Coming clean…

Hello, I’m Wes Packer. I’m a stand-up comedian from Wales, battling depression and crippling anxiety while riding the SSRI rollercoaster.

I ‘came out’ as having a mental illness earlier this year and linked to this blog from my website: www.wespacker.com┬ábut forgot to come here to apologies for:

  1. Disappearing for so long, and
  2. Forgetting to ‘come clean’ and introduce myself properly

I made some incredible friends on Twitter and WordPress.com while writing as Black Dog Moan, some of you were literally a lifeline at certain points – the only ones I could reach out to. The anonymity just helped increase the honesty of the posts as I wasn’t ready to ‘out’ myself at the time.

So, sorry for disappearing again. I’m in recovery now, in a much better place than I was back then although I’m still struggling with anxiety and depression, like many people. I’d love to re-establish contact with some of my old Twitter/Wordpress friends and I’d love it if you’d all join me over on wespacker.com if you’d like to hear about what I’ve been up to since you last heard from me (HINT: it’s not been easy), where I’m at at the moment, and where I’m heading; or, pop over if you just fancy a laugh.

I’ll try to make it funny, honest…

Wes (BDM) x

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Latest…

In case you’re wondering why there’s such a big gap, I haven’t been arsed to write anything. I can’t think of anything to write about and, to be honest, I don’t much give a fuck. I’ve realised that spending all this time worrying about blogging and writing and podcasting and radio and shit is just wasting energy on stuff that isn’t comedy. I know that, in theory, they should all feed into each other but I don’t think I’m ready for that, yet. It all seems too big to deal with and you know what they say about breaking big problems into smaller chunks. I’m a comedian, that’s what I do, and so I’m going to concentrate on that and every else can develop as it will. I feel better already just having made that decision.

And so to health issues…

I’m feeling much, much better these days. The “bad” days are less frequent which, obviously, makes the good days (and even the “meh” days) more frequent. Maths works like that. I only saw the Occupational Therapist about four times and we agreed that I was getting stronger and should try to get out of the house more. At the time I was confident but it took more effort than I thought it would. It was effort well-spent, though, as since then I’ve done more gigs in the last three months than I did in the whole of last year, started working in coffee shops and cafes instead of at-home, and am spending more time with my family and friends than I have done in a while.

It’s not so hard. My best friends are aware of my condition – some have even opened up about their own private struggles, which is very positive – and so if things get heavy I can just make my excuses, leave, and know that the people in the room who really matter to me will understand. I’m getting much better at spotting the signs and changing the situation, taking the pressure off, even if it’s just nipping to the bathroom for five minutes to straighten my head. I’m working with a personal trainer to sort out my weight and fitness issues (I’ve been living on coffee and chain-smoking since last August) and am feeling stronger and fitter every day. What they say is correct: excercise and diet can kick the arse out of depression.

And I’m reading again! This is probably the best part of my recovery so far. I’m a very big reader and the inability to concentrate when reading was really starting to get to me. Now, I can throw myself into a good novel, learn about my condition, and research a new career (if comedy doesn’t work out) and that makes me a very happy bunny indeed.

Anyway, I have jokes to write. Sincere, heart-felt thanks to the Twitter crew – you’re support has been invaluable and is very much appreciated.

Theme Update

I thought I’d give this blog a little facelift to reflect my mood of late. I wanted to move away from the dark, gloomy theme I was using toward something lighter, more focused on the words and, well, just more pleasant.

I’ve chosen to go with Book Lite as it’s the closest I can get to Leo Babauta’s new zh2 theme on a WordPress.com hosted site. I think it looks quite simple and is much easier to read so I hope you like it.

So what’s been going on?

I noticed that my last blog post was back in September 2012 so I’d better get something up here to fill you in on what has been happening and what is about to happen. I’ll do that very soon – I promise.

bdm x

A Design for Life…

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spiderman

“He who dares, wins. That is my motto.” – Derek Trotter

I’ve always wanted a motto, a code that I could live by, something against which I could judge ever action, every decision, to ensure that I was doing The Right Thing.

I’ve read countless self-help manuals that advocated positive thinking, positive self-talk, affirmations, mantras, commandments, and precepts but have yet to find anything that really feels like me, that just…fits.

The closest (and funniest) one I came across is: never do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of your mother.

I like that but it does kind of proscribe a bunch of perfectly healthy actions that I still wouldn’t do in front of my mother – I wouldn’t make love to my wife in front of my mother, for example – and so doesn’t really work as a design for life.

I’ve been thinking about this, on and off, for years. It came to me this morning, in the shower.

My grandfather died when I was a small child. I don’t remember much about him except that he was a tall, handsome man and I loved him dearly. When I look back, all I can remember of being around him is feelings of love and of safety. I wasn’t told about his death and I wasn’t taken to the funeral. One day he was there and the next day he wasn’t and everyone was sad. I didn’t really understand what was going on – just that I missed my granddad terribly. I used to cry a lot about how much I missed him – especially at New Year, for some reason. It must have broken my mother’s heart.

I went through a series of psychotherapy sessions last year and one of the things I learned is that I am still holding on to a lot of pain from this period of my life. I still, 30-some years on, miss my grandfather a great deal. My mum has always told me what a great man he was: strong, kind, brave, gentle, generous, like all my heroes rolled into one, an almost mythical figure in my life. I think about him every day, I have a number of greying pictures of him around the house, and my mum often tells me how proud he would have been of my musical talents, being a musician himself. I’ve always held onto this. Back in my musician days, every time I walked onto the stage I would momentarily glance up and think, “watch this, gramps”, and then go and play my heart out for him. Every show I played, ever song, was to make my grandfather proud of me.

Yesterday, I was in the shower and thinking about my grandfather. It came to me as easily as breathing:

I will make my grandfather as proud of me as a comic, and as a man, as he would have been of me as a musician.

So there you go. I have a goal in life, a mission, a yardstick by which I can measure ever action, ever decision, every word and every deed. This, along with the often-cathartic writing of this blog and the wonderful, supportive people I’ve met while doing so, could be the start of my road to recovery. It certainly feels that way to me now.

I’d like to thank everyone who has commented, re-tweeted, and reached out over the past couple of days. It means so much to me, words aren’t enough.

Gramps, I won’t let you down.

bdm x