Linux and Microsoft

Windows 8.1 is still being supported, and they say will be until  January 9th, 2018. Windows 7 has, according to their site, been cut off though. A terrible decision, in my opinion, given the huge success of that OS. A lot of people have jumped ship because of Windows 10, and I don’t blame them.

Linux has a bit over 3% of the market share, according to Wiki’s graphs. Linux has been gaining ground for many years, while interest in various Windows iterations is dropping. Fewer people are using Windows as time goes by.

I use Linux (PeppermintOS 7, built on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) more than ever now; it’s my primary OS and I rarely go near Windows. Thanks to privacy and glaring security concerns, I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe using Windows anymore, despite having used and loved them since Windows 3.1 at primary school. Linux has opened my eyes to a new way, ‘though it wasn’t an easy journey.

I don’t like the way Microsoft conducts their business and I don’t think they care about the customers at all, only money. I find them deceptive, manipulative, and underhanded.

Linux, however, is open source; it’s all about sharing, creativity, and freedom. There’s even a Hannah Montana distribution; ridiculous? Sure, but wonderful that someone was able to create that and freely share it. At least if you don’t like a developer of your chosen distribution, you can jump to another; it’s not like you’re short of options.

That said, I am, or at least was a gamer. I still dabble. I’d need Windows for gaming. Linux does support games, and I do have Steam on it, but the graphical performance in many games seems terrible or lackluster in comparison, at least in my experience.

I have a feeling I’ll eventually just let go of the many Windows-only games on my Steam account and stick with Linux indefinitely. I barely game anymore anyway.

With Linux gradually gaining ground and Windows steadfastly losing it, that leaves Linux an opportunity to really step up. I think it needs some serious work in both gaming performance and a more approachable UI for those uninterested in the command line interface (Terminal) before it’ll have a shot at some day besting Windows.

I’m all for choice though, so if Microsoft is offering what you want, that’s fine. There’s a lot of Linux fans that generally make it all really personal against users of Windows and probably Mac too, but that’s not where I’m coming from here — not at all.

My issue is with Microsoft.

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It’s Time to Get Help (Again)

I’ve gotten a fair bit of support over the last few years, going to OCD support groups, taking Propranolol, getting assessed for therapy, getting CBT, living in supported housing for approximately 2 years, and getting generic E-Mail support from a local organisation.

I’ve come a long way, but recent troubles have knocked me sideways, shaking some other issues well and truly loose. My anxiety has at times been horrendous with debilitating bouts of dread. Some old OCD issues are taking center stage as well.

I need help.

A while ago, my general practitioner offered me an SSRI for my anxiety. I can’t remember the name, but supposedly it would have helped. Alongside battling the anxiety, the medication should help with my OCD and recently resurfaced depression. Bonus.

I’m going to get in touch with the organisation that got me the aforementioned CBT for my OCD, and this time I’m going to opt for group therapy. I think this could be a huge step in the right direction for me, provided I can actually get to the sessions.

I’ve also just been reminded of something else: there’s a local support group for people with mental health problems. I tried going there before, to their more public meeting, but nobody showed up and I kinda lost momentum after that; it was incredibly difficult!

My dad says he’ll go with me, so perhaps that’ll happen soon. I just need to stick at it and actually go. I have a tendency of bailing when these things come around. I guess after all that supported housing stuff ended, I kinda slowed down where the support is concerned.

If things with my love life are gonna work, given how complicated and stressful it has been and will be, I seriously need the extra support. I don’t think I can cope with it otherwise, as the past has shown.

God, I hope this works.

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Mind the Supported Housing #9

It’s been a fun ride, but this will be the last entry within this section, because I am now finally no longer in supported housing, although I am still technically getting help from my support worker for 4-6 weeks after which I’ll move onto another supportive organisation for up to 2 years.

My current support worker is a lovely woman who does a fab job at making sure I’ve got things in check. I ran into issues with my flatmate who was, once again, messy and discourteous, but she, like everyone before her, is a thing of the past.

All hell broke loose when I suddenly got a call early on the 17th (my lucky number, as it so happens!) from a local Social Housing Provider who told me a place was available: a 1-bedroom flat in a town mostly unfamiliar to me. I was excited, having eagerly and anxiously awaited this moment for almost 2 years—my time finally arrived.

Although things haven’t been a cakewalk, they’ve gone surprisingly well, all things considered. My father has been fantastic in helping me get the carpets down and furniture moved; not sure what I would’ve done without him! My support worker was of course essential, but mostly on the paperwork side.

For anyone who has been reading these entries, I really am grateful that someone has taken the time to follow me on this journey. It’s been fun, arduous, and educational, but now is the time to move onto the next chapter!

If you would like to follow me into independent living, to see me crumble or succeed, then stay tuned and see what comes up!

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Depressive Thoughts

I think it’s important to identify when you’re having depressive thoughts. What do I mean by that? Well, those thoughts one with depression might typically have, such as “I’m useless,” or “I’m worthless,” or “I’m a horrible person,” and so on. I’ve been having a lot of these over the last few days.

It’s OK, because I can’t be strong all the time, right? Well, yeah, but what if this is me really declining? My anxiety issues went progressively nutty for ages, then the OCD went on overdrive making me ill in the process, and now my depression is really ramping up a notch. I don’t like where this is going.

I recognise my decline, but has that changed anything? I suppose it has. I know that if I let myself slip further into this crap, I’ll be even more miserable, and that will also affect those around me, particularly my girlfriend; she has enough on her plate as it is.

I feel selfish. How dare I have problems! In all reality, I can’t help that I’m fucked up; I never asked for this. Still, that said, I feel like I’m being selfish and weak. I’m supposed to be strong. When I met my bit of stuff I was strong, I was fairly focused, and things were looking up! Now? Well, I’m anxious, depressed, withdrawn, disconnected, and really hating myself; not exactly a fantastic catch.

I’m taken over with thoughts that I’m not enough, I’m worthless, that she’s too good for me, that I don’t deserve her, that I’m holding her back, that I’m going nowhere, that I’m a failure, and so on. I hate it. I don’t need these thoughts. What happened to the positivity and strength I had before?

While I can’t give you logical, rational reasons why I’m a such stand-up guy (probably because I’m sat down) I can tell you that I’m going at least somewhere.

I went to an interview-like meeting today in which I saw a guy who’s with Mind. It was interesting, but I was a tad thrown off by his attire which wasn’t exactly formal and professional. The chap was probably dressed more casually than I. That said, maybe they do that to appeal more to people; to make people more comfortable.

I actually felt less at ease with the lack of formality; I’m weird like that. When you have to actually ask someone who’s standing in-front of you waiting, “do you work here?” then perhaps something is amiss.

If you dunno who Mind is, it’s Oxfordshire Mind, a charity-driven organisation that deal with various areas of mental health, within the Oxfordshire area of England; I’ve been in supported housing through them for almost 2 years, which you can read about on this blog, under the Supported Housing category.

I’m able to go to a support group so hopefully that’ll help, or just be awkward and stressful. I’m excited, but also anxious. I’m waiting for a course to start up that is for dealing with emotions. Sounds a bit silly, at least to me, but could very well be handy.

I just hope I can get myself back on the upswing before I go totally bonkers.

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Mind the Supported Housing #8

I am so sick of supported housing. I’m no longer being all that “supported” and I feel as though I’m being treated like a non-person.

My support worker is becoming almost entirely useless and it’s really pissing me off. Two weeks ago she missed an appointment for our support session that we had previously made.

Via text, we rescheduled for Tuesday, last week, and she was a no-show for that too! I text my support worker a couple of times and got absolutely nothing back from her until just now.

My current and previous support worker came through into the house, opening the front door with a key, without bothering to wait for me to get dressed and open the door—I was sleeping, as it was 10am and I went to sleep at 4am—with a potential new flatmate, who just so happens to be a female; I didn’t even think that was allowed.

I looked at my phone once they left and noticed that my support worker did text me this morning, a little before they had come around. She knows full well that my sleep isn’t fantastic and that I would be asleep at that time, so the very text telling me she was coming over at 10:30am today was utterly pointless.

You don’t spring this crap on a normal person, let alone someone with mental health issues; it’s just out of order. They should all know better. I’m so fed up of being treated like how I feel is redundant. I wouldn’t treat someone normal like this, let alone in a professional setting!

The text I got from my support worker this morning started with an apology followed by an excuse. The woman said the reason for her absence was because she has been off and has “only just come back in.” She couldn’t tell me this beforehand? Or at the very least have someone else keep me informed.

She continued the text by berating herself, saying, “Useless person!” Yeah, because that’s professional, and totally makes up for everything. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her?

On the bright side, she also mentioned seeing the council to discuss my nomination in order to get the merry hell out of here; I guess that’s something.

I particularly like the “thanks” at the end of the text, which really just rubs it in. What, you’re welcome for treating me like a moron? Cheers! Spot on. What-ho. Tralala.

Since I didn’t want to make a bad impression with the potential new flatmate, I couldn’t really have a go at my support worker there and then. I sent her a text when they left, once I got hers. I told her the score, ending with, “I might be disabled, but I’m a person with thoughts and feelings just like you.”

I’m not happy, but with any luck, I will be out of here soon and able to wash my hands of these people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the assist in a difficult time in my life, but that doesn’t mean I should accept being treated this way.

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Mind the Supported Housing #7

I finally saw my support worker today; first time since a little before Christmas. I made it super clear that I wanted out of this supported housing malarky; it’s great ‘n’ all, but I’m just done now! I want to get this show on the road—I’m ready to go forward.

The woman broke protocol and did a health and safety check on her own. Ordinarily, there should be 2 people for safety reasons. I suppose they finally realise I’m not a nut-job and that she’s perfectly safe. Even so, protocol is set in place for a reason. I may not be a psychopath, but what about the next guy?

I told my support worker about my recent romantic interest and asked her for some information regarding the law with someone coming in from abroad and visiting as well as later living here with me; she took a note of that and said she’d chase that information up for me. She thought it was sweet and seemed quite optimistic, even mentioning us getting married one day in the not-too-distant future; I was quite surprised at that! Everyone seems so unrealistically optimistic.

I let my support worker know that lately my mood has been declining at night, despite waking up and being quite chipper. She asked if it’s perhaps because I’m not as busy at night, but I said I’m more busy at night.

Conversely, I talk to RB (what I’ll call my romantic interest, as it were) at night, so maybe I’m not keeping all that busy. I guess that leaves my mind open to think crap; could be an issue? Perhaps I need to be more mindful of my needing space to keep my mind busy and distracted.

I’ve got some paperwork regarding the two Mind courses I’ll be attending soon. I’m nervous but excited. One is for coping with strong emotions, and the other is for coping with anxiety; could be interesting. Might be a chance to meet some people and perhaps make a friend or two.

My support worker told me she’s trying to sort out an interview with someone to ascertain what kind of place would be suitable for me, then I’ll simply need to wait for a place to come up! After that, things get hectic for a while. Things may well be finally moving ahead into the great unknown.

I’m feeling stronger and more confident, despite the wobbly moments I’ve been having, which, if I’m honest, are mostly regarding RB and us. Although we’re not openly declaring that we’re in a relationship, there are plenty of aspects to it that fit such a label to an absolute T, and as such, it can be stressful.

A friend I haven’t seen in person for a long time would like to meet up in my town and hang out, so that could be fun. We get along well, but communication can be difficult at times, so patience and understanding is worthwhile; he’s very aware of this, which makes it easier.

I’m starting to feel good, for however long that’ll last.

Last night was difficult. I was pissed off, stressed, and depressed, but I went on my exercise bike for 30 minutes and it pretty much all went away. The bath thereafter was very nice and the evening spent chatting to RB was lovely, despite the several interruptions.

I just hope I get out of Mind’s embrace soon, so I can start my life as an even more independent man. Watch out world! I’m coming for you.

Part 8 can be found via this link!

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I Can’t Weight to Lose It

Christmas is the time to stuff your face full of shite, but what if you’re paranoid how people see you and are obsessed with wanting to look a certain way, to the point at which it prevents you from going out because you’re so ashamed and anxious?

I’m not having a particularly fantastic day. I’m starting to see the damage of all the junk I’ve been eating and it doesn’t feel all that wonderful. To your average bloke, I probably sound like a woman complaining about this crap, but the fact is, there are plenty of guys who freak out about their weight as well; to be more precise, their perceptible percentage of body fat.

I used to be so thin—people would give me comments as to how thin I was. I didn’t have a great deal of muscle back then (not that I’m huge now) but I was thin! If I could only get back to that, somehow, I’d look so, so much better.

I managed to lose quite a lot of weight a while ago, as well as gaining much more muscle mass. As a 6ft male, I went from approximately 220lbs to 168lbs in under a year, and I never stepped one foot into a gym, unless you count my step-mother’s mini-gym. I worked out at home as I almost always have done, and moderated my food intake drastically. I was counting calories and logging my exercise; it was targeted, organised, and focused.

Now I can just about push myself to do a few pullups, pushups, chinups, use my “power-twister” bar, or jump on my exercise bike, but it’s not enough. All I’m doing is maintaining my weight. This is not progress—I’m stuck.

I’ve lost a big chunk of willpower, again, and it’s eating away at me. I even stopped going on those long walks that went on from an hour to almost 6 hours, through towns and villages, up and down hills; they were absolutely fantastic for me.

At some point I’m going to meet this incredible woman I’ve rambled on about lately—yes, she’s someone I’ve unfortunately so far only met on the line—I also want to look and feel good for her. I want to encourage and support her; share with her some of the strength, purpose, and optimism I’ve felt, but how can I do that properly if I’m being a moany hypocrite?

I have plenty enough knowledge and experience so I know what to do, I’m just struggling to bring myself to do it.

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Mind the Supported Housing #6

I thought I was done with this crap, but apparently Mind insist on making things difficult. A few days ago, I was called up by my support worker and told that someone would be staying with me for a couple of weeks, as per an emergency with his flat being flooded; it sucks, but fair enough.

The guy comes over, the sort that makes you think “one of those guys”, with his try-hard outfit you’d expect from a skaterboi. I persevered, especially when my support worker told my dad and me that he was only to stay for one day, after which he’s staying with his grandparents or something.

The guy left the next morning, and that was the end of that; I was relieved. I’ve been getting used to living alone and enjoying the benefits, particularly not having to worry about some other guy’s mess, and the privacy is a huge bonus.

I get woken up at approximately ten in the morning by my support worker relentlessly knocking on my front door. I sleepily get dressed, having had less than six hours sleep because I struggle at night and have been staying up late for reasons probably mentioned elsewhere. She is fully aware that I struggle in this way.

My support worker was just “passing by” and thought to quickly ask me whether the new guy left OK, whether things were alright, and that’s all I really remember because I was half asleep, anxious, and irritated for being woken up by loud banging noises echoing through the flat.

I’m having a nice late-night conversation with woman over Skype, when, midnight, someone opens the front door and the other bedroom door with the keys. I didn’t know for sure who it was; for all I knew, it could’ve been someone who got a hold of the keys and was trying to swipe stuff.

I was immediately anxious, got dressed, and went through to see who it was. Although I never saw the person, I could smell the cigarette smoke and figured it was probably just the same guy, and that my support worker screwed up again—ding, ding, ding!

I told my dad the next morning; he was worried and called a nearby Mind office. I texted my support worker, and later got a call from another woman, also a support worker, who apologised and explained that it isn’t what they would “usually do” but given the circumstance, it’s only going to be temporary.

I thought, OK, so the guy has, up until now, been clean and relatively quiet, despite waking me up twice at quarter-to-seven in the morning, which, for me, is insanely early.

He left the hall light and kitchen light on for hours last night. I left the lights be thinking he was maybe in the kitchen, but later on I went through and he wasn’t there. I turned the lights off—he must’ve fallen asleep.

In the kitchen? Crumbs over the cooker top, a dirty, empty tin on the worktop by the bin, as opposed to simply in the sodding bin, and a used bowl and glass left in the sink. Am I meant to clean up his mess? Disrespectful. He has to clean up after himself just as I do—I’m not his daddy.

I sent my support worker a text earlier, ‘though I expect it’ll go largely unnoticed: “he left mess last night, then buggered off out this morning,” then I explained what he left behind, and continued, “am I to clean up after him?” No reply yet, but we’ll see.

I’m sick of supported housing, I’m sick of flatmates, and I sincerely miss having an actual home. I’m getting heart-palpitations just typing this out.

Part 7 can be found via this link!

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Mind the Supported Housing #5

I’ve just had a health and safety (H&S) check.

Firstly, at least here, two support workers need to be present for a H&S check, although I’m not sure why. Initially, I thought it was because of their own safety, but now I’m not sure as I’ve had many support sessions over here with just my support worker alone.

The requirement of two support workers means that there’s a chance H&S checks will be postponed until two workers are free for the check. Although nothing major, it’s worth noting that this can result in us been given the run-around, which can be incredibly frustrating.

A day or two prior to the H&S check, each tenant receives a letter through the post informing them of the upcoming check. Sometimes the letter comes with a small list of things for which they will be looking, such as hoovered floors, cleaned appliances, and emptied bins.

All rooms are checked, but it’s a very quick look, especially where the bedrooms are concerned. I used to worry that the workers would rifle through my stuff, but nope, not so.

The electric and gas meters are noted down, no doubt to ensure we’re not doing something elaborate which costs them a fortune. They may ask us to get the meter values ourselves, ready to hand to them when they come for the check.

The workers do have spare keys to access your property and the bedrooms, but they claim that they prefer the tenant(s) to be present to let them in and answer any questions, such as if everything is working as it should.

It is a scary idea that someone has keys to your private belongings other than yourself, but it is typically for emergencies. Although it’s common that a landlord will have a spare set of keys for emergencies and I presume legal reasons, it can be a scary concept for someone with mental health problems.

The checks usually take place between midday and five o’clock in the afternoon. The times at which they will perform the check seem to be only on their terms, which can be quite an issue with those who struggle with sleep, as I do.

The support workers I’ve been involved with have been, for the most part, friendly, understanding, and patient, as I believe they should be, especially when dealing with people who can be potentially very unwell.

The check is meant to take place every month, but I have known them to be skipped or greatly postponed, but that has only happened at the place I’m at now.

As far as I know, the office, and the houses or flats under which it supports and maintains, is for those who’re more independent and generally doing well, so perhaps that has something to do with their apparent lack of concern in contrast to the previous place.

All in all, the H&S checks are not too invasive, and they, at least for me, have been taken respectfully and to ensure that we and the household are OK. Obviously maintaining a household is an important part of independent living, so it’s good that they ensure we are on top of that, and if we’re not, they would offer us help.

Part 6 can be found via this link!

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Mind the Supported Housing #4

I had hoped to get part 4 done sooner, but I ended up staying over at a friend’s house. I got back a few hours ago and have been chillaxing, but now I’ve got some epic dubstep tunes thumping through my ear-holes, so allow me to bore your brain with my experience drill—too much?

Side note: cats are incredible healers. Dogs too, I should imagine. The aforementioned friend has a gorgeous kitten; he’s often stuck in play mode, swatting your face and chewing on your flesh, but when he’s not? He’s this super-sappy, adorable little beast of insane fluffiness.

I’ll get back on topic.

Something that has started to get to me probably was inevitable: I’m starting to wish I could just be moved on already. Supported housing has been mentally, emotionally, and even physically challenging and draining, but now I feel it’s coming to a close; I can sense the end.

There’s a looming interview of sorts with a woman who’ll decide my fate, at least I think that’s the purpose of the assessment. The woman will ask whether I pay my bills and keep the house tidy—easy.

Do I pay my bills? You bet. Direct debit kicks bum and I’ll continue to direct all my debits right to whomever needs dat cheddar, yo!

I’m so tired.

Keeping the place tidy isn’t too difficult. I’m a fairly house-proud sort of guy, but that doesn’t mean to say I’ve always got a feather duster in one hand and a hand-held vacuum in the other—I’m all about the hoover.

I do the housework once a week, typically on Wednesdays, which is a day my last flatmate got me into; sadly, he’s pretty much moved out, now. I take out and empty the bins, clean the kitchen worktops, clean the toilet, the bath, and so the very ordinary list goes on. I’m going to make for a wonderful housewife some day! I should probably stop making that joke; political correctness ‘n’ all.

It was nice having a friend around, or at least he felt like a friend, but I honestly think he gives less monkeys than I initially suspected, so I’m not quite sure what to think about that—I’m possibly just over-thinking and he’s merely busy dealing with the move; fair assessment?

Seeing how much my last flatmate is struggling to get himself settled in his new place, I’m left wondering how much I’m going to struggle. My dad’s back is far from what it used to be and I have no clue how to fit carpets; that’s just one potential problem.

I’m not sure how much I’m going to end up spending getting everything together and buying the white goods, but all I can say for sure is that I’m so pleased I started obsessively saving some years ago!

I don’t and probably shouldn’t drive, so that’s a problem, but luckily my dad does, so he’ll gladly help me move stuff as he has done twice already. I feel bad, at the age of 29, to be asking my dad to help me move furniture yet again.

Maybe it’s normal to need so much help at a time like this, and perhaps it’s expected of a man in my situation, but I’m trying to be independent! I’d rather not lean on my dad so much; he’s already done so much for me over the years.

Part 5 can be found via this link!

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