Simon from our Monday group has been working on a blog about one of his passions; comics.

What are some of your earliest memories related to comics?

Some of the earliest comics I got were Starlord, Nutty, Whizzer and chips and Spiderman weekly. I remember putting posters from Spiderman comics on my bedroom wall.
There was the Old master Q comics written in Chinese. They were supposed to be funny. I just looked at the pictures.

In middle school, I read my first Spider-Man comic. It was a Spider-Man weekly from a friend called Alex.
Later I was in Boots in the Kirkgate centre and saw Spider-Man weekly comic number 468. I bought it. This was the first British marvel comic I bought.

I have some bad memories to do with comics.
One day I walked to a newsagent shop to get a comic. It was a fair walk away, more than just up the road. Mum got worried and upset and declared me missing and sent everyone looking for me. I had been gone longer than just a trip to the nearby shops.
When I was walking to the shop I was oblivious to all the drama. When I was walking to the newsagent I thought this is taking some time to get there but didn’t realise the worry it was causing my mum.

How do these memories make you feel?

That memory makes me feel bad of course. It’s another bad mark against me liking comics because my parents didn’t like me reading them anyway. Reading comics was an escape; I could get away from my life and problems when reading comics.

Where have you been to buy comics in the past? Describe these places, were they in Bradford?

In Bradford there was Dells and Rocks Off. Dells used to be in Kirkgate Market and Rocks Off was on Westgate.

There was also It’s a Trap which was on Market Street. All these shops have closed down. There was WHSmith as well.

I was happy when I found Rocks Off. I kept on trying to look for it but never found it. Then one day I saw it; I was excited. I had to walk up stairs to get to the shop. It was on the first floor. It was for me a wonderland of comics, comic heaven. There were racks of comics on the wall. It sold records but I was interested in the comics.
It’s been closed for ages since then. It was a good shop.
It even had marvel comic annuals. Not like the British hardcover annuals you got in British shops. But US annuals were special cos you never used to get them in British shops.

Dells was a stall in Kirkgate market. Comics were not on shelves, there was not enough room for there to be all shelves in the market stall. The comics were sold on a counter.
He wouldn’t let you read the comics. You could only look at the covers. You couldn’t look inside. If you wanted to look inside the comics you had to buy them.
I bought Marvel super heroes Secret Wars from Dells. Secret wars was a major limited series (see previous article). Dells also sold Marvel limited series comics like Iceman.

When I was studying in Sheffield in the 90’s I would go to Sheffield Space Centre and Nostalgia and Comics. To get to Sheffield space centre I had to walk a way out of the city centre to it. There were posters on stands in front of the comic shelves which were a bit in the way. Again I was happy to have found it. I could buy comics again.

Nostalgia and comics was in the city centre. You could use your NUS card for a discount which was good. I was studying at Sheffield from 1990 to 1993.
It was one of my main haunts while I was in Sheffield buying comics. I’d go to nostalgia and comics then go to Safeway supermarket shopping.
On Saturday’s the upstairs was open and they had extra things like memorabilia.
I used to go there after I’d been to lectures at polytechnic/university (polytechnics changed to universities in 1992)

If I wanted to go to a comic shop now I’d go to Leeds. They have Forbidden Planet, Travelling Man and Ok comics. There was Odyssey 6 but that’s closed down. 

When I’ve been to London, I went to Showcase comics and Forbidden Planet. In 2008 I went to London Forbidden Planet, the comics were in the basement, that was comic heaven. Shelves of comics. I thought just leave me here! I’d be happy stuck here surrounded by comics.

OCD Awareness Week

My name is Simon. I wanted to write an article about my experience because this week is OCD awareness week.

I was diagnosed in 2000. I decided to go seek help for intrusive thoughts I was getting. I went to the GP saying I suffered with bad thoughts. I also mentioned that I took a long time washing my hands.
Whilst talking to people I would get intrusive thoughts which worried me.
I was also worried that after hearing about my bad thoughts I was having, I’d be locked up and put away. The doctor said I had OCD.

I was a bit relieved when I got the diagnosis because I knew I wouldn’t be put away. At the time I wasn’t given much information about OCD. Since then I’ve done a bit of my own research. I used to read forums on the OCD Action and OCD UK websites. Recently I’ve joined a Facebook group about intrusive thoughts and OCD. I don’t relate to everything that’s on the Facebook group but it does help me.

In 2008 I went to the OCD ward at Springfield University Hospital as a resident. It was good because it helped me realise I wasn’t such a bad person. Intrusive thoughts can make you think that you are. I wasn’t as bad as my thoughts. I met new people and went around London a bit. One of the important things I was told there was when you try not to think of something that’s when you think of it the most. For example, if you try not to think of pink elephants, that is the thing you’ll focus on.

When I came back home, I felt better about myself knowing I could be a good person.

Here are some links to some useful websites:

Damian’s View on the Lockdown and Mental Health 

I’ve been thinking about another national lockdown and how it’s going to affect people’s mental health. I think it will affect people’s lives and make them isolated again.

We don’t know how long this will all go on for. We have six months of these restrictions but nothing is certain.

I’m worried about not being able to see my family. I’m not sure what Christmas is going to be like. I think this will affect people’s minds, health and wellbeing.

I do cope but I have to find things to do to manage to keep myself going. I’ll go out if I need to, as I don’t want to go out in the cold. I might get bored but I’d rather be inside and warm. You can catch illnesses when you go out like pneumonia and of course coronavirus at the minute.

I’ll keep positive and I’ll keep doing things. You have to adapt.

Zoom meetings have helped me throughout the year. I have been in touch with Bradford People First and BTM which is good. Keeping in touch with people keeps me positive.

I recently had a chat with the BTM group about their mental health and lockdown. I wanted to know how lockdown affects everybody.

Here are some things that the group said about another lockdown;

‘I think the change to routine is the biggest thing for me because I thrive on knowing what I’m going to do. It changed everything last time and everything was a bit of a shock. I tried to cope with it as it came but now you can prepare in advance of things you can do to keep you busy. It’s hard I know I’ll feel lonely. If you plan in advance you can do video calls and things.’

‘It makes me feel a bit disappointed and a bit depressed about it. When I find something to do at home then I’m alright but I don’t want to stay in all the time doing nothing. Getting in touch on video calls is better.’

Chris is part of the Wednesday group and is a brilliant writer. He has written short stories and poems as part of his BTM work. Chris has written this piece about his experience of the pandemic.

Life for Me in Lockdown

What are my abiding memories of Lockdown 2020 during the Coronavirus outbreak? Deserted streets, carless highways, empty buses, closed shops, the ghostly image of our Prime Minister Boris Johnson just before he was rushed to Intensive Care, and the stern but caring voice insisting that we “Stay Home, protect the NHS, save lives”.                                        

For me Lockdown meant  a major disruption of my normal  routine. The things I had enjoyed for years, even decades, suddenly came to an end. Bradford Talking Media, my computer course, Mind, the mental health drop-in, the Writers Circle, bus rides to surrounding towns and cities – all these pursuits were abruptly put on hold. It meant long days and nights indoors when my only solace was a book, my radio, or a T.V programme. With people dying every day in their hundreds, I didn’t even want to put pen to paper, and my literary efforts dried up through lack of inspiration. The News Channel almost came to resemble the Horror Channel. It was almost like some chilling Sci – fi movie had horribly come true. I had to control my impulsive urge to wander around the city centre as soon as I had consumed breakfast, frequent the cinema or pub or visit friends. It was almost like living in a bubble. Shopping for food seemed to be more tedious with the long ques outside the Supermarket, yet it suddenly had more allure as this was my only escape from the house. Social – distancing rules often resulted in people becoming tetchy and irritable, although the staff in most essential shops remained pleasant.

Not wishing to look ridiculous, I shunned the wearing of a face mask for weeks until they finally became mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces. This is a decision I now regret as a rash choice, as my carer dutifully wore a face covering throughout lockdown. Even after the buses began running again, I was reluctant to board one and my free bus pass became worthless and unused. Mentally and emotionally I was suffering through lack of social contact and I missed my friends at Mind, The Writers Circle and BTM.

The months dragged on, there were false dawns, and then to our amazement some lockdown measures were re-imposed in Bradford soon after they had been lifted. Coming on the eve of the Eid festival, this ruined the enjoyment of many Muslims as they could not mix with another household indoors or in the garden.

On the few occasions I visited City Park I found it a sad and forlorn place. The Mirror Pool was bereft of cool water, no children paddled, there were no outdoor concerts and only a few die-hards sat on benches and walls. But gradually Bradford the ghost town began to fill with faces again as the peak of the pandemic ebbed away. Non-essential shops re-opened as some normality returned. Yet frustratingly at about this time the weather broke down with rain and storm clouds replacing the beautiful blue skies and sunshine of our warmest ever spring during lockdown. But I had never been tempted myself to beak social-distancing guidelines and head to beauty-spots like like  Ilkley or Burnsall to irresponsibly soak up the sun.

If there’s one thing that lockdown has taught me it’s to enjoy the simple things in life and be content with life in my own home. For me it’s been a time of quiet refection and for taking stock of the direction in which my life was going. Do I really need all these frivolous pleasures or am I just as happy with my own company and that of my carer? When you are sat with yourself you can never outstay your own welcome or annoy anyone but yourself. And if our experience of the year 2020 and the cruellest spring ever brings us closer together and we learn to help and look after each other more, then something good will have come out of the Covid-19 outbreak.

I have a condition called Complex PTSD which is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Follow this link to understand more about this condition as it will help you understand why I feel the way I do.

The main issue with my condition is that I’m constantly looking out for anything that might be a threat. This means that I’m always anxious and watchful for danger. Hearing the neighbours or people talking outside puts me on edge and I go into fight, flight, or freeze mode.

When I am outside, I become overly watchful and this affects my spatial awareness. I feel quickly overwhelmed by busy places with lots of people and will feel frustrated because I want to get out but feel trapped.

For this reason, I don’t mind social distancing or staying at home but I feel isolated when I’ve had flashbacks or nightmares. I experience emotional flashbacks which means I am more likely to panic than relive traumatic events. This is because I can’t remember a lot of the traumas, I simply remember how they felt.

The virus itself feels threatening and when I go out it adds to my anxiety. Signs in shops, masks, and restrictions are a reminder of this threat. I try to challenge these fears by going out and accepting that much of my anxiety is based on past events. I’m still aware of the need to slow the progress of the virus so I follow government guidelines as much as possible.

Part of having CPTSD means I am prone to overthinking and catastrophizing. I often worry that things will never change and that the restrictions are now permanent. Again, I try to challenge this by questioning the likelihood of this happening. It doesn’t help that the restrictions seem too complicated and inconsistent in how they’re enforced. I often feel like things aren’t changing or that they’re getting worse.

This undermines my confidence in how the authorities are dealing with the virus.

Most of the time I’m able to deal with the difficult situation by accepting that there isn’t much I can do to change government policies except try to follow the restrictions. I try to distract myself by keeping busy and doing things that will make my life better when things get back to normal. This includes learning new skills, doing online courses, looking for work, and planning for the future.

I always try to stay aware of how I feel and remind myself that my condition will make things seem much worse than they are. Practicing self-care is important. I try to eat well, go out for walks and keep in touch with friends.

One of the most positive things about social distancing is that it’s given me space to focus on myself. I’ve used the tools I learnt in therapy to deal with and resolve a lot of my issues.

I feel that when the restrictions are lifted and life returns to normal, I’ll have a different perspective on life. This is exciting but also a bit scary because it’s new, and my natural response is to feel anxious. I’m optimistic though and I know that I’ve got through tough times and changes in life before.

The main thing is to stay aware, keep busy and remind myself that this is a temporary situation and whatever happens I’ll get through.

Ella’s Cat

This is a video I created while at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. The original object was to pass the …

Below is an account written by one of our volunteers on the The National Lottery Community Fund Hear Our Voice Project about their experience during the coronavirus lockdown.

This is about my visit to Thornton medical centre under coronavirus conditions for David 

My visit to Thornton Medical Centre for blood test :

I had to go to Thornton because my surgery was closed due to coronavirus.

Thornton is far away so I had to take a taxi.

You couldn’t enter the surgery as you normally would.

I had to stop at the front door.

The door was locked.

I had to press the intercom button to speak to the receptionist.

She asked me if I had any symptoms and if I had been in contact with anyone who had had covid 19.

She then asked me if I was wearing a mask. I had to have my facemask on before i went in.

Then I went to the waiting area.

The chairs were arranged 2 metres apart.

When I had my blood test I was still wearing my mask.

The nurse taking my blood was wearing PPE, a visor, mask and gloves.