries happened and my Asperger’s kicked in because there were more injuries on this day than all the tournaments going back 16 years combined. Plus, the first aid kit I kept in my car wasn’t there when I needed it. At the tournament’s conclusion, a couple of the umpires expressed their dissatisfaction at the way the injuries were handled and are going to report it to the British Softball Federation. While, I have been told not to worry about that too much it only makes me worry more. After, all I have Asperger’s and things like this play hell with my anxieties.
To further fuel the flames, the following day I received an email from the manager of the venue where the tournaments are held stating that there was a lot of litter left behind. He also made a very good point that the tournament was played by adults so there was no excuse for there to be so much litter after. I have to agree with it but the ultimately, the responsibility lies with me as the organizer. My big worry here is that he might not allow the tournaments at the venue any more and there is no real suitable place in the area to hold it. At best, there is one place but that venue is only capable of putting three diamonds on it as opposed to the four I normally have and teams will be playing on a incline. So, it’s easy to see why I don’t want to lose the venue.
As a result, I have thought of simply falling on my sword and stepping down as the tournament organizer. I even have a logical argument that I can still assist with the tournament in a support role in many ways. Not having to organize and be responsible for it would relieve many anxieties. However, if I was to quit, I don’t think anyone would be willing to take over and the tournaments would end. I also believe that many softball players would be disappointed if the tournament went away, just for the sake of getting to play more softball if nothing else. The main reason that keeps me from simply quitting is because like my post about suicide a few weeks back, I see quitting as taking the coward’s way out. I would be quitting just because a couple of things didn’t go right and not facing those challenges.
At the moment, I don’t intend to step down. Saying that, my anxieties are such that I worry that anyone who knows me through softball who reads this is going to accuse me of trying to get sympathy from everybody. That’s not the case, besides, with my experience, it would probably have the reverse effect and everyone would be telling me to quit. No, the best thing here is to learn from my mistakes and soldier on. I already have ideas for addressing the problems.
Shameless tie in with my book, “He Was Weird:” In the story Mark quits the football team because he doesn’t get to play even when his team wins 24-0. His heart was no longer in the game anyway and like my own experience which this story line is based on, quitting the team leads to further bullying from his former teammates.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539210927&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
These past few days, I went on a client holiday to Minehead with a service user named Jerry. We went there last year and stayed at the same holiday home. Like last year, things were very laid back and it did give me some inspiration and motivation for writing my next short story.
We were only there two days but we managed to pack a lot into them. We went on the cliff train at Lynmouth and also rode the steam train the entire length this time. Here are some pictures, enjoy.
Further reflecting on last week’s post about how I have grown comfortable living in Great Britain has brought up an issue from the past. When I came to the UK 32 years ago, the one great piece of baggage I brought with me was my mental health issues. Changing country doesn’t make them go away, though I never thought it would. Saying that, I still disagree with the college chaplain at Queen Mary College in London, who said that I came to Britain to run away from my problems. I won’t go further into it but you can read my ancient post, “Did I Run Away?” if you’re interested.
Thirty or so years ago, mental health was a taboo subject for people but even more so in Britain. In 1990, I went to my doctor because I have a family history of thyroid problems and I saw that I had some of the symptoms associated with it. My doctor told me that it was all in my head and referred me to a psychiatrist. When I started seeing the psychiatrist, my wife swore me to secrecy about it, especially around her family. Her feeling was that seeing a shrink wasn’t something you do in Britain. It’s something Americans do. During the time I was seeing the psychiatrist, I was also strong in the Mormon Church. There was some things the psychiatrist said that came into conflict with the teachings of the church. As a result, I thought I should talk to my bishop about it and when I told him that I was seeing a psychiatrist, his response was, “A lot of Americans do that.” Even though, he gave me some wise council regarding it, those words were the ones that stuck out the most.
This is the stereotype that filtered through my Asperger’s/DAMP mind for many years. Throughout my life, I always thought that there wasn’t something quite right in my mind. Hell, others were quick to point it out too. However, in addition to the popular taboos about seeing a mental health practitioner, the fear that I was acting like a stereotypical American persuaded me from getting any help. Shrinks and counselors were things that ‘Americans do’ and in Britain, you’re simply supposed to sort it out on your own. The stereotype went even further with some Britons saying that Americans were so weak minded, they need to talk to their psychiatrist because they can’t cope with their pet hamster dying. I definitely didn’t want to be thought of in that way.
Eventually, I did break free of the stereotype when I decided to go into counselling many years ago. Even then, I did it in such a way that only the people I wanted to knew about it. Fortunately, at my first session with the counselor, I told her my fears with the stereotype and it was a major breakthrough for me when she said she had never heard about that stereotype. While that was a major turning point, there were still many obstacles to over come and with that help, I have been able to overcome many of those. My conclusion is that no matter where you live or who you are, if you need help, go and get it!
Now, my Asperger’s mind has me envisioning loads of people, most British, saying that I shouldn’t have let that stereotype get to me. Well, they’re right, I shouldn’t have. But when there are so many stereotypes against your nationality that I wanted to avoid, the last thing I wanted to do was to do something that substantiated that stereotype. I must also point out that not all British people think that about Americans and I don’t want to be accused of stereotyping all British people, my counselor certainly didn’t. Stereotypes aren’t good and with someone with a mental health problem, they can get in the way of getting the help that person needs.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538416596&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Being an American who has lived in Great Britain for the past 32 years, I am often asked the question, “Don’t you miss America?” The straight forward answer is “No.” However, there are things I do miss about my native country. I often joke about it but I do miss not being able to get Cap’n Crunch cereal and that is the first thing I buy whenever I go back to the States. Tastykake fruit pies is another one. But it’s not all about food, which is cheaper in the US, so are clothes. Whenever I am trying to park my car into a tight parking space, I do wish they did the diagonal and larger car park spaces like they do in America. The internet age has made it easier to watch American Football or ice hockey games without having to wait for a video of the game to be sent to me. For the most part, though, I don’t miss living in America.
One thing which many teachers who ask me that question are in agreement with is when I respond, that when I go into a UK classroom as a substitute (supply) teacher, the chances of me getting shot are virtually nil. I know the chances of it happening in the US are still slim, despite all the media hype, but I am much more likely to get shot in an American school as opposed to a British one.
This is the extreme, there are other reasons why I like living in the UK. For years, I have been afraid to sing the praises of Britain’s National Health Service. This was mainly down to my own Asperger’s fed paranoia that if I did, the more politically conservative British types would brand me a “health tourist” and those who fanatically believe everything they read in The Sun newspaper would happily jump on the bandwagon and say the same about me. These people would need to get their facts right. I can safely say that my National Insurance contributions over the past 30+ years are more than what the NHS has spent on my personal healthcare. I am NOT a health tourist and it’s ignorant to think of me as such. On the other hand, had it not been for the National Health Service, I believe that I could have been a two time widower or at the very least, paying astronomical health insurance premiums if not paying sky high doctor bills. The health service saved the lives of my wife and my ex-wife. In spite of what a few American rednecks have tried to tell me online, the NHS works!
Life in Great Britain hasn’t all been peaches and cream, I have had challenges. I honestly believe that in the first few years that I lived in the UK, there were times when I was genuinely discriminated against when going for jobs. It may sound stupid to many Brits, especially those who view race issues through rose coloured glasses, but I learned quickly that no one is going to cry racism for a white American. Not just jobs either, the reality of it all came down when, many years ago, I was accused of lying when I was off sick from work on July 4. I appealed to the Racial Equality Commission for help and was told that white Americans don’t come under the Racial Equality Act. Furthermore, I have heard many ‘jokes’ aimed at Americans where had the same joke been said about another nationality, the teller of the joke would have been branded a ‘racist.’ At times, I have found this very frustrating and I have also found the response, “Don’t let it get to you,” patronizing. With my Asperger’s/DAMP soaked mind, it does get to me and I sometimes wish it would be taken more seriously. And I take little comfort in people who try to console me by saying, “If you weren’t white, it would be racism.” While that’s probably true, it doesn’t help and the person who says it is being racist themselves. What I have done is to not let it spoil my fondness for my adopted country. I like it here.
One thing I was guilty of when I first came to Britain is stereotyping. Yes, I hate it when I am stereotyped with all Americans so now I know better. Originally, I came to the UK to attend university for one year. When I arrived, my politics were left of centre even in British politics. (In America, I was thought of as a Communist.) Also, I was very angry at America at the time, so I thought that my left wing anti-American views would make me the cool guy at the college because I thought that British students all shared my views. Many did but many didn’t not. Some looked with utter confusion when they saw me reading Socialist Worker. When asked why would an American be reading such a paper, there was mixed reactions to my response, “I’m just taking advantage of the fact I’m in a free country where I can read things like this.” So, contrary to what Americans might think, not all British students are loony left Marxists. Nowadays, while I’m still left of centre, I have issues with the far left which I will share in a future post.
What the main point I’m trying to get off my chest is that I love living in Britain. Not just for the NHS but many other reasons. Most are socially more tolerant than my country of birth. This is especially true in regards to my mental health issues although the US is improving on that, which is good. Nothing against the US, I still love the country I was born in but I am much more suited to life in the UK.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537873672&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
This may be the hardest post I ever write. While some may already be congratulating me for being brave in coming forward to admit I am self-harming, I am wary that it may be brushed aside as many will not consider it serious. In some people’s definition of the term, my self-harming isn’t anything that might cause serious injury. I’m not cutting or burning myself, although the other evening, I did think about slamming my finger in a door. And that brings me to my point, I am self harming.
What I am doing is whenever I make what I call a ‘stupid mistake,’ I respond by punching myself in the head. My logic being I did something stupid, I deserve a punch. When I’m typing on the computer, I slap my hand when I make too many typing mistakes. As for the finger in the door thought, I wanted to do that because I opened a spam email when I wanted to delete it. On the grand scale of things, I know that this isn’t serious to most people nor is it life threatening. However, under the definition, what I am doing is self harm.
Now you may be asking, “Why don’t you just not punch yourself in the head?” I wish it was that easy. The punches to the head usually come from out of nowhere, I’m not actually thinking of doing it, it comes as a reaction from the perceived stupid mistake I just made. What adds more fuel to the fire is that my Asperger’s mind is overloaded because of my mistake and it getting in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish. Therefore, any inward voice telling me not to punch myself is muted. I just simply am not thinking rationally at that second due to mental overload.
Naturally, I want to stop this behaviour, especially as there has been a sharp increase in the number of occurrences in the past year. Some might say I am being ridiculous here but I can’t help thinking that if I continue to self harm in this manner for more years, I will eventually end up like Muhammad Ali. That might be the far extreme but what I do know is that this self-harming isn’t good for me and I need to stop it. Saying just don’t do it doesn’t work. I need some other types of advice to get me to stop.
Shameless plug for “He Was Weird:” When writing the story, I did toy with the idea of making Mark a self-harmer but it didn’t fit into the story. Besides, I didn’t self harm that much when I was younger. Furthermore, in the reality of the time, if Mark did self harm in the story, his bullies would have tormented him more so they could watch him do it.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537212231&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
In respect to my previous post and yesterday being Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, I thought these lyrics would be appropriate.
Ain’t no way to take a blow
When every cheek’s been turned.
I can’t show another side
When every side’s been burned.
I’m helpless, can’t fight a raging heart
And I got no use for being torn apart.
And the world seems to have no use for me
Cause you’re given nothing and nothing isn’t free.