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Travel => Exploring NZ and the world => Topic started by: Booyaoi on 21 July 2008, 04:05:AM

Title: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Booyaoi on 21 July 2008, 04:05:AM
I moved to Chch after a homophobic experience in a small town (still NZ), being too scared to go out in public for fear of running into two people (and it's the fiancee who threatened and scared me!). It's since been a disaster. I have no job, no friends, no parties to go to, and don't go out to bars either (if I go out alone, I'd expect to end up sitting by myself alone).

I managed to pick a house with neither insulation, nor lounge heating (the other guys aren't willing to pay for it), so I effectively have no lounge as well. Not that my house has provided any social life anyway: all flatmates have their own lives, and one has pretty-much snubbed me from friendship in refusing to put me in touch with any of his multiple friends who can get everything under the sun (like y'know): he said "ehhhhhhhhhhh, no". I've received the rudest welcome to Chch one could possibly get. My flatmates have no problem with homosexuality, but I've had to put up with homophobic guests who once ranted on all night about different people they know being a "fucking faggot, "fucking homo", or "fucking gay". I'm not easily offended, but was seriously intimidated, hoping the look on my face wouldn't give me away, or I wouldn't blush. I wanted to live with at least some gay people (which would've been a big step for me), but it didn't work out like that (a cat seriously limits your flat choices: down to 1 in 10 places, and being as old as 29 does to an extent as well). I also wanted to live in a party house – why I picked one with three others, but it didn't work out like that either.

Work and Income talked me out of going on the unemployment benefit with a seminar in which they pretty-much told me they're just gonna find me a job I won't like instead of giving me the benefit, and that most people go it alone these days. I've since blown a lot of my savings to get by. I later got a workbroker to print some paper copies of my CV, and she picked it apart, said it pretty-much all needs to go, and that I won't get a job with it or the sorts of cover letters I was using. That destroyed all my confidence, and I've since stopping applying for jobs until I work on it some more - wasting even more of my savings and making me feel seriously despondent. I just need a job that won't send me into suicide-level depression. I should be on anti-depressants, but I'm not – I think that's my choice. I'd like something in the inner city that feels happening: I wanted a bar job (and have been applying unsuccessfully), but don't fancy my chances at this time of year with so few jobs available, and no experience. I was told that 70% of the jobs in Chch go by word-of-mouth, so I'm assuming that means I flat-out can't get something good as a newcomer (by that I mean fun, rather than high-paying). I'd most like a creative job, but have written that off as impossible for many reasons.

The only thing keeping me happy was alcohol, but I decided to go cold turkey until I'm happy and it's not a crutch to deal with depression.

I'm probably not ready to go into a gay bar yet. I'm still scared that someone I don't want to know I'm gay (brother, sister in law, or friend of theirs) might see me go into one – and I don't like just anyone knowing I'm gay. It's all to do with BDD: I don't want people looking at me and seeing a sexual being (as they will do more so if they know you're gay) – thinking that would be obscene given my looks (I look in the mirror and see a monster). I still need to work on my self-image and convince myself that I'm not that monster. I only faced up to being gay less than three years ago; I haven't yet touched a guy.

Anyway, who's been in this position? How did you make it out of this hell?

Should I keep house-hopping until I hit some real friends?

I've had even more shit to deal with. The one, single happy time since I moved here was these two days I spent with an internet acquaintance passing through Chch on his way to Queenstown. I instantly fell so deeply for him, it's a real case of that Delta Goodrem song "out of the blue, there I met you, showed me a life I can't see without you". This was the first guy I'd had feelings for in 2.7 years since I decided no one could ever compare to the last. I'm convinced he's gay (I'd stake my life on it) and that he has feelings for me, but he's not ready to face up to it, and he's pursuing women. In our internet discussions since, he usually plays very coy about his sexuality, but every time I've gotten just on the verge of telling him exactly what I feel for him (something I always build up to) he then tells me about his heterosexual dating life. He knows I'm gay, and I feel he's using me to play with being gay within safe boundaries for him (though this is not premeditated on his part), and it hurts like hell for me to be put in that position (something that was seriously driving me to drink). I can't say "fuck him" and break off contact with him, because I love him so that makes him worth it – not that I could break off contact with him anyway: I've tried to abstain, and failed. I need him to tell me "you'll be fine", "you can do it" etc. I often can't, and prove his faith in me wrong, but that's beside the point.

P.S. Does anyone know if the guy who works at Hunters and Collectors with the big stretched ear-hole rings is gay? I like him – just like though. He's more than once gone above-and-beyond the call of duty for me. Before the guy I now love came to Chch from Australia, he offered to shamelessly flirt with this guy to see if he's gay for me, and seemed keen to make good on this promise when he was here (or at least, wanted to see the hot guy too), but we didn't have time.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: clasp 2.0 on 21 July 2008, 01:33:PM
Shit this is huge.. hope you be bothered reading it.. lol

Hey Booyaoi,

Thanks for your incredibly honest post.  It can’t be easy spilling those kinda beans to strangers..

It sounds like there are multiple internal and external situations conspiring to make your life hell at the moment.  I haven’t been in your hell, but I have been through a few of my own, and I can tell you with certainty that nothing is forever, including the shitty bits.  Everything changes.  Fundamental law.  So take heart, and have faith that things can and will change. 

To some degree it is up to you in what direction they change though, so I’m going to make a few suggestions from my own perspective, which you should feel free to ignore or consider as you feel fit.  It’s hard to give good advice at the best of times, so I’ll just talk about things I have found helpful, and voice a few opinions.  Oh also, I really don’t know much about BDD- so I might say some stupid stuff on that front- please forgive me if I do.  Also, I’m not going to talk much about gay support services, or what’s on in CHCH; I’m assuming someoneelse who knows more about that stuff will be along shortly with information on that, and I’m not going to patronise you with a bunch of links you could just as easily google yourself.

One of the things it sounds like you are dealing with is feeling really low a lot, feeling shy, and a bit hopeless and helpless maybe?  I’m going to suggest that this is something that it is kinda central to deal with.  It sounds like you also want to come out, feel comfortable with yourself, meet people, and generally create a life you enjoy in Christchurch.  Meeting some folks through some gay groups might be really helpful, as might having another go at finding a house you want to live in, and that does the things you hoped your current house would do.  However, while you are feeling low, these things are going to be difficult to do.  In reality, you will probably find that you start solving all of these things simultaneously, like someone folding in all four flaps of a cardboard box.  I’m going to talk mainly to your low mood, however.  Perhaps if you can get your motivation, hope and confidence up and running, everything will be just that little bit easier.

First; get on the dole, it’s what it’s for.  One of the depressing things about being depressed, is the way it saps your energy to get stuff happening, and how it works to slowly close down your options.  There is a danger that you will stay off the dole and in the doldrums, and slowly spend all your savings, which will mean you have even fewer options.  Avoid this!  Those pre-dole seminars are designed to scare you off and save the MSD money.  Ignore them.  I was an artist on the dole for ten years and never got sent to an interview at a burger joint once.  Not getting a job is the easiest thing in the world.  If you get a job interview for a job you really don’t want, just don’t wash for 3 days, and go in dirty clothes, drunk.  Done.

Second, get up and moving.  Buy a bike off trademe.  Join the gym.  Go to art galleries.  See movies.  At the very least, get into going for daily walks- but brisk ones.  Exercise is fundamentally opposed to sadness and hopelessness, and is a simple thing you can do that will help stop you sliding further into depression.  Also, exercise develops discipline and a sense of self-efficacy (that ‘I can do it’ feeling that is one of the basic cures for depression), and after while, you get fit, look better, and feel better.  Caution: Hot guys at the gym may make you feel shit (lol- speaking from experience here!); avoid a pretty boy gym, and use those moments of self-loathing to get to understand what happens for you in those moments, so you can learn the tricks that your depression / BDD / whatever you want to call it, plays on your mind and learn to beat them.

Which brings us to therapy / CBT.  It sounds like you might benefit from this (wouldn’t we all), but it is hard to get this subsidised, unless you are about to kill yourself or someone else.  So options:  Refer yourself to a clinic, and just tell them you are scared that you will kill yourself by the end of the week; find a student clinic or charity counselling service; or DIY.

Re DIY:  Listen carefully, and I will reveal the grand secret of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:
1) Get to know your mind, learn to watch it, and try and understand what the thoughts and situations are that make you feel good, and what makes you feel shit.
2) Increase the feeling good stuff, and then decrease and eventually remove the feeling shit stuff.
3) Understand this:  The seductiveness of the feeling shit stuff is that it says to you :”I’m true.  I’m real.  Without me you are kidding yourself.”  This is complete poppy cock.  Thoughts are just thoughts.  At the bottom of misery is just more misery.  Neither the sad person nor the the happy person are more ‘realistic’.  They just think differently about the same stuff.  Ergo:  You can choose.  Repeat after me; “fuck off misery, you’re so last week”.

Easy? Kinda.  Sorta.  Maybe.  But not all the time.  The bad loops are tricky and sly, and it takes time to learn to outwit them, but; it can be done.  Heres a list of things that might help.  Pick and mix..

Meditation: I am a great believer in this.  Increases mindfulness, which is vital if you want to change how you think. (I recommend the Buddhist versions, which are more about self awareness, rather than contacting Vishnu.).  Start slowly, and with compassion towards yourself.  Ten minutes of sitting with ‘hell mind’ can be plenty.

Yoga: Mindfulness and exercise, all at once.  You can’t go wrong, but it is kinda expensive.  Give it go though.

Gratitude Diaries: Oprah swears by these apparently.  You write six things you are genuinely grateful for every morning.  I haven’t done this (it sounds kinda hard, maybe three/a day would be easier!), but I have kept a diary of positive thoughts that counteract the negative shit I believe about myself sometimes.  This works as a source of counter-evidence to beliefs you might have that you and/or the world are shit.  Also helps you get into the habit of positive thinking (increasing the good stuff).

Increasing your activity levels.  As above.  If you see a therapist, this is the first thing they will try and do, and it is one of the most effective interventions for low mood.

Getting a job, any job, for now.  Will get you moving, get you money, and give some sense of achievement.  Perhaps you could ring back the lady who reviewed your CV, and let her know that you feel a bit hopeless after her advice; could she give you a few tips on what you should be doing?  Then try these things and get more tips.  I’m sure she didn’t mean to burst your bubble; getting better at doing stuff is always a good thing.

Start a diary/ scheduling system.  Oh my god, yes.  Getting organised revolutionises my life every time.  Get a diary.  Schedule stuff.  Schedule fun stuff, and good stuff, and stuff that gets your fire going, as well as setting some long term goals (good house, the job you really want) and scheduling the steps to achieving these.  I have lists of long term goals, a year planner, and weekly schedules that get the practical steps happening.
Steven Covey is the diary guru, and the book below is one of the few genuinely life-changing books I have ever read (it should be in your local library):
  • Covey, S. R., Merrill, R., & Merrill R. R. (1994). First things first : to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. New York, USA : Simon & Schuster.

0800 021 021[/i].  This is a fabulous referral line.  They have a national database of all kinds of community resources- gay groups, mental health groups and resources, counseling phone lines for those times you need to talk to someone, and more.. 

OK, that should give you something to start with.  I hope i have said at least one helpful thing.  Baby steps, my friend, baby steps, and go easy on yourself.  Perfection is not the aim.  Being friends with yourself is always a good start (and finish).  Set achievable goals, but set some.  And if at first you don’t succeed, try again.  The hard bit is starting, and facing the fact that you will keep feeling shit for a bit longer.  Some days you will feel worse.  It’s a long-term project, but doable, my friend.  Totally doable.

And oh yeah, there is nothing wrong with being gay.  Nothing at all.  Sure some folks say there is, but folks like to say all kinds of shit, particularly about gays, blacks, women.. etc etc.  They are wrong, simple as that.  I’m not surprised to hear that you are reacting strongly to the kindness that your online friend shows you, but I’m sure in time, you find other people that will show you kindness too.  Take a breath. Breathe out.  You’ll be fine, in time, you will be fine.  I hear a lot of strength in your post.  Stopping drinking was a great move, that shows fabulous self awareness, as does your desire to beat the negative thoughts you have about yourself.  Find the things that get your fire going Booyoai.  When your fire is going, the other stuff will fall into place just that little bit easier.

All the best.  :)

And post a picture of your cat in the cat thread in the general forum here.  Lets see him/her.. :)

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Ozbearinnz on 21 July 2008, 02:00:PM
Clasp, I have to say F&%! me, what you have written is amazing, you have given my some ideas to think about and my situation doesn't seem anything like Booyaoi.

Booyaoi, my situation is different to yours and I have a few years on you but i can relate to what you are going through.  One suggestion, and maybe not your cuppa, is the bowling group in CHC, great bunch of guys and is enjoyable for a an hour or so on a Sunday.  This is the only group that i am involved with and there are lots more out there.  It can be intimidating when going to a group but i have found that people will always make you feel welcome and something like bowling is not obviously gay.

Hang in there and Clasp is correct, it will get better.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: on 21 July 2008, 04:07:PM
Clasp you make me so proud that I am part of this community all the power in the world to you my friend.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Kay on 21 July 2008, 04:46:PM
Really good advice Clasp.

Hang in there Booyaoi.  Christchurch is a cliquey place but there are good people there too.  You haven't had much luck yet but that can change.

Like Clasp says, go back to WINZ and get registered for Unemployment Benefit.  It won't kick in straight away, but if you're registered you're more likely to get Government assistance to find a job or a helpful training course.  You could go to Careers Services too to get help with sorting out what you will enjoy doing and how to get into that type of work - see - there's no charge.

If you don't have the right experience for what you want to do, then try volunteering
They have an introductory session on Thursday 31 July, 10.30 a.m at Manuka Cottage, 45 Dickens Street, Addington.  Everyone welcome.  No charge.  Or just see what positions they have that need help -  Its another way to meet more people in Christchurch.


Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Booyaoi on 21 July 2008, 05:56:PM
Thanks for writing all that text just for me, Clasp. I'm writing to various points as I read through.

I'm at the stage where I'm almost OK for anyone from my new life to know I'm gay, but not anyone from my old life – with few exceptions. My family isn't homophobic (I have two gay first cousins on one side of the family, and they're accepted), but that doesn't mean I'm not too ashamed for them to know.

I get out of the house every day as being in the house alone is depressing. Mostly I go clothes shopping. After having lost some pant sizes (34-36 down to a pure 32) I'm still trying to find an acceptable pair of jeans. I've gone through 9 pairs within the past two months, and don't like any. I'm not rich enough to waste money like this, but I need pants I feel comfortable leaving the house in, and I don't yet have them so I keep looking (I tend to wear them then decide I hate them, meaning I can't take them back). All my body-image issues translate to clothes as well. All I want is this: skinny (not slim straight, but proper skinny), not so low-rise my crack shows or my dick bulges out one side of the front seam when sitting (the biggest problem with skinnys), with a zip fly (I've since learned I'm gonna have to compromise on this), in any kind of blue other than the classic old-man blue – preferably light-to-moderate blue, and if darker blue, then not too utility-pant-like (the problem I usually have with dark blue jeans: crude, stiff fabric, gaudy stitching). This mythical pair of jeans doesn't exist – not in the Levis store, Hunters and Collectors, Paris Texas, Honour and Obey, Ballantynes Contemporary Lounge, the mall shops (Just Jeans, Jeans West, Jay Jays, Barkers, Meccano, Hallensteins, Farmers), or Surf/Skate shops (Amazon, Cheapskates, City Surf, Embassy, R&R Sport). See, I've been everywhere – and more I can't remember. (I'm nowhere near the fashion hound I sound: I'd say 40% of guys I see on the street dress better than me.)

Hot guys everywhere make me feel like shit. There's way too many in Chch.

My worst manifestation of OCD is repeating negative affirmations to myself all day. It's not even because I'm feeling them, they are just a OCD twitch like any other thing. Usually it's some variation on "my life sucks", "I'm ugly, or "kill yourself". I'm always trying to correct them, but I often fall off the wagon. I've been on-to-it in the past two days, correcting every one multiple times over with the polar opposite thought. I actually believe my entire reality is created via my thoughts, making me the god of my own universe (and I believe this to the fullest extent possible – into territory many would consider delusional). To believe this is one thing; mustering up the willpower to do it is another. I'm planning these tatttoo designs which will go on the underside of my lower arms, and they'll signify both my spiritual beliefs (namely that my every thought is creating my reality – something I want a constant reminder of), and have various symbols for affirmations I keep forgetting to do. I'm drawing them myself – and that's proven the hard part so far. I've been working away at them for a year.

I was previously keeping a list of things that've gone right for me, to try to surround myself with thoughts of that always happening, but I fell off the wagon there too. That list had things like "Boneless chicken is back at KFC", and I see it is again.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Yanto harkness on 21 July 2008, 06:05:PM
workshop has the best jeans in the country
always be out, it is the only way to live. makes things sooo much easier

Christchurch is a great town, I love it,

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: tangerines on 20 August 2008, 05:53:PM
Heey the guy at Hunters is not gay. He has a girlfriend so sending in your mate to flirt with him may have been a tad awkward. Hope you enjoy being in Christchurch (:

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: eXctrik on 20 August 2008, 06:21:PM
If you haven't done already, go read/steal/watch/borrow or whatever 'The Secret'.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Booyaoi on 21 August 2008, 07:21:PM
All these problems still stand, but one is more pressing than the rest: can someone give me any tips on how to get a job? And something gay-compatible? I'm working at a panel beaters part time – something organised through family. I'm a fish out of water there. I updated my CV; I still can't get a job for the life of me. I'll probably end up at McDonalds – that's if they're even hiring. Short of doorknocking places you'd like to work dropping off your CV (which I've done for Hunters and Collectors, Honour and Obey, and 11 bars I haven't already applied for positions with), what else is there to do? I assume every job advertised on the internet is flooded with applicants, which is why I've had just two interviews for the 13 jobs I've applied for (I'm not counting the ones that were already gone when I applied – there's more of those).

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: clasp 2.0 on 21 August 2008, 09:51:PM
Did you check out the career service kay mentions above?  They can give you *heaps* of ideas about possible career moves.  There  is an online career thingo at thier site you can do as well that will throw up heaps of ideas.  i did it a few years ago when i was an artist considering a career change.  It suggested taxidermist and prison guard- which i though was hilarious.. although now i am working in a prison, as a taxidermist.  (ok i made up the bit about being a taxidermist.. but the rest is true).

Did you ditch your flatmates yet?

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Booyaoi on 23 August 2008, 05:22:PM
I've seen the Career Services site before. I'm too flakey to pick a career – any lowly job will do for me right now if it's fun. Regardless, I'm applying for totally random jobs (IT, retail, office admin, food/beverage service, cleaning, vehicle detailing). I think the market is now oversaturated with jobseekers, so even the jobs which don't require any experience aren't obtainable, as there's always someone who's a more perfect match than me.

I've decided to get a full-time job (or something nearing full-time hours) before moving. People look down on you without a full-time job when flathunting (and of course, it's hard enough looking for a flat that'll allow pets). My current flat comes with one bonus at least: I can do whatever I like in my room – even if it's smokey.

Title: Re: How does one go about getting themselves a life in Christchurch?
Post by: Booyaoi on 27 August 2008, 01:00:PM
First; get on the dole, it’s what it’s for.  One of the depressing things about being depressed, is the way it saps your energy to get stuff happening, and how it works to slowly close down your options.  There is a danger that you will stay off the dole and in the doldrums, and slowly spend all your savings, which will mean you have even fewer options.  Avoid this!

I never knew the government required you spend your savings to get buy, but they do. I've got money I hope to use to buy a house one day, and being over $8000, it's enough to disqualify me from the accommodation supplement – and of course, the basic benefit of $180 a week is not enough to live on (lucky I now get just enough part time hours to meet my regular expenses – the unplanned do force me to spend my savings). I know I'm stupid for being honest to them.

I'm just posting this out of interest; I don't have a right to complain, considering some of the things I spend money on. ;)

(Last night I reached a higher spiritual plane: it felt realer than anything in this life, I wanted to stay there forever, and I begged God to not make me go back down again. I did give up alcohol though.)