My 2018 New Year resolutions: “Plans, plans, plans… so many lovely plans”

It’s been quite an eventful year, what with the trial and my home move and my bipolar disorder playing up again (causing me to have to be hospitalised for six weeks during the summer).

What can I say? It’s been a struggle at times.

The trial, in particular, was an absolute nightmare to endure. Though I am satisfied with the resolution of that – the evil streak of piss got a sentence of 33 yearsit was absolutely harrowing to go through; no wonder I lost it months later.

I still find it hard to talk about. So do other members of my family.

But life goes on. Rather than dwelling on grief and letting anger consume me, Mum would want me to make something of my life and in order to honour her memory that’s what I intend to do – to be the good man that she always wanted me to be.

Cruelly taken, but never forgotten: my beautiful mam

“Plans, plans, plans… so many lovely plans”

One of the first things I’m going to do is get back into my training in a big way in the new year. That and the jiu-jitsu classes.

I’m also going to buy a mountain bike to help myself get fit.

As many people know, I’ve already undergone quite a big physical transformation since quitting drinking (thanks to The Sinclair Method).

But what I really want to do is challenge myself with the powerlifting even further and get stronger than I’ve ever got.

My transformation photo. The photo on the left is a picture of me in September 2014 (just over a year after I’d quit drinking thanks to The Sinclair Method) and the picture on the right is how I look now. I’ve lost something like 50lbs in body weight. Not bad going considering that – at the grand old age of 45 – it doesn’t get any easier to get back into shape.

My new goal with the training is to get up to a bench press of over 130kg, a deadlift of 200kg and a squat around 160kg by this time next year – something that I think is achievable because, although my attendance in the gym has been a bit hit and miss this year (for entirely understandable reasons), I’m already pressing well over 100kg and can currently easily squat over 120kg. My only achilles heel is my deadlift… my current one rep maximum is 150kg, but for my build I should really be able to lift much more.

Diet is the key, I think. That and challenging myself cardiovascularly in order to improve my rep range and get my body fat percentage down even further than it is now. Something that my trainer is already helping me out with with a new “fat-burner” training program that he’s given me.


As for other goals: I think that I want to make a much bigger splash with my social media work and my art in 2018.

It’s taken a while with the blog (and what’s not helped is that I had to go into a form of self-imposed exile and make my blog private whilst everything was going on with the trial in order to avoid unwanted press exposure), but now that I’m back the stats are slowly but surely getting up there and I’m starting to see results by cross-pollinating with things like YouTube, Facebook and Quora. The only thing which I don’t have is a Twitter account. But once the book gets released (Claudia thinks it’s going to be around spring next year) I’ll definitely push things further, I think.

Despite my love/hate relationship with Quora, I actually do quite well on there (becoming one of the most popular writers in the addiction section on there, believe it or not) and my pieces have recently hit the 7,500 views landmark.

The real trick, I think, is to just enjoy what you’re doing.

I always find that when I just let go,be less self-conscious and less concerned about things like stats it makes me a far better writer.

A good example of this is the fact that I seem to inject a lot more humour into my blog than I used to.

Talking of which…

…I’m definitely going to do a lot more cartoons in 2018.

People keep asking me why I haven’t done more art and the fact is, as I said before, this year has just been crazy. My head’s just been too fucked up to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

But yeah, now that I’m getting nicely settled into my new place and I’m finally getting some calmness back into my life I want to do some more stuff. Perhaps experimenting with Adobe Photoshop by doing some painted versions of some of my pencil drawings from the last year (scroll below)

 

…Actually, taking inspiration from the “anti-Christmas” theme of my last article (see HERE), I’m thinking that one idea might be to have a crack at designing a Krampus-themed Christmas card.

That would be quite a fun little art project to get in before Christmas, I think, and would quite appeal to my transgressive, Chuck Palahniuk-esque tendencies.


Anyhoo… that just about covers what I want to do in the New Year.

But what about you, dear reader? What resolutions do you have for 2018?

 

 

The Season of Stupid: My One Man War against Christmas

Heh.

I’ve been rehearsing in my head how I could write this without sounding like a complete dick and I’ve thus far not been successful.

(!)

Oh well, here goes. Deep breath. And –

– I despise Christmas.

No, I really mean it. I’m not kidding. Everybody seems like space aliens to me this time of year. It’s like looking through a weird anthropological lens watching other peoples’ behaviour. Quite uncomfortable to be around, in fact.

Why?

Because it’s like everybody’s on drugs or something and I get people doing things like trying to hug me… a forced intimacy that I don’t welcome. Especially not from the type of people who wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire the other 364 days of the year but now suddenly wanna have bum-sex with me or something.

Hahahaha. Okay, okay, okay, so maybe that’s me exaggerating a bit…

But my reflex is to shrink into myself like a tortoise whenever someone tries to do that uninvited.

The fact is, I seem to be immune to whatever strange gas gets pumped into the atmosphere every December. I don’t get the same mushy emotions as other people and – if I’m truthful – I can’t wait for the whole ordeal to be over.

I’ve been like this for a long time. Christmas just doesn’t do anything for me. In fact, my antipathy is so bad that I make a tradition of watching slasher movies and eating pizza on my own on Christmas day.

…God I really do sound like a misanthropic asshole here, don’t I? Just hateful. I’m perhaps digging myself a hole here.

But I can’t help it.

It’s not that I begrudge other people having a good time and it’s not that I’m anti-religious (hey, to each their own), it’s just, I think, more of a cognitive dissonance issue.

That is to say that, given my atheism and my own sorta materialistic-mechanistic outlook of the world, I find that that there’s far too much saccharine for little ol’ me to handle at this time of year.

So I do my hermit thing, eat pizza, watch Zombie Flesh Eaters and cheer on Al Pacino as he tells Steven Bauer how Miami is “one big pussy waiting to be fucked” in Scarface.

And that’s my 25th of December. That’s my tradition – of sorts.


Under normal circumstances I deactivate my social media at this time of year in a desperate attempt to get away from all the tinsel and saccharine on the interwebs, but this year I need to keep active on Facebook because I’ve recently become an administrator on the Your Choice, Your Recovery forum.

It’s a great forum, by the way. For anybody who struggles with alcohol (particularly anybody struggling with it at this time of year) it’s of particular interest as it has some really good resources about The Sinclair Method and has a really good, supportive community on there.

Another one worth checking out is the Options Save Lives message board. Lots of really good people on there.


On a final note, despite my recent posts (see HERE and HERE) about falling out of love with Quora, I’ve found myself back on there writing some stuff again – hey, what can I say? She’s a demanding mistress. Hahaha.

This time I couldn’t resist answering this question:

(Click on image to open link in a new tab)

I just couldn’t help myself.

The problem? Well… I worry that my enthusiasm to get the message out there and to make a stand against the misinformation, disinformation and confusion out there about TSM has the unfortunate effect of making me sound rather “ranty”… like a nutty conspiracy theorist at times.

But the fact is, this is serious and I’ve been around long enough – living, eating and breathing The Sinclair Method for nigh on five years now – to be quite sure of my facts.

The difficulty is, given how much I owe to The Sinclair Method,  trying to keep my emotions out of my prose – which isn’t easy because I do get very emotional when I think of David Sinclair.

Though I never met the man, I cherish my memories of my e-mail correspondence with him (in which he revealed himself to be an absolute sweetheart of a man with an adorably impish sense of humour) and I can’t help but feel that it was a massive injustice that he was never awarded a Nobel for his contribution to the science of addiction.

Oh well…

Anyway, I may re-edit that response on Quora. It occurs to me that I engage in a bit too much Stanton Peele-bashing (haha! my favourite hobby these days) and perhaps could do with citing some other examples.

Okay, well I have nothing else to report for now. Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

 

 

Falling out of love with Quora: Part 2

Just following on from the last post, this is something that I find that I get a good bit of on Quora:

…Questions specifically tailored as passive-aggressive insults.

(*Sigh*)

 

I get it all the time.

…I get notifications informing me that I have been asked to answer questions like “What’s it like to be a malignant narcissist” and so on and so forth – always by an anonymous questioner, naturally.

Har-de-fuckin’-har.

How imaginative.

Your comedy genius has me in awe. (Not)

The Dangers of Playing Doctor

Following my last article, I wasn’t going to write a new post so soon… but a subject came up that I felt that I should discuss – what I perceive to be the dangers of playing doctor and also, it has to be said, my reluctance to direct people to online pharmaceutical vendors.

I find that I have to walk a fine line because whilst I do unabashedly champion The Sinclair Method as a great way to recover from Alcohol Use Disorder, I have to act responsibly and tell people to always – ALWAYS – speak to their doctor first.

It’s a matter of public record that four and a half years ago I imported my supply of naltrexone illegally (so perhaps that makes me something of a hypocrite), but the fact is if I had to do it all over again I would have obtained my supply privately from a medical doctor rather than taking the risk that I did.

Which is why I these days urge people to check out the Find a Physician page on the C3 Foundation website (see HERE). I do that and I always tell people to buy Roy Eskapa’s The Cure for Alcoholism because it covers just about every question that anyone would have to ask about TSM and it also has a section specifically devoted to prescribing guidelines for physicians.

To be clear: when I speak about The Sinclair Method I speak from the point of view of my own experience as a grateful recipient of this innovation, not as a medical professional and though I’ve educated myself on this system and I think that far more people should know about it and have access to it, I don’t know everything that there is to know.

Just thought I’d reiterate my disclaimer because though it’s good to talk about science there needs to be certain boundaries.

The “Ex-wife” and Memories of my Drunken Facebook Escapades

I know that I’ve reminisced about my previous drunken self’s embarrassing Facebook misdemeanours before, but this is something quite funny which I just shared on my Facebook timeline.

My wife, Sally Hand:

(!)

Hahahahahahaha.

Yeah, I know… that’s quite a disturbing photo.

What happened was that back when I was still drinking, about five years ago, I got bored one night and for some inexplicable reason thought that it would be amusing to set up a fake Facebook profile called ‘Sally Hand’ which I could officially list myself as being married to.

Why? Well, because I was silly like that – especially when fuelled by Carlsberg Special Brew. Hell, I still have my dorky moments even now, but back then it was like I was never happy unless I could post some daily outrage. I could be quite mean with some of the stuff that I could post, actually… I shudder at the memory of some stuff… I lost a lot of friends… but it has to be said that this is one of the funniest things which I came up with at the time.

Get this: ‘Sally the masseuse’ got more friend requests than I ever did.

But after a couple of months I’d decided that the joke had worn a bit thin and me and Sally got Facebook divorced. Why? Well, certain people who’d seen my relationship status as ‘married’ on FB hadn’t actually thought to click any further… so they assumed that I had become hitched to an actual person called ‘Sally Hand’… and how do I let down someone gently when they’re saying ‘you’ll have to introduce the wife to me’?

Oh well…

Kevin Spacey & ‘The Mel Gibson defence’

‘It is deeply sad and troubling that this is how Kevin Spacey has chosen to come out’

‘Not by standing up as a point of pride — in the light of all his many awards and accomplishments, thus inspiring tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ kids around the world — but as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempted to molest one’

‘I am sorry to hear of Anthony Rapp’s experience and subsequent suffering. And I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years.’

‘May Anthony Rapp’s voice be the one which is amplified here. Victims’ voices are the ones that deserve to be heard’

– Zachary Quinto

 

…..Ooooh boy.

I wasn’t going to touch this one. Why? Well, because there’s more than enough that’s already been said.

That and the fact that I like to think of myself as a fair-minded person (though I have to commend Zachary Quinto’s above classy response to Spacey’s deflection).

However something stuck in my craw. Namely this: the fact that Spacey has now ‘sought treatment’.

Yup. We all know what that means. This is far too damn predictable. This shit writes itself.

He’s already making a calculated play for ‘The Mel Gibson defence’ (see also: ‘The Michael Barrymore defence’, ‘The Stan Collymore defence’ and ‘The Chris Langham defence’) which involves him running away to a cushy 12 Step-themed resort for a number of months in order to hide from the papparazi and deal with his pesky defects of character… only coming out to share his mushy redemption story about his ‘struggle’ with his sex addiction on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Uuuuurrgh. Honestly. This dude is digging his own grave. Not sure what can be done in terms of damage control for this guy now. Especially after being fired from Netflix.

It will be interesting to give it a few months from now to see if I’m right. I look forward to revisiting this.

 

The joy of blogging

It’s been a good week. The site has been getting quite a few more hits than normal (I’ve been getting quite a lot of traffic from Egypt, believe it or not – Egypt!) and I’m finding that the change of page design/menu reshuffle is really helping my readers because the new Sinclair Method resources page is getting a lot of views.

I’m also seriously considering recording a few Youtube videos using my new Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam. Just as an experiment.

Although I’ve taken part in the One Little Pill documentary and have done podcasts I’m very much more in my comfort zone as a writer (largely because I hate my accent) but the problem that I have is that every article I write seems to want to turn into a novel these days… that’s to say that I often struggle to keep the word count down to a reasonable level. Brevity is a real problem when you’ve got a lot to say on a given subject and it occurs to me that podcast/Youtube media may be easier than vast quantities of text on visitors to the site. Certainly less hard work to ingest.

Or perhaps a combination of video media media and text would work better for some articles. Who knows.

But I wouldn’t mind some advice/feedback on this in the comments section below. I’d particularly like to hear from people on what they think is the simplest to use video editing software as I would be a complete newbie when it comes to using anything like that.

Anyway…. as for what else I’ve been doing, I’ve been on a bit of a Kindle binge the last few days. splurging on Eddie Hall’s autobiography Strongman and Russell Brand’s book, Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions.

I’ve also been working on the draft of a new page for the Sinclair Method resources section of the site entitled ‘Answering the Critics: “Why haven’t I heard of The Sinclair Method before?”‘.

That’s its title in its current form, anyway.

It’s turned into a bit of a monster if I’m honest. The word count on it is currently 1,500 words and I’m only about half way through it. What I may end up doing is splitting it in half and making it a two part series of articles.

 

Other than that I don’t have much else to report. In between my blogging I’ve been back into the gym after a long absence and I’ve finally got around to watching Marvel’s The Defenders, which (after a slow start) got really good… really tying up story strands from the other Netflix Marvel shows quite well. What can I say… I’m a Marvel fan, though I did quite enjoy Suicide Squad.

Okay, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

My latest masterpiece – a caricature of Beano cartoonist Gary Whitlock

It’s been an interesting couple couple of weeks. Since finishing off the last couple of caricatures of some of my fellow volunteers from The Artrium gallery in Hartlepool (see HERE to have a look at those), I’ve just put down the pencil after completing this one – a caricature of my friend  Beano illustrator Gary Whitlock.

And… I think it’s okay (as far as these things go)… a little overcrowded, perhaps – but yeah, it’ll do.

About t’other Gary: he’s a really cool guy; just a terrific artist… and (given that he’s been in the comics biz since the late 80s) an old hand at this whole cartooning thing.

 

Please do check out his work here: www.monkeyhoundproductions.com

Happy birthday, Free Pigeon Press.com!

Attribution: By Adfern (own work) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Attribution: By Adfern (own work) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hi

So I’ve finally done it – gone north of the 365 day mark with this blog.

Many thanks to my supporters (Ha. yeah… all two of you!) and anybody else  who’s been a good friend over this last year.

But what a year it’s been… one I’ll never forget. I wish I could say that it’s been a great year, but that would be a lie (see HERE to understand exactly where I’m coming from with that statement).

Yes. There’s been great personal turmoil… something that’s not over yet, either – me and my family are still yet to endure the trial in January.

And then – as if I didn’t have enough excuses to be gloomy – Baron Harkonnen from Dune has just been elected Captain of the World.

 

To quote a famous catchphrase from the superb TV show The Wire: “Shyeeeeeeet”.

 

But enough of indulging in misery. “Gotta keep truckin'”; “onwards and upwards”, and all that… so without further ado, time for a bit of a review of things.

Like, for instance, where are things going with this blog? What’s my exact purpose with continuing it?

Well, there’s not been much doing for quite a few months now – tumbleweed, I know – very much because of what’s been going on behind the scenes in the wake of my mom’s death and the fact that I’ve needed to be far more discrete than usual (to the point of practically gagging myself) in order so that due process would not be impeded come the trial.

But in my spare time I have kept myself busy with a good bit of writing as a contributor under the umbrella of another project being headed up by a friend of mine… something yet to be published, but which should be quite good once that project gets further into development. Sounds all very hush-hush, I know… but there really isn’t that much of a mystery as to why I’ve not discussed it or publicized it… the fact is, I don’t like to make a fool of myself and make a noise about things (especially with regard to other people’s projects) when the traffic lights are still on amber, as opposed to green – that’s all.  Understandable, really.

I’ve also got back into my art in a big way, working as a volunteer for a not for profit art gallery/studio in Hartlepool (one of two voluntary roles I’m currently doing to help keep myself occupied, in fact) and have had a bit of fun recently doing some caricatures of some of my fellow studio peers (see below):

michael_judge_dredd_2
My mate Michael as judge Dredd. This was a real pain in the arse to draw, actually. Urrgh! It’s a real headache given all the detail needed on the armour and other bits of the costume.
steviltwin_1
A caricature of my friend Steve. I took inspiration for this from the videogame Gotham City Imposters because I wanted to do a Batman-themed pic, but it was important not to cover up too much of Steve in a costume lest I risk losing his likeness.

What I intend to do is to finally overcome my phobia of Adobe Photoshop and start doing digitally coloured versions of these things. Over the years I’ve played about with things like Photoshop and Corel Draw (as well as a popular Android graphics app called PicsArt recently), but I’ve got to admit that I’ve never invested much time or patience in them and have in fact had a bit of snootily dismissive attitude towards them… something that’s coming back to bite me in the bum big time now that so many illustrators use Photoshop and now that so many publishers expect you to be so well versed in various different graphical formats when you’re sending art to them (e.g. JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD etc, etc, etc).

But more than that, having become a big fan of the likes of comics illustrators like Lee Bermejo, I now realise just how wrong I really was and just how much digital colour can add to a drawing when applied well (if you’re unfamiliar with Bermejo’s work, please do check him out… especially his Joker graphic novel with Brian Azzarello and his self-penned Christmas Carol-themed Noel Batman graphic novel… just amazing, amazing work).

So anyway, that’s one little goal for myself… that’s one of my New Year’s resolutions already set down – to become much better acquainted with Photoshop.

…That and to continue things at the gym.

As many people know, I was in really bad physical shape a couple of years ago – dangerously so; morbidly obese and with blood pressure and cholesterol through the roof, so getting into the gym was motivated more by necessity rather than vanity… and much to my surprise, I picked things up rather well and have got into much better shape than I expected (get this: I’ve gone down from a 41 inch waist to a 34 inch waist!), but oh my Gawd, it’s taken some work… the hardest part being the diet much moreso than the weight training / cardio aspect.

Now THAT takes real discipline to adhere to… throwing some weights around and doing the whole gerbil thing on a treadmill is nothing… sticking to a rigid diet is a 24/7 job, I’ll tell ya!

Of course, given the events of this last year, it’s been really difficult to stick in at anything… I’ve really had to force myself sometimes… but what keeps me going is the memory of how proud my mum was to see me finally trying to sort myself out – hence why it’s so important for me to stick with it. Plus I also remember how fiercely motivated she was (at the age of nearly 80 years old!) with her line dancing and how she’d attend even if there was a snow blizzard… a fact that puts me to shame when I start to hear that little voice in my head telling me things like “Oh I would give it a miss… you’re far too tired today”.


“Limbo”.

Yes, that’s a good word. That’s a good summary of where I think I’m at right now. In this godawful inbetween stage (until January, anyway) until I can move on… though “move on” is perhaps a poor choice of words. I can’t guarantee how myself or any of my family will be, coming out of this. Or whether I’ll be the same person ever again.

But, again, I have my mom’s memory. Though there’s no guarantees, as long as I keep that in my mind that should be enough of a compass to help me from getting lost.

 

As to any other stuff… well, I’d like to get into doing some more stuff around The Sinclair Method on my blog next year. As much as I’ve walked away from a lot of the forums just because I’m frankly tired of reading the same old shit recycled and seeing the same over-opinionated pigs having their feeding frenzies in the troughs comments sections of the likes of The Fix and bullying everyone else out (shades of Napoleon from Orwell’s Animal Farm, I know), but I have to admit that I still do find the whole subject of addiction endlessly fascinating.

I just want to get back into it at another time, that’s all.


Okey-dokey, well that’s about it for now, I think. Nothing much else of note to report… but just on the subject of addiction, please do check out Monica Richardson’s documentary The 13th Step if you get the chance. I finally got round to watching it on Amazon Video about a month ago and it’s quite good. Better than I expected, actually. In fact, I much prefer it to Penn & Teller’s 12 Step thing… which I thought was quite informative, but very over-rated and I really didn’t care for the way how it fell into the trap of misrepresenting the whole debate as a two narrative paradigm, with Jeffrey Schaler effectively “representing” everyone who is opposed to the 12 Steps (which is highly misleading because I can tell you that not everyone on the other side of the fence to the Minnesota model agrees with many of Schaler’s views on addiction either).

Right. Well, that’s me done for now. Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

Gary Bell

“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”: Recovery from Addiction & The Dating Game

Okay, so here’s the score: it’s been nearly three and a half years since I went onto The Sinclair Method – a treatment method that enabled me to get sober in a thirteen week time frame.

In other words, more than enough time has passed (certainly enough time by AA’s “one year yard rule”, put it that way) for me to start thinking about putting myself out there on the dating scene.

And so it was, with no small amount of apprehension that I started the process by joining a couple of dating websites earlier this year – these being Plenty of Fish and Local Companions.

And the result? Urrgh… the result, dear reader, was that I very nearly lost the will to live using these things.

To explain: at the grand old age of forty four years of age I’m finding that I’m a bit of a dinosaur; someone completely unaccustomed to dating website etiquette and the cruel brevity of modern textspeak.

Meaning, of course, that whenever I use one of these dating websites or dating apps to connect with someone whom I like the look of, I’m often treated with suspicion or thinly veiled ridicule for speaking in properly constructed sentences and paragraphs.

In other words, I increasingly feel like the main protagonist from Idiocracy whenever I communicate with people in my natural writing style and in fact feel pressurised to “dumb it down” in order to fit in better and/or avoid ridicule.

Of course, I could just sit here and take a smugly superior attitude… defiantly saying that I “refuse to compromise for stupid people” and I could spend the rest of this article venting my spleen by ridiculing these dating social media platforms… or… or I could stop and honestly look at things and assess where I might have been going wrong.

Well, let’s start with the textspeak thing and have a real look at that. Strangely enough, I stumbled across this blog article in my Facebook newsfeed just recently: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/good-grammar-text-messages-might-make-you-look-jerk

Very interesting reading, indeed. This extract is real food for thought:

“Just as we have different styles of speaking in different situations, so do we have context-dependent styles of writing”

You know what? The author may have a point there. For instance, I can tell you that in his e-mails Roy Eskapa has a habit of typing everything in upper case WHICH MAKES IT LOOK LIKE HE IS SHOUTING… but do you know what? He actually isn’t. As Roy explained to me once, writing everything in uniform upper case is simply more expedient because it’s far less time-consuming than having to press the shift key every few seconds as he’s typing one e-mail after another.

Another example that comes to mind is an old school friend of mine who (despite being one of the most literate, intelligent people that you could ever meet) reads as if he’s had the most severe of lobotomies if you were to judge him by the standard of his writing on his Facebook timeline… something that’s just littered with the dreaded LOLs and the type of phonetic writing that you might expect from a young ‘un just out of nursery (example: “yeah ano! LOL” replacing the more formal “Yes, I know!”).

…Which makes me think that the author of the blog is correct in what she says about how many people use textspeak as a method to be perceived to be less formal and therefore far less threatening. The latter becoming especially more important in this day and age where people are so quick to manufacture reasons to publicly shame people on social media (see Jon Ronson’s excellent So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to read more on this very real modern phenomenon)… so, as much as it hurts my ego to admit this, perhaps the use of a “LOL” comes in handy now and again as a seat belt of sorts to avoid embarrassing social media car crashes; a form of pre-emptive damage limitation, perhaps?

Okay, so maybe I should loosen up a bit. Point taken.

Or (here’s a better idea) maybe I should simply tighten up on my match criteria for these dating sites?

…Which, in a roundabout way, leads me on to talking about the two new dating apps that I joined over the last month or so – Tinder and Badoo.

Now this is where it gets interesting because, to tell you the truth, these two apps aren’t that bad. Tinder, in particular, I quite like because of the way that by linking to your Facebook profile and reading your work history and qualifications and interests/likes, etc its algorithm actually attempts to match you to people with a similar personality and similar interests.

Which is great.

I can honestly say that I’ve been quite impressed by the matches that it’s given me and some of the nice ladies that I’ve communicated with through it… but here’s the thing: it’s frustratingly un-user friendly in that you’re limited by a specific word count for your profile write up and it offers scant little else in the way of any other special features to recommend it, whereas Badoo (a dating app recommended to me by a friend) is a different kettle of fish because whilst it doesn’t offer anything nearly as good in the way of matching, it does offer numerous appealing extras such as photo verification using your mobile device’s camera (something always reassuring in this day and age given the increased awareness of the number of fakers out there thanks to things like the documentaries Catfish and Talhotblonde) and other appealingly daft perks such as Xbox-style achievements for the number of views your profile has had and also, using your phone’s GPS technology, the app gives you an alert if you’ve unknowingly bumped into a fellow Badoo member of the opposite sex that same day… which is quite a cool feature, because it certainly gets your curiosity going.

So, depending upon what appeals to you the most, there’s things to recommend about both apps.

For me personally, though, Tinder has the edge just simply because it gives better matches.

Not that this makes things that much easier for me personally. To explain – even with a well-written profile and some nice photos of myself looking all debonair it is no guarantee of success whatsoever.

There are still things like the dreaded (but all too common) ridiculously unachievable Andie MacDowell-esque bullet lists to endure on these things and then, once I do get talking to a nice lady, there’s still a vetting process and numerous questions that get fired at me (which, again, is the Catfish legacy at work); something which I’m okay with and am quite sympathetic to – after all, there are some pretty damaged, dangerous people out there.

No – when it comes right down to it, my problem has a lot to do with my own confidence level thanks to a lot of my own baggage.

I’m specifically referring to my history of mental ill health thanks to my bipolar disorder and also my history with alcohol addiction and how I was very much “in the wilderness” thanks to both for so many years.

A story that makes for great reading as a recovery narrative on some Facebook forum or blog or Message board or whatever, but NOT – I can assure you! – on a fucking dating website!!!!

…Hence why, when I’m asked awkward questions like “You’re a reasonably good looking man, how come you’ve been single for so long?” I’ve had to develop appropriate ways of communicating (in a drip-drip style) some of the health/social challenges that I’ve had without laying it on too thickly; not something that I’ve been entirely happy about doing because I despise dishonesty, but then again I frankly don’t want to scare people off.

As my friend Robert Rapplean recently pointed out to me, you have to be both pragmatic and strategic in your choice of what you disclose about yourself… as if you were going for a job interview – meaning that you have to “accentuate the positive”.

You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister in between

Johnny Mercer,  Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, 1944


Conclusion

I think that there’s a number of things that I’ve learned since starting the ball rolling in January of this year.

  1. “You get what you pay for in this life”. Meaning that, if I am really serious, it may be worth investing a little bit of time and money in a membership to a good dating website with a solid reputation rather than messing around with cheap freemium dating apps.
  2. Just on the time aspect – I’ve read elsewhere on the net that fifteen hours a week is actually considered a reasonable investment in order to find success. A lot of time, I know, but it makes sense not to be half-assed about finding the right person and to really put in a lot of effort in doing a good write up and keeping it regularly updated with new photos.
  3. I perhaps need to “get over myself” a bit with my pedantic hang-up about people who use textspeak and accept that maybe – just maybe – some level of dialect switching is going on there. A good way to spot whether this may be the case would be to check out their profile and attempt to read between-the-lines.
  4. Most importantly, I think that I just need to HAVE FUN. Accept that rejection is inevitable, that I’ll have to go through a lot of ugly step sisters before I find my own personal Cinderella and – oh, yes – to make sure that I never EVER post something like this on a dating website…

Okay, as usual, it’s been a blast. Thanks for listening to my ranting and raving.

 

Peace and love,

Gary

P.S. just one last interesting point: both myself and Mike Dempsey were talking about the whole online dating thing and the challenges that people with stigmatising illnesses face in getting back into the dating scene and we briefly mooted the possibility of answering this demand by setting up a dating site or dating app for people in recovery… however – after about, oh, thirty seconds of thought on the subject – we both concluded that (despite it not being a bad idea) the reality is that moderating such a thing would be an absolute frickin’ nightmare; just too much.

P.P.S. Another thought that does spring to mind: I suppose that this is yet another type of discrimination that people in recovery face. Much like how we face discrimination when applying for jobs or in the way that we are sometimes treated by members of the medical profession when complaining about other health problems. I guess the biggest difference, of course, is that (unlike the other examples) when it comes to the dating game it isn’t remotely a meritocracy to start with anyway… in fact it’s entirely discriminatory by it’s very nature. It’s brutal and unforgiving, in fact; positively Darwinian. A heartbreaking truth which I learned for myself when I stumbled across a disabled lady’s profile on Plenty of Fish in which she was pleading with people to ignore the wheelchair she was sitting in in her profile photo and just to talk to her like a proper human being… so sad.