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Monstrous Agonies E16S01 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Sixteen.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through classical music, pop music and inaudible speech before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-crashed unbidden through the gates of hell.
It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time for our weekly advice segment. Our first listener is finding it hard to reconcile their new circumstances with their old outlook.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I'm going to live forever. I mean, barring a very particular series of events involving the winter solstice, two and a half virgins, and the zest of one lemon. Otherwise, yeah. Eternity.
It's a fairly new development and not one I exactly opted into. Not that I feel particularly tragic about it. On the list of Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Me, it doesn't really rate higher than my GCSE Maths exam.
The difficult part is... It's hard to explain. I was... quite badly depressed for most of my teenage years and into my twenties. I don't really want to go into detail, the prescient part was the overwhelming feeling that nothing mattered. Nothing I did,. Nothing I was.
And then, I got a bit older, figured some things out, got a lot of therapy, and a job that paid enough that I could actually afford to think about anything except how I was going to pay my bills. I got better. Not all better, I mean. Not best. But better.
And a big part of it was saying to myself, actually, I was right. I don't matter. Not in the grand scheme of things, not really. We're all just these little, shiny blips against the vast, unknowable universe. So why not eat that second bowl of ice cream, or ask the girl in your history class out for a coffee, or write your novel-length fanfiction.
I realised that the only thing that makes anything mean anything is whether we care about it. That's all you have to do. Just care about it. It matters, because it matters to you.
Obviously, that's easier said than done. One of the main things depression makes it really hard to do is care. But I got there, slowly. And I took comfort in the fact that in 100 years, I'll be gone and forgotten. It sounds sad like that but it, it wasn't. It was liberating.
And now, that's gone. Nothing is permanent... except me. And I don't know what to do with that. I don't think I can 'make things matter' indefinitely. I'm trying not to let it bring me down, but I can see that big, dark cloud brewing on the horizon. And I know I can beat it because I've done it every time before and I can do it again. But... I'm going to need some help with this one. So, this is me. Asking for help.
The Presenter (as themselves)
Listener, I say this with the utmost sincerity – well done. You've done fantastically well this far, and I agree, you will get through this.
You talk in your letter about facing eternity, forever, that you are permanent. I disagree. You're no more a permanent fixture in the universe now than you were before. Over time, the person you are will grow into someone new, with different experiences and perspectives, until they seem at most a distant cousin to the person you once were. You found comfort in your own impermanence before – that comfort is still there, if you want it.
There are really as many philosophies of significant longevity as there are significantly long-lived people. Some take it as an opportunity for constant change, reinventing themselves as tastes and fashions move them, while others take their lives as an extended project of development, refining their sense of self until they become an almost crystallised version of themselves. And of course, many simply carry on as before, taking their life as it comes and rolling with the punches.
The more perspectives you hear, the better equipped you'll be to explore your own feelings and philosophies. Your local library will be a good starting point for both practical information about social groups in your area, and to point you in the right direction if you want to do more research.
I also recommend some therapy, especially since you've found it helpful in the past. Look for a therapist with experience in longevity and acquired conditions.
You already know you have the skills and determination to get through this. Have faith in yourself. If I may risk an Americanism – you've got this.
On the topic of therapy, and if I might make a brief aside, I have received some complaints in the last few months pursuant to a letter I answered in
November from a listener struggling to find work after an unexpected gap in their CV.
I offered some information about finding specialist mental health support from a certain group within the community. Some listeners have taken objection to my sharing this information.
Listeners, I would like you know, your complaints have been received, your concerns have been heard, and that I do not apologise. The information I gave was accurate and necessary, and I am not beholden by any obligation or prohibition from the group which it concerned.
Some listeners have even taken it upon themselves to tell me I have angered a certain figurehead in that community. To which I say, if she has a problem with the way I perform my duties, she may bring it up with me herself. She knows where I am – and how that conversation is likely to go. Until then, I will continue to do my job, and support my listeners as I see fit.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network – the UK's only dedicated radio service for the creature community.
[End background music]
Our second letter this evening is from a parent looking to support their child through a recent discovery.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
As soon as I held my son for the first time, I knew I would never love anything as much as I love him. He was perfect. Completely perfect! He's fifteen now and yeah, he has his teenage moments, but he's still perfect.
He's wicked funny, always up to mischief and getting into scrapes. But he's kind as well, the first to get stuck in if someone needs a hand. Ever since he was little, he's been a bit different to other kids.
Part of that was his autism, and when we started to see other signs, I think we both put them down to autism as well – like, the way he always takes things literally, or how important it is to him to know the proper social rules and stick to them.
I remember one time we went to a village fete and he was having a great time until we got to the horseshoe toss. He had a meltdown, poor thing. My wife and I put it down to being overstimulated but looking back...
There are some things, though, that we just couldn't ignore. He's got this way with animals, almost like he can understand them or something. The cat dotes on him, and she is very picky. He's planning on doing veterinary science after his A Levels, and I just know he'll be brilliant at it.
And he's got the most incredible luck – any kind of game of chance or guessing game, he always wins hands down. We'll have a chat with him about gambling and so on when he's a bit older.
So, yeah, we had our suspicions. Still, it's not like there's a tick list for this stuff. The only person who can know for sure is him, and we didn't want to rush him. So we just concentrated on loving him to bits and showing him that whatever happens, we'll always be there for him.
He was on the family computer the other day, and I went on after him and, uh... Well, I guess he forgot to wipe his search history, poor love. He's been researching. Looking up, you know. Common traits. Things to look out for. How do you know if...
My wife and I decided to give him some time and space to work things out – though I might have left a few relevant books out where he could find them. Want to make sure he's getting good info, you know.
That was a couple of months ago. Last week, I went into his bedroom to clean while he was at football. I let him know I was going in that day so he could tidy up a bit, I'm sure there's things in there I don't want to know about any more than he wants me to know about them! When I went to empty the bin and a bit of paper caught my eye. It said, “To Mum and Dad, this is really hard to write.”
I know I shouldn't have read it. I know it was an invasion of privacy. But I was worried. I was scared he'd think there was something wrong with him. Or that we wouldn't want him because he wasn't, you know. Ours.
He'd tried so many times, writing it, crossing it out, trying different phrases. There were a few things in there I think he copied straight off the internet, they were so formal and serious, not like him at all.
I hate to think of him bottling this up. I don't suppose we can just tell him we know, can we? Do we just have to wait for him to come out with it? And when he does tell us, how should we react? It's obviously important to him, I don't want to be dismissive. But at the same time, nothing is really changing. He's our little boy. Our beautiful, brilliant boy. He always will be. What can we do to let him know it's alright?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm afraid there isn't anything you can do but wait, listener. I understand your urge to reassure your son, but he needs to come to you in his own time.
It sounds like he's well one his way to approaching you about this – it's only been a couple of months since his first forays into exploring the possibility of his other nature, and already he's gearing up to share the news with you and your wife. Take that as a good sign.
With that in mind, if he does take a little longer than you expect to bring this up with you, don't worry. As long as you keep up the good work of making him feel loved and secure, reassuring him that you are his family, regardless of how he came into your life, I feel sure he'll come to you when the time is right for him.
When he does, resist the urge to tell him that you've always known. This is about him telling you so much more than what he is. He's telling you he trusts you, he wants to share this side of himself with you, and he wants you with him on this journey.
It sounds as if you and your wife have a good handle on the situation. As long as you move forwards with the same patience, kindness and honesty that you've demonstrated this far, you'll be fine. I assure you - your son is in very good hands.
That's all for our advice segment this evening. Up next, how to use plant life to decorate your home. Living with little to no natural light is a necessary precaution for many people, but that doesn't mean...
[The Presenter's voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through static, a voice saying “-quite frankly, you-”, opera music, and piano music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Sixteen of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
This week's first letter is based on a submission from Ty. Thanks, friend!
To submit your own letters and suggestions, head over to our website at MonstrousAgonies.co.uk, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Tumblr at Monstrous Agonies.
Big shout out this week to our latest patrons, Brittany and Rachel!
You can support the programme by pledging as little as £1 a month at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, by rating and reviewing us on iTunes, and by sharing the programme with your friends and familiars.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence]