Working from home

A couple of months ago my depression came back with a real bang. A proper wallop right across the bonce.

For me, depression does not just bring a deep, seemingly irremovable sadness painted across the surface of everything I enjoy and love, it also brings with it a rage. A rage pointed directly at me. Me and my actions. My failings. My thoughts. My feelings. My response to others. And on and on and on and on until it culminates in me physically harming myself.

It’s rubbish.

During this recent bout, work was becoming a mountain that not only I was physically unable to climb, but one I just couldn’t be arsed to even strap up my boots for. And that was upsetting, because I love my job. I get to play with words and ideas and it varies from day to day.

I’m also very fortunate to work with passionate, intelligent people determined to produce good work, while not stepping on others in the process. And it was this compassionate side that helped me at my worst.

My line-manager started to notice I wasn’t doing too well – I tend to wear exhaustion quite visibly under my eyes! – and asked me how things were going. I chatted and he listened and I cried and he took me seriously. Eventually we spoke to my department’s head who instantly said: “We’ll do whatever we can to make things easier for you at work. Shall we have a think?”

Unbelievable. Not only was I being given the opportunity to alter my working day to make things easier, I was doing it as a part of a team. During a time when thinking clearly was the hardest thing in the world, my boss was sharing the responsibility of coming up with a solution and not leaving it up to me.

The solution we came to was me working from home on Tuesdays.

It might sound like a simple thing, but I think Tuesdays have saved my life.

It was suddenly no longer just the second day of the week. It was one day a week I didn’t have to ridicule myself for not being able to peel my lead-weight limbs off my bed at 7am. A day I could have poached eggs as I read my emails. A day I didn’t have to go and have a 10-minute talk to myself in the work loos after feeling inconsolable because I didn’t like the tone I used when speaking to someone. A day I didn’t have to speak to anyone! A day when if I was struggling to complete a project I didn’t have to pretend I was fine, I could swear and shout and huff and puff. A day when I could worry about myself, without worrying about others.

Sure my depression still comes and goes and sometimes it even appears on a Wednesday or a Thursday – Tuesdays are great, but not magic – however just knowing there’s a day that I can nurture my wellbeing and be a little selfish is so, so useful.

And the only way they’ve been possible is a simple case of a handful of people at work being understanding, compassionate and human. I might never become a manager in my career but if I do, I’ve got some wonderful examples to learn from.

© Carl Burkitt 2017

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To celebrate World Mental Health Day I’m selling poems for just a ONE POUND donation to Rethink Mental Illness. It can be about ANYTHING you want, for ANYONE you like. Just ask. Email ca.burkitt@gmail.com or Tweet @CarlBurkitt.

Here are some examples I’ve done in the past to whet the whistle.

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The Wrestler – A Nine-Year-Too-Late Review

Yesterday, Tuesday 22nd August 2017, I watched The Wrestler for the countless time – nine years after it was released.

Here’s what I thought…

  • Bleak
  • Randy the Ram, The Ayatollah, Billy Bob Banjo, Mr Magnificent: This film has nailed 1980’s wrestler names
  • I will never, ever, ever have even half as good a body that 55-year-old Micky Rourke has in this film
  • Bleak
  • Micky Rourke’s Wikipedia page has a section called “Dogs”, which discusses how many dogs he has and how much he loves his dogs. It’s five paragraphs long.
  • Bleak
  • I’d always heard of the name “Necro Butcher”, but never realised it was the ridiculous chap who fights Randy the Ram in this messy hardcore match
  • Bleak
  • Todd Barry can play an absolute bellend to perfection
  • Bleak
  • I’d watch a two hour film of just Micky Rourke serving people at a deli counter
  • Oh God, the hand
  • Cesaro!
  • Bleak

© Carl Burkitt 2017

Wrestler

Chef – A Three-Year-Too-Late Review

Yesterday, Tuesday 8th August 2017, I watched Chef for the second time – three years after it was released.

Here’s what I thought…

  • John Favreau is a joy
  • John Favreau’s character has cool tattoos
  • John Favreau’s character is called Carl
  • I’m called Carl
  • Scarlett Johansson is in this film
  • Angry Dustin Hoffman is adorable
  • I might buy the soundtrack
  • Name me a poor Oliver Platt performance. GO ON!
  • John Favreau loves food and cooking so much he wrote, directed and starred in a film about food and cooking so that he could learn how to cook food to a 5 star standard. Genius. What would I do that with? Wrestling, probably. Or calligraphy. We’ve been waiting for a good calligraphy film since The Pillow Book in 1996. Haven’t seen it.
  • I think I have hair like John Favreau
  • Scarlett Johansson saying: “Carl, you’ve been miserable ever since I’ve known you” weirdly made me a little sad
  • Robert Downey Junior
  • I’ve bought the soundtrack

© Carl Burkitt 2017

Chef

Not guilty pleasures

I’ve been reading a lot about the idea of guilty pleasures recently. Specifically, how dangerous that phrase is to our self-expression.

In his blog post No More Guilty Pleasures!, Austin Kleon sums it up nicely:

“We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed ‘high’ and the ‘low.'”

As does the quote he includes from Dave Grohl:

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not fucking cool.” Don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic.’ It is cool to like Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’! Why the fuck not? Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it!”

I’m as guilty as anyone for judging what others like to do, eat, watch, wear, whatever, and I work very hard to stop and keep an open mind.

And I’m definitely more guilty at hiding what I think are my guilty pleasures, through fear of looking silly. Something I feel often leaves me feeling very low and exhausted.

Not embracing who you are because what you think other people might think of you will, in my opinion, stop, or slow you down, from reaching your full potential.

So, I thought I’d end that by sharing four things I love and don’t give a fuck if you think are stupid.

1. Peperami Hot

Peperami hot

Salty. Tangy. Meaty. Scrummy. Shove them in my big fat tummy.

The marketing department at Peparami got it spot on with their old slogan: It’s a bit of an animal. Genius. Albeit disgusting.

I don’t know what’s in it and I’m aware I probably don’t want to know what’s in it. But I love nothing more than eating them after exercise or as a post work snack. I’ve even been known to have a couple for breakfast.

I plan to go vegetarian as of January 2018 (no matter how much I love the taste of meat, I’m struggling more and more to shake the sadness I feel when doing so) therefore the rest of this year will probably be a Farewell Peperami Hot festival.

2. Professional Wrestling

Daniel Bryan

I’ve hidden this one for years, from almost everyone I know.

I love watching professional wrestling.

Be it WWE, NXT, WCPW or PROGRESS. I love it. The artistry, panto drama, genuine feats of life-threatening athleticism, narrative arcs and wholehearted nonsense. I can’t get enough of it and consume as much as possible.

Every week I listen to Chris Jericho’s podcast, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast (both the clean and the unleashed versions), Jim Ross’s podcast, the Tuesday Night Jaw podcast, Wade Keller’s podcast, Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, the Pro Wrestling Torch Livecast, Morgan Webster’s Wrestling Friends podcast and Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard.

I watch every monthly WWE pay per view event. If I’m alone and have a spare half hour I’ll scour through my £9.99 a month WWE Network subscription for a match from the past. I’ll use the same Network to watch Tuesday night’s 205 Live and Wednesday’s NXT.

I don’t have Sky Sports so don’t get to watch as much Monday Night Raw or Tuesday’s Smackdown Live as I’d like, but I read the reports the first thing I wake up the morning after and catch up on the WWE YouTube channel later that afternoon.

I also use YouTube to watch a minimum of five wrestling vlogs a day on WhatCulture Wrestling’s channel. A channel that in the last year has set up it’s on promotion, WCPW, whose events I watch as much as possible as they showcase some of the best wrestlers in Britain and around the world. The same wrestlers who also perform at PROGRESS, in my opinion the best independent promotion in England. Their shows in Balham and Tufnell Park are an absolute joy.

My cupboard currently has seven wrestling t-shirts in it, my bookshelf has multiple wrestling books and magazines on it. I’m even in a Whatsapp group with several strangers where we all predict the results of all WWE pay per views – the person with the most points after Wrestlemania gets to hold a replica Intercontinental Championship until the next year.

I’m a nerd. And I love it.

3. David Gray’s White Ladder Album

Released in 1998, I must’ve cried over 100 times listening to This Year’s Love as an unlucky-in-love teen.

Sail Away With Me is an absolute tune.

To this day I still enjoy very little more than mimicking how he says “baaaabyloooon”.

4. Love Island 2017

Love island

I work at a mental health charity. I’m surrounded by emotionally intelligent, articulate, wonderful people. I consume difficult, challenging content and stories throughout my day and meet individuals who have been through more than you could imagine. When I get home of an evening I’m often rather drained and need a switch off. A dumb down.

I’d love to say that’s the reason I enjoyed watching Love Island 2017, but if I’m honest, I just loved the trashiness of it.

If you didn’t watch it: basically, 11 straight singletons were put in a villa in Spain with the hope to find love. Over the course of seven weeks, people left and people came in with loads of horrible flirting, sexual activity and foul language taking place.

It was on six nights a week and I watched every episode. 42 episodes.

I probably wouldn’t hang out with anyone who was on that show if I met them, but I sure as hell was drawn in by all the jibberish they got up to. Seeing someone enter with the big ‘I am’ and coming on to anything that was near them, to ultimately watch them crumble under the constant emotional scrutiny was absolutely fascinating.

Applications for next year have opened. Go on, I’d love to watch you graft someone.

© Carl Burkitt 2017

Creed – An 18-Month-Too-Late Review

Yesterday, Tuesday 18th July 2017, I watched Creed for the second time – 18 months after it was released.

Here’s what I thought…

  • Adonis jut made my potential baby name list. (Sits alongside Cedric and Molly)
  • Rocky talking at a gravestone will never not make me blub
  • I don’t think I’ve ever had a Philly cheese steak
  • Angry Scouser
  • Nothing gives me more goosebumps than a Balboa speech
  • THE SHORTS!!!!!
  • I would watch Creed 2, Creed 3, Creed 4, Creed 5, Creed 6, Creed 7, Creed 8, Creed 9, Creed 10, Creed 11, Creed 12, Creed 13, Creed 14, Creed 15, Creed 16, Creed 17, Creed 18, Creed 19, Creed 20. And more, probably.

© Carl Burkitt 2017

Logan – A Four-Month-Too-Late Review

Today, Sunday 16th July 2017, I watched Logan for the first time – four months after it was released.

Here’s what I thought…

  • Hugh Jackman buff ting
  • Logan looks lovely in a long coat
  • Richard E Grant?
  • No one quite says “Fuck” like Wolverine
  • 2029 has some beautiful weather
  • Girlverine
  • Richard E Grant?
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Gorgeous woodland scenes
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Brutal
  • Richard E Grant?

© Carl Burkitt 2017

    A pirate’s life

    When I was child, I think about 10-years-old, I used to play pirates with my neighbour (also a child).

    We’d hop across the stream that ran through our street and make our way to a greeny patch surrounded by bushes and trees.

    One typical summer’s afternoon – mediocre sunshine and a belly full of grated cheese sandwiches – we completed the stream hop , grabbed a couple of sticks and began a sword fight to the death.

    My neighbour was a couple of years older than me. Despite being taller than him, it’s fair to say his advanced years and sword-fighting experience helped guide him to many, many a victory.

    I’ve always been a pretty good loser. Even to this day, if I experience a drubbing at football or get beaten to a job I interview for, I’m fairly good at brushing myself off, complimenting the victor and chalking it up as a valuable life lesson. However I have to admit, getting killed by my neighbour’s sword so often used to proper rile me up. But I never really understood why.

    Looking back now, it was a pretty simple reason. It had nothing to do with being annoyed that he might have been stronger than me, smarter than me or just a superior swordsman.

    Quite simply, I used to fancy the pants off his sister. She had absolutely cracking cheek freckles that formed a delightfully speckled runway up to her starry 10-year-old eyes.

    Her relationship with her brother was always a good one, but on this particular day there was some frostiness between them. Unhappy with the runway being rained on by tears, I was determined to fight for her honour.

    I’d be lying if I said I can remember a blow-by-blow account of our epic battle, but I can certainly remember it being an uncharacteristically back-and-forth affair.

    Taking an unfamiliar attacking stance, I managed to pepper my rival with a whole manner of shots. He got his fair share in too, but after a flurry of strikes from yours truly, an almighty thwack saw my neighbour’s sword go flying into a nearby bush. Thrilled with my victory, I flung my hands skyward in celebration.

    Unfortunately for me my neighbour’s sister wasn’t present to witness the feat, but I was excited to go and knock on her door to regale her with the news.

    Lost in a dream of how she would thank me, I was blissfully unaware my rival was rifling through the bush to retrieve his weapon. Successful in his rummage, a laugh from his mouth snapped me back to reality as he came hurtling towards me.

    With my guard well and truly down, I was unable to block one hellacious wallop to the top of my forehead. To my surprise, I crumpled to the ground as a stream of blood trickled into my 10-year-old eyes.

    It wasn’t until quite a few years later that my brother – the 16-year-old hero who stumbled across my confused body lying alone on the greeny patch – informed me that it was in fact a tent pole that met my head that day. My neighbour, confused in his panic to retrieve his stick sword and save face, just grabbed the first thing he could find. Apparently.

    I never did manage to taste victory over my foe. Well, other than the compliment from his sister about the Power Rangers plaster that nursed my fatal head wound.

    © Carl Burkitt 2017

    Pirate