Blindsided: My Depression Snuck Up On Me

The past few months have been very strange for me. I have had ups and downs, the way I normally do; however, I haven’t noticed the ups and downs as easily as I usually can. As I write this, it has only just dawned on me that I have basically been so depressed these past few months that I have been blind, even to the very thing that was blinding me: my mental health.

 

Broken

Being blind to my mental health, while it may at first glance seem to be liberating or even preferable over obsessing about mental health, is actually quite a terrifying notion. Coming to realise how blind I have been has awoken a terror in me that I haven’t felt before. I suddenly realise that I have been drifting through life with no real aim. I can now see that I have been neglecting self-care and I have just been on autopilot for so long. I can barely remember what I’ve done over the past few months. How did I get here? It’s almost as if I’ve skipped a portion of my life. There has been action and consequence and my life has changed in many insignificant ways but I don’t know or understand why it has changed because I can’t remember any of the actions or consequences that have taken place. I think that is the most terrifying part, as change is already a scary notion at the best of times; however, not understanding the change makes it all the more scary. This blindness and inability to remember or understand has made me feel broken, in the sense that I am not functioning the way that I should be. I want to fix myself but the task seems so monumental that I don’t know where to begin.

 

Writing

There was a period of time when writing was something about which I was passionate. One of the consequences of being so blind to my mental wellbeing has been neglecting writing. This is something else that scares me. If my brain can cut something that I enjoy so much out of my life without me even realising it, what else is it capable of doing to me? I love writing more than I ever thought I would so why did I dismiss it so willingly? I can’t imagine a version of myself that would do something like that. It isn’t me so who am I? I must be honest, I am tearing up as I write these questions because I can’t fathom the answers and it’s terrifying me. Hopefully writing this post will help me sort the muddle of thoughts in my brain and I’ll be able to understand what is going on.

 

Music

Music is a huge part of my life and it always has been. I have memories of music going as far back as when I was a baby, not even 1 year old. The thing is, though: I haven’t enjoyed music much, if at all during this period of being broken. This is another thing that I love so dearly which has been crushed and almost obliterated by my depression. I read other people’s stories of depression and quite often I can’t relate because of one thing: music. People say that music saved them from their depression because they would lose themselves in their favourite songs or albums or with their favourite bands or artists. I have never been able to lose myself in music when I am depressed because my depression takes music away from me. I really wish that it was different and music helped me when I’m feeling low but it just doesn’t. Even playing my guitar doesn’t interest me when I’m depressed and that is something which I have been doing since I was 8 years old. I need music in my life so why am I so readily giving it up? I don’t think I will ever know the answer to that question.

 

What to Do Now?

Well, what am I to do now? I feel like my life has passed me by in such an extraordinary way. I failed to recognise that I have been in a depression for months. This has scared me and I don’t know right now what I can do. I guess writing this is the first step. I will figure it out eventually but right at this moment, I feel lost; more lost than I’ve ever been in my life. At least, that’s how it feels to me right now.

With all of this being said, my head does now feel a little clearer. I can remember why I started blogging in the first place and I hope I have it in me to continue. The most important thing to me is my mental health and the mental health of others. Breaking the stigma is still very much my goal, I just seemed to forget that recently. Now, that thought has broken my heart. I hope I never forget it again.

Talking Mental Health: 5 Reasons to Talk About Your Mental Health

In this world, it’s always too easy to close yourself off from others and keep your mental health woes to yourself. A lot of the time, you may feel crazy for feeling the way that you do and you can’t relate to others, simply because everybody else seems to have their life together and they project a healthy life; however, the reality of the situation is that many of the people in your day-to-day life can relate to how you are feeling and they will be there for you if you ask for their help.

These are some reasons to talk about your mental health, whether this be with a loved one, a therapist/counsellor or just a voice on the other end of the telephone such as the Samaritans. If you’re struggling to talk, you’ve come to the right place.

1. You Owe it to Yourself

You have been fighting this mental illness on your own for far too long, whether you’ve only recently been stricken with it or you’ve been dealing with it for years. It is mentally exhausting and keeping it bottled up is not doing you any good whatsoever. You owe yourself a break from fighting and the best and healthiest way to do that is to talk to somebody about it. It gives you a feeling of relief and release that nothing else can give. You don’t even need to delve deeply into the subject; you can just tell somebody how you’re feeling to get it off your chest. Once you’ve gotten it out in the open, you will notice an immediate release and you can take a well earned break from stressing about everything. Plus, you never know, whoever you talk to may also be able to give some helpful advice regarding your stresses or your mental health.

2. It Raises Awareness

This is a very important reason for me. If more people talked about their mental health, there would be so much more societal awareness and it would help to fight the stigma. One of the reasons that mental health has been stigmatised is because there is a lack of understanding on the subject. The more that people talk about it, the more that people will understand about it. Whether that just means the number of people suffering with poor mental health becomes more common knowledge or it means that more people come to empathise with others who are struggling, it will be a step in the right direction. Talk about your mental illness and fight the stigma!

3. It Helps Your Loved Ones

Now, don’t get me wrong, your mental health is all about you and nothing will change that. It may be strange at first to think that talking about your mental health could help your loved ones but it really does help them. The reason I say this is because your friends and family worry about you. When you’re closing yourself off, they worry about what might be wrong with you. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them you’re fine, they’re not stupid and they will always see through it. They can see that you are suffering and if you keep everything to yourself then it will only make them feel worse. Talk to them about whatever is bothering you. Talk to them about your mental illness and how it makes you feel and act. If they even begin to understand what is going on in your head and why you are retreating all the time, they will worry less and they may even get to know how to help you in your dark times.

4. It Puts Things Into Perspective

One of the worst things about keeping things bottled up is that things get blown way out of proportion when they are kept in your head. You will over think things and build them up to the point where it becomes unbearable. That is dangerous. Both for you and for those around you. Your behaviour has the potential to be very unpredictable when you build things up to that point. It has the potential to make you suicidal. Please do everything you can to stop things from building up like that. The first place to start is to talk about it. This puts things into perspective and allows you to see the issue for what it is; not for what it’s been built up to in your mind. Merely talking about how you are feeling will put it into words, which can be analysed. Talking about it also makes it a tangible thing, which can be looked back on with hindsight. If you keep it bottled up, it only exists in your head and can’t be tangible; for you or for your loved ones. Put it out there. Get it into a tangible form and use it as a tool to help your mental health.

5. It Encourages Others to Talk

We all like to relate to other people. There is not another feeling like it. Part of relating to others is being able to imitate good behaviour or take inspiration from somebody else. In my case, it was when I started reading other people’s blogs that I started relating to people from a mental health perspective. I could see that these people were talking about their illnesses, which must have taken a lot of courage. It was this courage from other people that inspired me to talk about my own mental illness. I like to think that other people reading my blog have taken inspiration to do the same. If even one person has been spurred on by my posts to talk about their mental health, that is an amazing thing to me. Now it’s your turn. I hope that reading this post has helped you to see that talking about it is very, very important and I hope that it may inspire you to do so.

Don’t be afraid to talk. Don’t let the stigma drag you down. Don’t let things build up in your head. Don’t let your loved ones worry about you all the time. Don’t feed the stigma that is stopping others from coming out.

Talk about it.

Love and Peace

The Return of the Beard

I’m Back!

Well, it certainly has been quite some time since I talked about my life. I have missed blogging terribly but my life was so busy that I just could not keep on top of writing, along with everything else.

Since I last wrote a wee update, I’ve started a new job, come off my meds and I’ve been practicing more self care. I am definitely in a much better place than I was the last time I wrote. I guess, in some ways, that makes it a little bit more difficult to write; mainly because I am so used to writing whenever things are going wrong or whenever I am feeling like the pits. Well, inspiration has struck and I will take this wherever it may take me. You all will just need to deal with whatever drivel I unload into this post.

My New Job

I think that this new job has made the biggest difference to my mental health over the last few months. It seems to have been the thing which catapulted me into a better place. That is in no small part thanks to the fact that I seem to have found a job where I feel appreciated. It is also a relatively new development within the company I’m working for, which means there is a lot of room for progression. I am still aiming for a job as a teacher or a trainer and it seems an opportunity like that may come up pretty soon within this project!

I am still doing training, despite starting the job in November 2018. The fact that they provide 12 weeks of training for this role shows me that they are invested in their staff and it is a huge difference from my last employer. It has lead me to feel more relaxed and at peace with my job, which something I have not felt for a very long time. I am nearing the end of training, which is only 2 weeks away and I already feel like I am ready to do the job well. I am excited to work hard and show them what I’m capable of!

Off My Meds?

Yep, you read that right. I am currently cold turkey on my meds and have been for around 2 months now. Don’t get the wrong idea, this was not purely a conscious decision for my mental health. The meds were definitely helping me. The reason I stopped taking them was simply that I ran out and I suddenly became too busy with work that I forgot to refill the prescription. Since then, the new job and better mindset has kept me going and I have not really felt like I need them; however, there have been times when I have felt incredibly intense depression and anxiety. I think my body is telling me that I need that chemical balance again and it is struggling to cope. I haven’t yet decided whether or not I will go back on them but I do feel that it would be a good idea. I will keep you posted on this, for sure.

More Self-Care

I have never been very good at looking after myself. All I have ever been good at is surviving. Well, since I left home and had to look after myself without my parents being there 24/7 anyway. I would always find myself doing the bare minimum in terms of staying clean and healthy and also in keeping myself fed. Lately, however, I have been making sure that I follow a daily routine, which includes washing, looking smart, being productive and and setting aside time to cook meals. I have been making meals that I can take to work, which has made me feel very proud of myself. I have been making lovely meals for dinner in the evening, which has made me feel more creative and just happy in general. I have also been making sure that I change into my PJs when I get home then having some tea and biscuits. This makes me feel a lot more relaxed and content. These may all sound like silly little things to the average person but all of them have added up. All of them together make me feel mentally healthy, even if it is just for brief periods. Long may it continue!

I still feel very much like my mental illness has a vice like grip on me and I don’t think that will change any time soon. The demons are being kept at bay for now but they are still lurking. Can I keep them away long enough each day so that I can continue feeling good about myself? I will certainly try my hardest.

What’s in Store?

Well, now that I am in a better place and feeling motivated, I have decided to continue blogging in my spare time! I will be updating this as often as I can. I also will be doing my Twitter chats, retweets and mental health awareness support on Twitter. I will do my best to upload more content to my YouTube channel, as believe it or not I am still super excited to have that medium available in my fight against the stigma of mental health. I thoroughly enjoyed making my first 2 videos and will definitely be continuing with the project.

This is all a lot to handle and keep on top of so I will of course be keeping an eye on my mental health in case the pressure of everything ends up being too detrimental. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with everything.

Thank You!

I would just like to end this post with a heart-felt thank you to all of you who have stuck by my side whilst I have been away from blogging. You know who you are and I cannot express just how much I really appreciate it.

Until next time!

Love and Peace

I Am Not Okay

I have made leaps and bounds with my mental health and some of the good days that I have had lately have been absolutely amazing. I have experienced many moments of absolute clarity, when I feel invincible and I can see my path laid out before me. There is just one little problem and I am not okay because of this: the comedown from these moments. It is relentless and I have not been able to push it back.

The Comedown

When I am feeling good, I know exactly what I must do to take care of myself and put my mental health first. I understand the importance of seeing the comedowns for that which they really are – the bad with the good; nothing more and nothing less. I know that I should be thinking about the bigger picture and allowing these moments to pass but when it comes to it, I just cannot. I end up falling down into the pits again, my brain refusing to let me do anything. I have spent the majority of my time in my bed. I feel helpless and unable to move. I want to move so badly… but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to get up and do the things I know I need to do.

This has been and will continue to be the hardest, most debilitating and most soul crushing battle that I have ever had to fight. I want to keep fighting and I know I will; I am just losing the energy to keep it up. I cannot see how I am going to keep moving forward.

I hope that I see another light again soon so that I can continue the fight.

Love and Peace

Not Everybody is Like You

I’m sat here, thinking to myself. I’m in danger of my thoughts taking me to somewhere very dark and negative so I thought I would write something meaningful and keep my brain in line.

The thought occurred to me that I often get hurt by other people. The majority of the time, this hurt is not intentional by the offending party but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. How could they have been so thoughtless and inconsiderate that they would do something which would hurt me so much? Am I overreacting? Would another person like myself be hurt in the same way? I like to think that everybody else would feel the same way as I do but that, quite frankly, just isn’t the case.

Although there are bound to be people out there who think and feel the way I do, the reality is that a majority of humankind is so different from me. What is offensive or hurtful to me, will be nothing to a great percentage of my peers. This is quite hard to accept, as we all seek to relate to others in one way or another. If we can’t relate to them because of a differing opinion or feeling over something, it becomes harder to connect with them. Harder but not impossible, I might add.

One thing that I often reinforce for people who are having a difficult time and feel like they are overreacting or just acting crazy, is that their feelings are valid. They are valid because it is what is going on in their mind and they feel that way whether they like or not. Perhaps I should remember that piece of advice when it comes to my own mental health and my own feelings of being hurt. It is valid that I feel hurt because, whether I like it or not, I feel that way. What’s important is how I approach the situation and whether or not I am able to figure out why I’m hurt and if it was justified. There is a difference between something being valid and something being justified. I think we all need to find that line, in all aspects of our lives.

This was a bit of a ramble but I hope it’s been thought provoking. Have a wonderful Saturday evening.

Love and Peace

I’m Back! Wee Life Update

Hello!

I have been very quiet as of late and I feel a little guilty for closing myself off; however, I recognise that it has been for my own mental health and I have to say: I am feeling much better for taking the time off from social media and my blog. Before I get into it, I would like to give a shoutout to the people who have checked in on me whilst I have been quiet. You know who you are and I want you to know that it means the world to me.

Well, I have always said that I will continue to blog as long as I am enjoying it and it is helping me so here I am. I think it’s about time that I give you all a wee life update and let you know how I have been getting on; the good and the bad.

The Downward Spiral

A few weeks ago, I started feeling the side effects of my antedepressants very badly. I was experiencing sickness and diarrhoea. It was horrible and I was off work because of it. I knew that these were possible side effects so I tried to roll with it and wait until I got better; however, it took a little longer than I had anticipated for the side effects to subside. Now, this is where things start to get really bad. The side effects had really affected me physically more than anything else and my sleeping pattern had been badly affected. I was up until all hours of the night and the morning, which obviously did not help with my routine or my mental health. Thus begun the downward spiral.

My mental health began to deteriorate and it only did so quicker and quicker, until my anxiety was so bad that I could not face going into work. I knew by this point that my mental heath was very important and if my brain was telling me that I shouldn’t be in work then I should listen to it and look after myself. I tried this and stayed off work to give my brain as much of a break as I could. Except, I had no idea how much this would eventually affect me in the long run. I was about to hit the lowest point of my struggle with depression up to this point. Days off work turned very quickly into a week and before I knew it, I was off for 3 full weeks. As I started preparing to go back to work, it hit me: I don’t get sick pay from my employer and I have rent and bills to pay at the end of the month. This realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks and I was absolutely floored with my depression. I instantly felt numb, like my brain had just shut down in order to protect me from the anguish that was realising my failure and the impossible situation with which I was now faced. This numbness was very familiar to me by this point but there was something else… something new. I suddenly no longer wanted to be here anymore. I didn’t want to live as somebody who had failed so miserably and fallen so low that I would not be able to pick myself back up. Some of you may be thinking that I was feeling suicidal and you would be forgiven for assuming this; however, I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t having feelings of ending my own life; I was having feelings of no longer wanting to exist anymore. It is difficult to explain but I hope that others have felt this as strongly as I have and they will be able to relate to it. If you have, get in touch and tell me about it.

On the Up ‘n’ Up!

I was in the pits for what felt like an age but it was actually only a couple of days. I knew that I had to do something positive and at least try to get myself out of this difficult situation so I did. I arranged to go over to my mum and dad’s house for dinner on the Sunday. I have been in situations before where I am hesitant to talk to my mum and dad about certain subjects but let me tell you: this one was a doozy. Not only was I in a financial crisis but I had to tell them the reason why I was. It meant having to talk about my mental health to a degree that I had never had to reach before. This was scary stuff… but I did my best to stay positive and remember that my mum and dad are there for me. They are my family and they always have and always will be. My maw ‘n’ da!

Well, after dinner, I plucked up the courage and spoke to them about everything. The side effects, the spiral into nothingness, the time off work and the financial troubles. I would be lying if I said they weren’t taken aback and a little upset with me; I had, after all, neglected to tell them that I had been suffering. With that being said, they were absolutely wonderful and more supportive than I could ever have imagined. They were my light at the end of the tunnel. My saviours and my heroes. I could see clearer than ever before that tey are my rock. This feeling of love and support filled my heart to the brim but at the same time, it lifted a huge weight off from my shoulders and allowed me to relax for the first time in weeks. This was the beginning of my gradual climb back up towards being myself again and do you know what? I haven’t stoped climbing! To this day, I am feeling better with each day that passes and I can feel my positive outlook coming back. I don’t know if this is due to the dosage of my meds being increased or if I have somehow had some sort of epiphany during all of the anguish or even during my climb back up. All I know is that I feel fantastic. Will this feeling last? No, it wont… but a big part of me now realises that and knows that it won’t be the end of the world when I drop back down a little. I know that I have support in many places and I don’t need to suffer.

What Now?

You might be wondering: what’s going on now that you’ve managed to fight your way back up, Duncan? To be quite honest, not a lot has been going on recently. I have been taking a lot of time for myself. I have been chilling out and getting a good night’s sleep for work as often as I can. I have been eating as well as possible on this tight budget and I have been seeing my friends and family whenever I can. Now that I feel like I am in a better place, I will be able to write more often. I will be able to start making more videos for my YouTube channel. I will be able to enjoy my life, as well as ensure that I am a more active member of this wonderful blogging and Mental Health Awareness community. I want to start really making a difference in the world of mental health and what better time to do it other than when I am feeling positive and productive?

I will probably be looking for other bloggers to collaborate with in the near future. Already, I am in talks with somebody about a few different projects and I have been in touch with one of my favourite bloggers about doing a collab with them very soon. We had planned to publish a post for World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10th October but life got in the way for both of us and in the end this wasn’t possible. We will be getting together very soon, I hope. It’s going to be a very busy time for me and I couldn’t be happier about that. I will of course still be doing my #BeardedChat and keeping up with my @BeardedRT account, as well as keeping you all updated on my personal/blogging Twitter, @TalesofaBeard. There has never been a better time to follow my blog. I promise you that it will be a very exciting, thought-provoking and even funny time for all of you who are keen to keep up with my goings on.

Why don’t you join me for it all?

Love and Peace

Today, I Was Feeling Down

Here is my latest video! It is a proper vlog this time around and I had so much fun making it! Like and subscribe to keep up to date with my vlog!

 

 

Love and Peace