Stuff, Things, and Opinions

Thoughts and ramblings on life, and myself.

I'm sitting there, in the library; I want to carry on studying, but each time I try, my attention wanders. I yawn. It's 3pm, I've been here for little more than 4 hours, and already I'm too exhausted to carry on. Life didn't used to be like this, and I hate it.

People think depression means feeling sad, but it's much more than that. Tiredness and lack of concentration are big symptoms of depression. Studying when life is like that is incredibly hard. Difficulties remembering things are a symptom as well... not exactly useful either.

One of the things I've learned from studying my first module is how to deal with these challenges. Lots of tea breaks; studying in the mornings, and at the start of the week, when I'm least tired, have been important. But there is another problem I wasn't expecting: interactive content.

I know that, for lots of people, video, audio, graphics, and activities are great ways to learn. But, for me, they're useless. Watching video clips, or listening to audio, I just don't take in the information. Interactive activities are just as bad, because I find them confusing – it's hard to make sense of something if you can't see it all at the same time and can't remember the bit at the top when you scroll down.

Like I said, this isn't a challenge I expected, but it has taught me one thing: transcripts are needed. Like, I assume, most people, I'd always assumed that transcripts were there to help screen reader users – often visually impaired people who struggle to access visual content. But it turns out, they're just what I needed to.

By using written alternatives to visual material, I can take my time reading through the information. I can use highlighters and page markers to track where I'm up to, and I can make notes and annotations to help me learn. None of that is possible with multimedia or digital content, and it makes my life so much harder.

What's the point of this? I don't know really. I'm pleased that I've learned – and am still learning – ways to learn that work best for me. That said, I'm also concerned. I'm a self-confessed tech geek, but I think it's important that, in a push towards ever more interactive learning, we don't lose sight of the fact that we all learn in different ways. Sometimes, the old-fashioned written word is still best.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

You receive an email from me, but there's nothing there, just something that looks like this:

If it's the first time you've received one of these messages, all you need to do is:

  • click the “View Secure Message” button;
  • enter the password (I'll have sent you this separately);
  • read the message (and reply if you want to by clicking the button).

There's a full guide at (https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/secure-messages/) if you want to know more.

Normal email is 40 year old technology and not really fit for purpose. Fortunately, there's a better way to send email, using encryption, but most email providers make encryption annoyingly difficult to use.

If you want to know more about email encryption, how it works, and why it matters, take a look at any of these links.

I use ProtonMail for my email. If you use ProtonMail too, then our emails are encrypted by default, which is awesome. If you don't, then either you need to set up email encryption yourself (Windows, or Mac), or I can send you emails like the one that's probably brought you here, wondering what it's all about.

Or, you can sign-up for ProtonMail yourself.

Better still, you can contact me using the free, simple, secure Signal messenger.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

I hate Twitter less than Facebook, but I still hate it. I use it to interact with people I know, to stalk people I admire, and to read news from sources I trust. I even, just occasionally, tweet.

I don't like that Twitter creates an archive of my tweets that exists for ever. What I think now may not be what I think next week, nevermind next month, next year, or next decade.

So, from now on, all my tweets will delete themselves roughly two-weeks after they're posted. The same goes for 'likes', though that might take a little longer.

If you don't like that please do write your feedback on a postcard, and then keep it to yourself :)

M

I'm only two weeks in, but I'd forgotten how much I enjoy learning. Having an excuse to spend hours and hours of my week immersing myself in knowledge is such a joy.

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I’m a student again. At the age of 34½ I am heading back to university studying “Natural Sciences”.

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I do like a good gif. The other day, I came across this beauty, which so perfectly explains something I find incredibly hard to put into words: anxiety.

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I did something last week that I have never done before. At the age of 31, I hung a pair of curtains. Yes, I did; and what’s more I’m proud of it. They’re big, they’re blue and they’re ruining my life.

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In 2006-7, Lebanon and Israel were once again at war. I don’t know what the reason was that time. What I do know is how it was covered in the western media: polarisation, extremism, bombings and terror. I suppose all of those things were happening but they didn’t involve the whole population.

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When I posted yesterday, I really didn’t know what the reaction of other people would be. In the end I’ve been bowled over with kindness and support – some of the time from complete strangers. Right now I feel like I’m walking on air. All of your kind thoughts and words have made a huge, huge difference. They really have.

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311 days ago I was formally, and finally, diagnosed with severe, major depression. Some of you will know what happened to finally tip me over the edge, some of you won’t. But as I now feel ready, I wanted to explain – as much as I can – what has been going in with me for the last year, and before.

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