Depression isn’t cured, and it won’t just go away…

Recently I’ve been told I don’t seem like myself, that they want the old Gemma back, that I need to smile more.

They’re right I don’t seem like myself, that’s because I’m not myself, my inner self is retreating to a place in the dark where i don’t have to talk to anyone and I don’t have to share my thoughts. I feel like I’m trapped in a place where no one gives a damn about me, how I feel or what kind of human being I am.The ‘old Gemma’ is not someone who has decided to go on holiday, she’s still here standing in front of you, she just has a lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts running through her head. She is lost and needs your help not your abrasion. She doesn’t want to work with you, for you, anymore because the thought of coming to work each day crushes her soul and makes her question whether she needs to breathe.

When a place makes you feel like you cannot do anything right and that you are under performing when in actual fact you are one of the best they have you need to get the hell out. When a place does not appreciate your personality or your individuality, you need to get the hell out. When a place is more concerned about figures on a spreadsheet than the well being of their own employees, you need to get the hell out.

I am made to feel small. I am made to feel worthless. I am made to feel like I do not belong. I do not appreciate their attitude. This isn’t just a dislike of work, a feeling of despair because I can’t spend the day lounging around and doing nothing, this is a feeling of utter utter dejection and worthlessness.

I feel the need to say this because as someone who has previously been in charge, and have had employees of my own, I do not understand why someone can be so careless with their words. As a person of authority you are supposed to be the person they trust the most and who they come to with their problems and anxiety. When not one but five employees feel the same way and want to leave you know you have failed in your role as leader.

To successfully lead you must

1 – Have the ability to listen to those below you and take on board their feedback.

2 – Demand respect but also hold the respect of those you govern.

3 – Be able to empathize.

4 – Understand the needs of those around you.

5 – Be accepting.

The company I work for do not adhere to this list, they do not care about their employees because if they did then they would enter into a contract of trust with those around them, they would understand that in order to move forward they must first take a step back.

Depression is not a subject which should be taken lightly as it is a serious problem that can hinder a person’s life and impact those around them. I have suffered with it for many years and although there are times, glorious pockets of sunshine in an otherwise dismal world, where i feel like everything will be okay, eventually it crawls back into my mind and consumes me. I find it truly disturbing that even in this time, when everyone is at least acutely aware of this horrific mental ailment, that all managers and supervisors do not have sufficient training to be able to correctly handle a person in need. The fact that I am told to just ‘pretend I’m okay’ or that I ‘need to just put it out of my mind’ is offensive. I cannot switch it off like a light switch, I can’t put it away to deal with at a later date and I am most certainly not putting it on to avoid work. My job is focused solely on reaching targets, a ridiculous and unrealistic amount of targets each day and if said targets are not met they put an incredible amount of pressure on us to push customers into spending more. Being told your efforts are not good enough on a daily basis makes you feel bad about yourself, it makes you question your ability and when you have a mental illness it can seriously affect your health. This is something I have discovered recently, and the fact that the mere thought of going to work and knowing that I’m going to be told the same thing over and over again makes me feel physically sick is an indication that things need to change.

Mental illnesses should not be pushed under the carpet by incompetent managers who are incapable of comprehending the extent of your condition. They don’t go away by themselves and are in fact hindered by ignorant humans thinking nothing but targets.

I understand that targets are important however when they take over everything and the rest is irrelevant then there is something seriously wrong. My condition makes me vulnerable, it makes me unstable and it makes me unpredictable. I am not the only person who is stuck in this place between darkness and illumination, there are many who follow me down this broken path and the longer it takes for people to understand and alter their opinions and priorities then the worse the situation will get.

I refuse to apologise for things I cannot control but I want them to apologize because there is no reason to belittle a human being, and there is no excuse for this type of behavior in the workplace.

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The Lord of theRings – Book review

WARNING! SPOILERS

The Lord of the Rings is timeless, it is a story of epic proportions which can transport you to another world and can appeal to any age group – just as long as you’re willing to settle in for the ride.

In reality, this is a big book! But don’t let the size of it put you off because every page is worth it. J R R Tolkien poured his soul into this masterpiece and you can see the care and attention he dealt out in every word. From the first sentence he draws you in with a charming description of Bilbo Baggins’ adventure told to us in another story – The Hobbit -which I’m sure you are aware of. Not one hobbit’s opinion is left to the imagination, you meet several lesser characters in the first few pages who have their own ideas about the events from Bilbo’s adventure which happened about 60 years before the start of the book, and already have their suspicions that young master Frodo Baggins, the protagonist in this tale, may already be following in his uncle’s very odd, hairy, footsteps.

After much description of the lands and main characters we are introduced to a few more including the loyal Samwise Gamgee and the mysterious Gandalf. As the journey begins we meet more vital characters and begin an expedition filled with turmoil and strife.

The level of detail in these books is unrivalled to anything I have read myself, the author ensuring that every place visited and every object seen is put wholly inside the readers imagination. Some may find the vast descriptions tedious and unnecessary but it really adds to the story and makes you feel everything just that little bit more. The movies, made famous by Peter Jackson in the early 2000’s, are extremely close to what Tolkien envisioned. There are obvious changes with certain plots and sequences, such as the lack of Tom Bombadil – a bizarre sort of fellow who sings far too much in the forest on the outskirts of the shire – and a few small disasters the hobbits fall into very early on but for the most part Jackson must be applauded for his beautiful version of this unique book.

I will admit there are parts of the book, during the fellowship of the ring in particular, which I feel did not need to be as long as they were. The council of Elrond, although it does cover a lot of backstory and history you wouldn’t know otherwise, is an extremely difficult chapter to read. Some of the information perhaps would have been better suited for the appendices rather than the main story as it does distract a little from the plot however I do understand its relevance to the situation as it informs both the readers and the characters why the ring is so important and why everyone is needed to destroy it. It is an extremely important section of the book because it is the point where the real adventure begins but I almost feel myself drifting when I reach this point. A little shorter and it would be perfect for me, but that is just personal pereferance.

The book as a whole is extremely well thought out, every twist and turn is written to perfection and the style of writing is very different to anything else in that genre. The book, which is actually split into 6 parts – two for every part of the trilogy – focuses in on different things, so let’s talk about that.

Book one follows the early adventures of the Hobbits as they try to find their way through unfamiliar lands on their own to find Rivendell and meet Elrond, the Half-elven Lord who also happens to be the father of Arwen, the lover of Aragorn or Strider as he calls himself when the hobbits first meet him in Bree. Together they make their way through various perils, almost dying a few times on the way, until they eventually reach the ancient elvish city. The first book is used mainly to set the scene, introduce us to some of the main characters and really play with their personalities. The hobbits are the characters which show the most growth through the series, literally in Merry and Pippin’s case, and it is nice to see them as innocent halflings still full of hope and simply wanting an adventure. We grow close to the characters and as their stories go on you can really feel your heartstrings being tugged at.

Book two sees the company being formed and the details of the plan are laid out. Nine companions agree to team up and journey across middle earth together in order to reach Mordor and destroy the dark Lord Sauron. From the start of this adventure there are dangers at every turning and the company lose Gandalf the Wizard in Moria, much to their displeasure and they must continue alone. After much travelling and debate about which way they should go Frodo and Sam leave the others and set out on their own. Considering how much detail is in the book as a whole, in part 2 it should perhaps be pointed out that much of the description is in places of import, there is a great deal of getting from place to place and although you are told where they are at all times I feel like it loses the itricacy – possibly because of the great distance they travel and also due to the amount of characters being dealt with. If every character had a moment to describe what was around them we would never reach the end of the book and more important plot points could easily be missed.

In book three we follow the adventures of the Hobbits Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peragrin Took who have been kidnapped by orcs, and the three musketeers – Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas – as they try to get them back. We run into some old, and unexpected, friends and make some new ones who fight alongside our heroes to stop the oncoming storm. This book takes us all the way to the Return of the King but before we are allowed to continue we are pulled all the way back to the start from the point where Frodo and Sam left. The separation of the characters really adds to the feeling of loneliness and fear, no characters know what is happening elsewhere and it adds a nice dynamic to have no inclination of the doings of others because it puts you on edge and helps you to sympathise, a decision well made.

For book four we follow Frodo and Sam who we have not heard from in some time. They of course meet the rather unsavoury character of Smeagol, or as he is more commonly known, Gollum. He has been referred to on several occasions before now as he has spent a fair amount of time tracking the company but this is the first time we meet him properly. He leads the hobbits right up to the walls of Mordor, all while plotting to take the ring for himself, and even manages to get them into the country before his downfall and the end of The Two Towers. Much of their story takes place in dark holes and hiding places as the enemy wait nearby. You can feel their frustration and even when they end up falling into the hands of Gondor you hold your breath in anticipation of what may come next.

The start of book 5 leads us once again into the lands of Rohan and Gondor as the stories merge together and lead into the final stages. In a way you get 4 or 5 different stories all leading in the same direction. We see different realms and different stories unfold until which reach the final stage of the journey. It is very cleverly written as you are unsure which path you prefer or what will happen next, when it switches characters you find yourself wanting more so you read on and become engrossed. I applaud thee Mr Tolkien, you know how it’s done!

Book six. The end of the dark lord, almost the end of the hobbits, the end of all the wars with evil and when they finally get home the scouring of the shire. This last section of the book is something which is sadly left out of the films and is a really interesting piece to read. The victorious hobbits return home to find their beloved town in flames. Sauruman, who dies in the films early on, travels from Isengard and takes the shire for his own – hiring the notorious Sackville-bagginses as his minions of destruction. We watch as the hobbits fight for their home and win once more against this villain before they settle down in peace and eventually travel out to the Grey Havens. It’s a true “happily ever after” moment which is also filled with sadness and regret from several characters and we say farewell to a book cherished by so many around the world.

The story is impeccable, the characters are vast and it is impossible to put it down once you start. I understand why people struggle to read the book and don’t like this very in-depth style of writing, however I cannot fault Tolkien on his masterpiece because there is so much thought and history that goes into every page I cannot help but fall in love with his imagination. I don’t think I will ever read a book with this level of intrigue and exploration, and for that reason I will continue reading it every year until I die.

 

Escape to another reality

I spend a lot of my time pretending not to exist. I don’t enjoy reality most of the time. Simply existing to go to work, so I can make money to pay for my rent and my bills is boring and it’s pointless! And half the time I’m not even at home because I’m always at work…I feel like I’m wasting my life. I’m not taking risks, going on adventures or trying new things because I’m too busy trying to just make it through the day. I’m tired all the time, I don’t see most of my family and any time off I have I don’t tend to do anything because I’m too busy trying to recover from my week. Now don’t get me wrong there are very large parts of my life that I adore, like my boyfriend, long walks in the country with the dog, looking up into the night sky and seeing a million stars shining down at me (something that growing up in a city I never fully appreciated before). But I still feel trapped in an existence that isn’t yet making an impact on the world.

I have to find means of escape where I can, so I turn to the other universes that exist within our own. Books, tv shows, movies and music. There are so many incredible worlds hiding in plain sight on my bookshelf. I can delve deep into the fantasy universe created by Tolkien – fight dragons, kill orcs or destroy the one ring – I can fight dark wizards with J K Rowling, solve crimes with Sherlock Holmes and enter hidden tombs and caverns to discover history which has been a mystery until now. I can be anywhere and anyone, I can create magic with just a few pages in a book.

At university I actually wrote a piece of theatre called Alice in Disneyland which was all about escapism into the world of books. I am completely fascinated by them and I think I might turn my short piece of theatre into a short film at some point because I personally did myself proud with it and believe it speaks about issues deep within ourselves. I venture deep into my own imagination and also the imaginations of authors all over the world who have dared to let themselves escape from everyday life and live in a world completely of their own making. It was received very well because people could relate to it, no one really wants to be stuck here in this life, we all want something more.

I found a fantastic quote by W Somerset the other day on the subject which says

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life”

and I think it’s beautiful. Through fiction and pretence you can hide from anything, you can be transported – even if it is just for a little while – into a place where your problems don’t exist. Escaping from reality is one reason why I spend so much time in the theatre.

I know I’m not alone on this one too…

When I’m playing a character I don’t have to worry about something that happened to me that day, the financial problems I may have, the deaths that recently happened. I become the character, their problems are my problems, their thoughts become my own and I think that’s why I’m good at it! I escape from one life to be inside the other. It is a relief and it is a joy that a lot of people do not understand because they don’t allow themselves to step outside of the real world. Dreams exist for a reason, and I don’t mean the type you aspire for, I mean the ones in your head as you sleep at night. It’s your brain saying “go be this crazy person for a while! Let loose! Be free!!”. As an actor I let myself dream during the day too, I just perform those dreams on stage and don’t care what people think when I’m doing it because it’s fun and it’s different to when I’m at work all day selling jewellery and being miserable.

I know I always have to come back to reality, I know it’s always going to be there looming over my shoulder. I’m not naive. But it’s nice to get away, it’s nice to pretend even for just a little while that I am this other person, or that I’m with the people in my books off on an adventure in a distant land. My problems can wait until I’m done playing in my head, and I will sort them out because I don’t hide from them forever, I just don’t want to deal with them all at once and I don’t want to do it today.

Reading books, writing books and performing on stage are the things I hold most dear. They give me a chance to develop myself into a better person with a fuller understanding of the world, the people in it and even in some cases incredibly detailed folk lore meaning I could probably kill a demon if I needed to. You can learn a thousand things from a story, even the ones you wouldn’t expect, about loyalty and trust and friendship and morals. All stories come from somewhere, so embrace everything they’ve got! Run into them and be free!

Sometimes you just need to escape from the things that are getting you down and live in another world. Even an hour outside of your life can make you feel better and change your perspectives.

I do it all the time, maybe you should give it a try.

 

You can’t win a game that doesn’t exist…

Life is not a game and we are not pieces set to move a certain amount of spaces each time someone rolls a dice. We cannot win and we cannot lose. We make decisions and we move around the world together walking side by side. Sometimes we feel as though it’s game over and sometimes it does feel like the fates are not on our side but it’s all nonsense. It’s just a fairy tale, a fiction created in our minds to scare us.

Humans are very good at making things seem like a competition. We always have to be better, we always have to outdo, it’s always somebody else’s fault that we’re ‘losing the game’.

Just stop.

This game is make believe and there is no one out to get you, no one is going out of their way to ruin your life, so you should stop looking at the world that way. If you stay stuck in this little world of hate and fear then that is exactly what you’re going to feel. You’ll think that everyone is against you. You’ll blame everyone else for your problems. You’ll get paranoid that people are scheming. You’ll doubt their trust and their respect. You’ll push them away and become bitter and alone. There is nothing worse than being blamed for a crime you did not commit. The one thing most people don’t seem to understand is that if you blame somebody enough, even if it is the small things, if you keep on blaming they’ll be pushed away. If you pull them down about everything they haven’t achieved, everything they could have achieved, then you will push them away. If you don’t treat the ones you profess to love with respect and care then you will push them away.

Look around. What is left? A dark room? An empty house? Echoes of memories long passed? Who did that?

Instead of blaming others, take a moment and re-evaluate.

I’ve fallen in love. Everything glitters with magic. I embrace change, I acknowledge others, I find joy in everything I do. There is no bitterness, no self-loathing, no blame, no hate.

I have found that my perspective has changed in this relationship because for the first, true, time in my life I have someone else to care for. Someone who I would do anything for and someone I want to protect. I want to hold him in my arms when he’s sad and sing lullabies when he can’t sleep, I want to shield him from hurt and help him through pain. I feel positive about this love and it brings us together, it draws us in, keeps us. Love is what we are supposed to have! But other people try to ruin it for us.

People grow jealous and hateful and they try their very hardest to pull us apart but in doing so they push us closer together and as far away from them as possible. Which leads to more hate, more words thrown blindly into the light and more pain. The blame shifts not onto the person who has taken it for years but this new person. A new enemy, allied with the original army in a civil war that never ceases. The new army is strong willed and won’t back down because passion holds them there, protection and love is stronger than hate.

But no war is ever really over is it?

People play at war all the time. Then again, this is life. You don’t play life. You live it. And though there is a war raging, no one is winning. The only way you lose is if you give up hope, or you turn to hate. Don’t push people away.

Bitterness doesn’t suit you…

The first steps to a new adventure

So here we are at the start of something new. It’s always exciting isn’t it? Starting off on an adventure. You never know where it’s going to lead you, or what you’re going to see on the way. The people who you’ll meet will be oddly spectacular in their own way and every second will mean something. The bowl of raspberries doesn’t mean anything though, that was just the picture that was being used in the example blog page I’m using as a template from my first one. I thought it was random so why not right?


I suppose I should start with an introduction.

Gemma Keane.

22 years of age.

Actor, writer, unicorn enthusiast.


I always have a thousand things to say, and up until now I have just written it down in a notebook and kept it all a secret but I think I should start exploring the world, I think I should start sharing my life. Now when I say share my life that isn’t to say I’ll be writing a diary, keeping the world in touch with every little detail – but you’ll know the songs I am singing and trees I am climbing. You’ll meet the people I do and you’ll see the world through my eyes. I’ve always thought that I see things a little bit differently to everyone else. My brain works in a different way to yours, red for me is blue for you and green for her is black in my eyes. I see the world through a sheet of multicoloured glass that makes everything simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. I’m different, and I want to invite you in to see things from my point of view. I’m fascinated by the world around me and I hope that you can be too.

It might be that no one reads this, it might be that a million people do…it doesn’t matter how many. But if you’re reading these words then you’re part of this adventure too, and there will be music and dancing, we’ll have a wonderful time.

Onwards…to adventure!