I’m afraid I’m really failing in this endeavour and this blogpost is merely to keep me honest about that failure. The weekly shop is the seemingly insurmountable enemy. Perishables come in plastic boxes that take up huge volume in the rubbish (Our bin is not separated, hence am concentrating on reduce and re-use.) My hopes of attracting bees to superpollinator plants have fallen foul of the difficulty of cultivating such plants outside right into marine air. I’ve even slipped back with the fizzy drinks, rather than pursuing the option of getting diet coke style flavours for the soda stream, which would bring all the household on board with using it.
We have phased out the plastic milk cartons, which is good (though the cardboard replacements have Tetra Pak) but I really want to see a reduction in the throughput of rubbish, especially when most of it is wildlife-killing plastic.
I have followed the Cork Greens facebook page and I have made improvements in other domestic areas. But it’s really not enough. I need to push through with the philosophy of going to the butcher counter for meat so it’s not wrapped in plastic, getting plants outside, and continuing the conscious decision not to buy plastic bottles when eating out.
It’s easy to despair and reckon my actions will make no difference anyway; pitiable as they are, they’re still not followed by lots of other people and so are useless. Not to mention the behaviour of farmers setting fires and burning wildlife alive, without punishment or penalty. But the feeling of powerlessness at this world of excess isn’t good either. For my own mental health I need to continue to engage, even if it is only to self-chastise at my ongoing failure to help nature at all.
A week ago I wrote a blog post about self care in the event of a depressive spell and now I wish to update it in light of a semantic error I realise might actually be inhibiting for folk with depression. The error in Step 4 was when I recommended getting on the bike. Apart from using patronising wording – “get on your bike” has contemptuous overtones in British slang, though I didn’t intend them – the act of getting on a bicycle is rarely or ever a one step event. First you have to get the bike out of the shed, where it is falling into disrepair behind other bikes, Dad’s garden shears and a lawnmower that’s been out of commission since 1974. Then you may well have to pump up the tyres, especially if you have not used it in a few weeks, which is very likely if you are currently experiencing depression. Then you have to put on proper gear to cycle a bike (particularly if you are a man and want to cycle in any sort of comfort) and you have to remember to bring a bottle of water. And if you’re in any sort of city, particularly Dublin, then you have to deal with pedestrians who hate you and buses who would eat you up and drivers who don’t seem to get the concept of you changing lanes. Honestly it would make you want to curl up in a ball at the thought of it and hide.
My error was to condense the act of “getting on the bike” into one step when in fact it was many steps. The IT head in me spotted this. It’s the same irritating device I find in recipe books where they put, “one onion, finely chopped”. That is not an ingredient. That is part of the method put in the wrong damn place.
My apologies to all depressed folks who for valid reasons have not “got on their bikes” and will not be any time soon.
On the plus side, my reading at Fiction at the Friary went really well – sold my entire box of White Feathers and got lots of encouraging feedback on social media. Once again, I can recommend this event for anyone visiting Cork – Danielle, Madeleine and Friary pub proprietor Mike, as well as Ciaran on sound, are wonderful and welcoming folk.
But first read –
0. Depression is a serious, biochemical disorder that needs both a pharmaceutical and therapeutic response. Nothing here can even start to substitute for a GP appointment and anti-depressants are important for stabilising the condition. If you are experiencing suicidal or self-harming thoughts, contact the Samaritans or Pieta House immediately.
OK, so now that’s out of the way, here are some quick ways of administering self-care that might help with a depressive spell if you are in a hurry and can’t wait for meds to kick in. Your mileage may vary. Continue reading “Seven Immediate Self-Care Things to Do During a Depressive Spell”
For all who will be in or around Cork City on the May Bank Holiday weekend, and would like to spice up their break with a bit of literature, craic, pints and jellybeans in jars:
I will be the featured reader at the next Fiction at the Friary monthly fiction event on North Mall in Cork at 3pm on above date. I’ll be reading from White Feathers (and WIP if there is interest.) There will be copies of the novel for sale for €10, which is a nice discount from the retail price 🙂
Fiction at the Friary (go here for facebook page and calendar of events) was started in January by acclaimed short story writers Madeleine d’Arcy and Danielle McLaughlin and has been packing out the Friary bar on Cork’s North Mall since then. Guest writers featured so far are William Wall, Eimear Ryan and Danny Denton. A open mic also features as well as writing sprints and the aforementioned jellybeans in jars.
The Friary bar is about a 25 min walk from Cork train station, staying on the north bank of the river. It’s a lovely walk.
Hope to see you there!
Well quick update as per my last post. I bought the Soda Stream as per advice from Headstuff as part of the War on Plastic. It was like time travelling back to my childhood. It’s handy in that you don’t need to plug it in anywhere and five good presses of the button and you have fizzy water. If it’s tap water there will be an aftertaste but you can avoid that by getting a filter for your water if you so wish. Unfortunately I ruined my lo-plastic ideal by inadvertently purchasing a bottle of dilute fruit cordial. Ok, it’s LESS plastic but still not ideal.
Also I will not have buy-in from all members of the household until I find a diet coke flavour 🙂
Next on the list: check out the local farmer’s market for purchasing vegetables and look into using shower gels and cleaning products that do not use plastic e.g. Lush. Also I think there is a new milkman service. We live in an apartment so not sure if that will work but checking it out.
This has not got much to do with writing or books but has been increasingly on my mind the last few years. It has become evident that the presence of humanity and the maintenance of our throwaway global culture has wreaked disaster on the world we depend on. Every battle to save nature and wildlife, or conserve resources, is blocked and frustrated and battled.
Along with others, I am in my own small way part of that problem. My first world life is an imposition on the environment. I use plastics and drive a car and the electricity I use is powered by the fossil fuel which environmentalists and scientists are urging us to keep in the ground. I consume the foodstuffs which are intensively farmed at an expense to hedgerows and wildlife. I am a bystander – worse, an active user – while species are being destroyed and lands gouged out because we want convenience, now, always.
I am not a revolutionary and I will never be “green enough”. I lack the sheer guts of Ellie O’Byrne, who along with her family, went entirely plastic free for a month. (I think it says something when you read how difficult the system made it for her to do that.) If I try I will only depress myself with failure, as when I was at college and tried to change my personality to make myself more reserved and interesting to people. (Note: that doesn’t work unless you don’t care what people think.)
What I will try and do is small, local things – one every fortnight – to improve my impact and interactions with nature. I know it is hopeless against the behemoth of The Economy, which we are all supposed to worship. After reading the Headstuff article on reducing plastics (warning – starts with a lot of info about the plastics in the sea which may trigger depression on reading) my first action will be to purchase a Soda Stream as we consume a lot of fizzy drinks and it would cut down on a major source of plastic. I undertake to do that within twenty four hours of this post.
I am not by any means “virtue signalling” – I am very unvirtuous in this regard. I fall short in every way. I’m just hoping that if I say what I’m doing it might spark the idea in others. I will try and blog every fortnight about a thing I have done as it helps accountability. I will do it during Lent, where I have established a custom of abstaining from social media, but not yet sure if I will blog during that time.