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Sunday, 13 May 2018

A new plan, again: Day 14

Back from an evening of birthday drinks and sophisticated debauchery, though I myself had to make do with Old Jamaica brand ginger beer and a particularly potent packet of cheese and onion crisps. So it goes.

My head is caning from the stimulation of a night out when sober, the strain of not drinking, from a general and apparently perpetual fatigue -- but it's good to know my Uber is dropping me off at the top of my road a full hour before midnight, that I'm clear of mind, that I now have a patch of empty time to spend hunkering down with my mechanical keyboard tapping out imperfect yet beautiful words to send away into the void. I'm pleased.

Catch-ups tonight with old friends, Rachel about to begin her career as a prison officer, looking as glamorous as ever yet perhaps calmer, more secure -- Bobby J plodding along through my Grad life of a few years ago, Missy sassing it up beaming wide at the sight of Fran's dog -- and Joe, and Dale, and Dreads -- and of course birthday man Jake, working the room, planting kisses on us all, a whirling dervish at the centre of the maelstrom.

Conversation with Kirsty and Grace about how we came off our antidepressants, about finding internal balance, replacing negative bonds with healthier ones. Felt the conversation out there in the ether, ghostlike, waiting to be given form, and -- look, it's a fallacy that booze makes those conversations easier. It was easier tonight, sober. It was simple to sense the shared experiences and the anticipation on the lips and to broach those subjects and organically move through topics close to my heart. I used to be unable to discuss my mental health without a couple of litres of rum in my bloodstream, but tonight it was no big deal.

I was anxious at the start of the night, walking into a group of ripped-jeaned-hipsters, all beautiful and smooth-skinned, me realising in panic I couldn't run to my usual beers for safety. But I stood, and sat, and stayed present, and there was nothing to fear. It was just more life, more moments in which to exist.

I also noticed that I was able to hold eye-contact longer, more peacefully, with less of that frightened commotion back behind my sockets. It was pleasurable to rest in people's gazes, talking when I needed to, listening when I didn't.

There was still boredom, of course, and frustration, and a stretch where I realised all I cared about in a conversation was pulling it back round to myself, to proving how wise and tragic and special I was. But even then, as the negative thoughts were gearing up to excoriate me for how I always act that way, I found myself able to gently step back, breathe, separate from the self-loathing and let it simply run out of steam.

So that was good. All of this is difficult and weird and confusing, but it is good. I know that it is good.

Sleep now. See you tomorrow.

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