Letter to My Brain

Hi. Remember me? I sometimes wonder if you do as, to me, you seem like a stranger. I don’t recognise you anymore so it would only make sense that you don’t recognise me.

I have seen a few other bloggers do this (most notably RuthinRevolt & BeardedIgor) and I thought I would give it a try. Let’s see how it turns out:

 

“Dear Brain,

 

Hi. Remember me? I sometimes wonder if you do as, to me, you seem like a stranger. I don’t recognise you anymore so it would only make sense that you don’t recognise me.

 

I hope to help you remember with this letter, as I am getting pretty fed up with your attempts to ruin relationships, jobs, finances and my health. It needs to stop and it will benefit both of us, I promise. You will understand when you remember who I am.

 

I am the man who used to be more laid back than The Dude. Well, maybe that’s just, like, my opinion, man. Still, I was so laid back that I never let anything negative bother me. It was all water off a duck’s back. I just continued doing the things I loved and I had fun with life. Anything ringing a bell?

 

I am the man who used be happy with his life and relationships. Who rarely second guessed himself or over-thought about anything. Things were straight-forward and simple. Still nothing?

 

I am the man who used to have ambitions. Who wanted to work with his one true love: music. Who wanted to write and sell music, play on stage to adoring (lol) fans and tour the world. Who wanted to record other people’s music and help other people realise their potential. Who wanted to be a teacher. Anything at all yet?

 

I am the man who used to find the funny side of everything. Who would laugh at himself when he was being ridiculous and start over. Who would pounce on every opportunity to share that laughter and joy with his friends and family. You must be starting to see it now?

 

Maybe this one will jog your memory: I am the man who used to love with all of his heart. Who found joy in every situation. Who did everything he could to help the people he cares about feel better and succeed. Who loved himself and the things for which he stood.

 

The man I am describing is nowhere to be seen right now. Maybe once you remember him, you can help me find him again? Please? I can’t do this without your help.

 

What are we doing today then, Brain? The same thing we do every day: try to sabotage every aspect of my life? I hope not. “Try to take over the world” always had a better ring to it, in my opinion.

 

Let’s try to get along better. I will try to take better care of you but you need to take care of me too. There can’t be a disconnect, otherwise we will just continue to hurt each other.

 

I’m willing to try if you are.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Duncan”

 

brain-cartoon-drawing-57

 

Well, that went a lot better than I expected. Thanks for reading.

 

Love and Peace

 

 

 

 

One Small Step for a Beard…

Well, I’ve made another step towards managing my mental health. It’s not an easy one and I’m feeling very anxious about seeing it through: I made an appointment with my doctor.

This has been something that I’ve tried to do in the past but there was always something stopping it from happening; whether it was no appointments being available or my anxiety stopping me from pursuing it. I’ve generally been anxious about seeing my doctor recently, anyway. I don’t know why but I have a feeling it’s an extension of how I’ve been feeling the last couple of years, with my sudden change from being a happy-go-lucky guy to being a twisted, depressed sack of meat and bones.

I’ve never been great at taking medication. I think that’s because I haven’t been ill very often in my life and my body can generally fight off anything that’s thrown at it. Upon reflection, my anxiety in this particular situation may stem from that: knowing that there’s a high probability my doctor will prescribe anti-depressants. I have heard both good and bad things about them but to me they are quite scary. Not something I ever thought I would need to use.

This step that I took today in booking the appointment is a small one in the grand scheme of things. Although, it is a giant leap in terms of my progress. Here’s hoping that it helps.

Love and Peace.

Worthless

I have been doing very well in coping with my mental health problems these last couple of weeks. I honestly felt happy, for the most part. Of course, when you’re happy, it’s easy to forget that you will be sad again at some point. I am feeling very down today.

 

I woke up and didn’t get out of bed. I haven’t moved from this space in 3 hours. I’m hungry but I don’t want to make food. I’m thirsty but I don’t want to get water or tea. I can’t get up to go to the bathroom. I just feel paralysed. When I woke up, an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness came over me. It’s an all too familiar feeling. One that I hadn’t felt in a while, since I was doing so well mentally. I don’t know what to do with myself. I know that getting out of bed and doing something will help me. Maybe writing this blog will help even a little. I just can’t bring myself to do much more than this. I feel a panic attack coming on right now, as I type this. I think it’s because I’ve overwhelmed myself with thoughts that I’m pathetic and worthless.

Worthless

There’s also something else that I have been struggling with for a few months. It has been constantly on my mind and it’s difficult to push it out: I have fallen head over heels in love and I can’t be with her. Life in all of its glory has made sure of that. The circumstances just don’t allow for it right now. I have been hoping that things would gradually get better but they have just remained a constant and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing any time in the near future. We have talked about our feelings for each other and we both agree that neither of us is in the right frame of mind or life circumstance for a relationship. We have agreed that letting things happen naturally is the best way to move forward. For the most part, I have felt that it is indeed the best way; however, having anxiety in situations like this really doesn’t help at all. My tendency to over think gets in the way. It almost caused a complete break in our relationship just the other day, as I said some things that implied she didn’t really love me and she was just telling me what I wanted to hear. It was a dick move and I felt horrible almost immediately after I said it. Yet another example of anxiety and over thinking putting a strain on relationships. I have flooded my head with so many thoughts about our relationship that it has caused me to have full-blown anxiety attacks. I worry that I will lose her. It’s a horrible feeling, being worried that you will lose somebody. I don’t want to be dependent on somebody but I love this girl and I want her to be in my life. It’s another thing that makes me feel pathetic and worthless, as a lot of the time I feel like I am nowhere near good enough for her. If she were to read this, I may even get a slap in the face for being such a silly bastard. It’s just something I struggle to keep under control.

Love

This has just been a few thoughts on how I’m feeling today. I needed to get some things out of my head and down on paper (or on a laptop). I am feeling a little better for doing it. I do still feel pretty worthless but hopefully I can snap myself out of it soon.

 

Love and Peace.

Self-Care

One of the things that I have realised, on a huge level, is that taking care of yourself is probably the most important thing in life. It is so fundamental that I think many people today forget to do it. A part of me thinks that the reason for this is because there is a heightened sense, in today’s culture, of people needing to remain connected with one another. Since the advent of social media, more and more people are staying connected, whether this be through online messaging apps, social media websites or any other forms of social media. As we can send our friends and family messages in an instant, the consensus seems to be that a response to that message should also be instantaneous (or as instantaneous as possible). I will admit: I have allowed myself to have this mentality for a very long time. It has led to increased over thinking and anxiety, which has not helped my mental health at all.

 

Given that anxiety can be a very powerful emotion, which takes over my thoughts and can sometimes cause me to feel paralysed, it has the potential to cause me to lose perspective and forget to take care of myself. Of course, anxiety and depression don’t always go hand in hand but when it gets to that crippling stage, my anxiety will more often than not make me feel pathetic and worthless, which will cause me to have a bad depressive episode. When I am depressed, nothing in my life matters. Even if I can bring myself to go to work, I will do the bare minimum to survive. I have talked in my previous posts about my day-to-day routine when going through a depressive episode and it takes the form of waking up mere minutes before I need to leave for work, working my shift, coming home, eating dinner and going to bed. There was very little (if any) self-care in my routine.

 

I came to realise that making sure I took care of myself is very important for my own mental wellbeing. It also bled into my day-to-day life and allowed me to set long-term goals. Those of you who have been reading my blog up to this point will know that I have been making little to-do lists for myself. My to-do lists are always broken up into two sections: “Must Do” and “Extras”. The aim each day is to complete the tasks on my “Must Do” list; anything from the “Extras” list that I managed to do was then a bonus and I saw it as a win, whether this be one task or five. Now, the main idea behind this was that all of the tasks on the “Must Do” list would be things that I should do to take care of myself. I stripped everything back to the fundamentals and the basics of living. Things like “eat food”, “drink water”, “brush teeth”, etc. You may think that putting these things on a to-do list is strange or even stupid and I would understand if you did think that; however, it has been something that has really helped me. Going back to basics and making sure that I took care of myself in the simplest terms has been infinitely beneficial to both my mental health and my life. By ticking each thing off from a to-do list, I gave myself a sense of accomplishment. Once everything on the self-care side of the list has been completed, I call it a win and I don’t put too much pressure on myself to anything else that isn’t as essential. Removing the pressure from my life and taking each day one step at a time has calmed my brain and I have found that my anxiety does not interrupt my life anywhere near as much as it used to (although it has not disappeared completely, I feel like I am managing to cope a lot better with it).

 

It has had an effect on my day-to-day life that I would never have dreamt. It has given me a different perspective on my life. Completing my to-do lists each day and appreciating the sense of accomplishment made me realise that I can accomplish things. It made me realise that I can do things if I set my mind to them. It gave me a strong motivation to better myself even further. This led to me looking at other aspects of my life that were potentially holding me back in terms of my happiness and mental health. In my post “Finding Fulfilment”, I describe this in more detail as being the moment when I found my path in life and set myself long-term goals for my career and home life. Honestly, going from feeling worthless and pathetic to feeling like I actually have something to offer this world, more importantly, to offer myself, has been incredible. Such a simple thing as looking after myself has been a catalyst of my life blossoming in so many ways.

 

Of course, I can’t forget another important side effect of ensuring that you are taking care of yourself: it allows you to take care of others and change things around you for the greater good. If you don’t look after yourself, how will you be any good at taking care of others? If you can’t identify things that you are doing wrongly in your own life and resolve them, how can you identify things that are wrong in the world and resolve them. This is a very important thing to keep in mind and it is something that I will think about for the rest of my life.

 

Love and Peace.

Over Thinking

This is not something that I have done all of my life but I have not been able to pin point exactly when it was that I started doing it. I am sure there must have been some sort of trigger that caused me to start over thinking and ever since then, it has been the bane of my life. It affects relationships, ruins your day and makes you feel like you are the most annoying, pathetic piece of shit on the planet.

 

I might over think about the food I have left until pay-day. I might over think about a party that I am supposed to be attending and the people who will be there (although I think that may tie in a little better with social anxiety, it still involves over thinking).  I might over think when somebody I care about doesn’t reply to my messages; or worse, changes the way they speak to me. There are many things that might cause my brain to go into an endless, obsessive cycle of over thinking and it is very difficult to drag myself out of that cycle. It usually needs to be somebody else who pulls me out.

 

One of the most annoying things about my over thinking is that I am a very logical and pragmatic person. This means that, when I am over thinking, I can see how stupid I am being but I can’t stop myself. It makes me feel weak, needy and (probably most frustrating) like I am attention seeking. Of course, none of these things are true about me and I can see that when I have a clear head; however, when my head isn’t clear and all I can see is that one thing which is making me over think, I am all of these things. This can ruin relationships quicker than almost anything else. If I need somebody else to pull me out of the vicious cycle, more often than not, it will come in the form of reassurance. Reassurance that I’m not being an idiot, reassurance that everything is fine and you’re not annoyed with me, reassurance that nobody at the party will start anything with you, reassurance that I haven’t just said something to upset you, etc., etc. When somebody needs constant reassurance, they can become a burden. They can become somebody who everybody else wants to avoid. They can go from being someone you once loved and admired to being someone who is a chore and a drain on your energy. That is a tough thing to handle and I know it. Before I started struggling with anxiety and over thinking, I had friends who were exactly like this and I handled it. I handled it very well. I made sure that I was there for them and I made sure that they knew I understood (even though I had no idea that I couldn’t possibly fully understand until I had actually experienced it myself). I think one of the reasons I get so anxious about my over thinking is because I know what it is like to deal with somebody like that. I put myself in other people’s shoes and worry that they will see me as a burden. Of course, that just adds to the anxiety and makes me over think even more. The vicious cycle.

 

Over thinking may be an extension of anxiety, which means that the tried and tested grounding techniques that I have come to know should help bring myself out of my own head. I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it before so I will keep it in mind and hopefully remember them the next time my brain goes off on one. In the meantime, I guess I will just keep looking for pragmatic ways to reduce the amount of time that I spend over thinking. I suppose I may benefit from hindsight, looking back on previous times and analysing the situations, looking for things in those situations that I could learn from and that could help me to reassure myself; or maybe analysing the situations will just make me feel worse. I won’t know until I try.

 

Love and Peace.

The Bus Chronicles: Wrong Turn

I was not happy about having to be in work today in the first place (there is a whole other story that I may delve into at some point); however, what happened with my bus this morning just put me into an even worse mood and I cannot wait to get home.

The Women’s Great Scottish Run took place today (it may even still be taking place as I write this and I can see it from the office if I look out of the window). I forgot about this and assumed that I would have my usual, easy journey to work. I didn’t want to be in work but I had settled into the fact that I had to just deal with it and I was up for a chilled bus journey to the office. Needless to say, this did not happen. You know that feeling you get when you’re on a bus and the driver takes a wrong turn? The feeling of confusion and panic, as you watch your destination fade into the distance and behind buildings? The moment that you realise not will you not make it to work on time but you have no idea where you might end up? Has the bus driver lost it and just decided to do whatever the hell he wants? Yeah, those feelings all happen. Sometimes one by one and sometimes all at once, simultaneously. It was not a good feeling.

When I managed to calm my brain down and think rationally (it didn’t take long; it’s surprising how quickly the human brain can cycle through thoughts and emotions), I thought to myself “maybe he’s taking a diversion, I didn’t pay enough attention to see any diversion signs on the road“. I waited and watched the route the driver was taking, paying close attention to any signs that he might end up back on the normal route… nope. That didn’t happen. By the time I realised I wasn’t going anywhere near the office, I was in Govan, at the bus station. The driver saw me in his rear view mirror and beckoned for me to come over. I grabbed my bag and sidled up to the front, asking as I drew nearer “has there been a diversion today, mate?” The driver replied: “Aye mate, it’s the Great Scottish Run, the road along the river has been closed.” Okay. That’s fine. I felt a little better knowing that he wasn’t just having a rebellious moment and throwing caution to the wind. “You can get the next bus going back into town and get off at the squinty bridge.” Right, I had a plan to get back into town and get to work. I got off the bus and called the office, telling them exactly what had happened and that I would be late but I didn’t know exactly how late. This was fine.

I waited for the next bus, which only took a few minutes. As I got on the bus, I showed my ticket to the driver and said: “I need to get off at the squinty bridge, can you let me know when we’re at the right stop, y’know, because of the diversion?“….I got a confused look from this driver and wondered if he maybe wasn’t sure which stop I meant. I went to explain myself further, when he stopped me and made my mood even worse… “It’s alright, buddy, I’m going the normal route. The run doesn’t start ’til half 10.” This should have been a saving grace, at a time when I thought I was going to be late for work and was now going to make it by the skin of my teeth. No. It wasn’t a saving grace in my head. In my head, it was just confirmation that the previous driver had absolutely no need to take the diversion and I should have already been walking up to the front foor of the office and counting down the hours until I could go home… but no. Instead, I had been led on a wild adventure through Glasgow for no bloody reason at all. You can imagine I wasn’t happy.

Since then, I have been laughing about it with my colleagues but the rage is still there somewhere. I just want to go home and chill out with my music and eat food.

Finding Fulfilment

I am quite scared of this post coming across as a cliché, as I realised when thinking about the topic that it is pretty cheesy and probably over done, to an extent. Well, especially when it comes to motivational speeches and finding your fulfilment in life.

The truth is, I was never really a fan of motivational speeches, articles or books. I can’t really put my finger on the reason why, looking back on it. There was just something about them that made my brain shut down. I guess we all have those things that we tend to avoid. Although, if I were to hazard a guess as to the reason I wasn’t fond of them, it may be that I never thought I would have any use for them. Here we go: my naivety shining through again. It makes me cringe how naive I used to be, while at the same time thinking I was so right and so down to earth. Just like my naive thoughts that I would never have issues with mental health. I would go back and slap myself if I had a time machine.

I watched a lot of motivational videos whenever I felt lost during spells of depression. They came from a lot of different sources but the majority of the speeches in the videos were by one Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. You may have heard of him, given the controversy that recently surrounded his YouTube videos and TV interviews; however, the videos I am referring to were recorded before all of that and most of them were excerpts from his psychology lectures at the University of Toronto. It makes sense that he should know about mental illness and how to combat it and cope with it psychologically. A lot of the things he said made sense, including “get your life in order“.

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know that it was bringing order to my life that really helped me to begin to cope with my mental health issues. As part of this process of finding and bringing order to my life, I realised very quickly that my job was not helping me at all. I was and still am completely miserable at my job. I needed to find another one, another career path. Not just any other but one which would bring me fulfilment and make me happy. Well, I’ve known call centre work and customer service all of my adult life; what else was there for me to do? It seemed like such a daunting task, to come up with something that I could do instead of my current job. Most other things that I thought of were in some way linked, be they office jobs or other retail or customer service jobs. No, no, no, that’s not what I wanted. I thought I had hit a brick wall, when it suddenly hit me: I had been training staff a few months prior, in a classroom environment, where I had creative control over how each lesson/module would be taught and I was very happy during this time. Of course, the happiness was short lived, as I was only doing it for 6 weeks and I got barely so much as a thank you when I finished. I think the fact that it ended on such a sudden and negative note is what made me forget about it when considering a new career but there it was. There was the answer: I should become a teacher. It was so obvious that I was practically kicking myself when I figured it out.

Since I found the answer, I have been working my new goal of teaching into my daily routine. I very quickly decided that I didn’t want to be a school teacher, which actually makes my goal a lot easier to reach. To be a college lecturer, I would only need the qualification that I would be teaching and I happen to have an HND. Perfect. My dad is a college lecturer so I made some time so that we could sit together and work on my CV. Everything seemed to be falling together pretty nicely. That pretty much brings us up to the present day and it’s actually getting to be quite scary. I’m almost at a point where I can start applying for lecturing jobs and jobs within colleges. It’s okay, though, as it’s an amazing kind of scary. One which is driving me to do the best that I can for myself. I know that I will be able to handle each step along the way. I have faith in myself and it has been a long time since I’ve been able to say that honestly.

I have found my path. If you haven’t already, you should go out and find yours. You will find your answer somewhere, I promise. But to find it, you need to look for it. Very few people in this world stumble into their dream career so don’t wait for that to happen and hope for the best. Get your life in order and find whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy. I haven’t finished my journey to getting my dream career but I’ll tell you this: I’m almost there and I already feel happier than I have been in a long time.

Love and Peace.