How My First Twitter Chat Went: Thoughts Moving Forward

Yesterday, I did my very first Twitter Chat on my RT account, @BeardedRT. I went in blind, as I had only ever taken part in 1 or 2 Twitter Chats myself and I had never hosted anything like this before. I was quite nervous but the format seemed quite simple and I was confident that I would be able to handle it.

I had done a bit of research and realised there are Twitter tools that I could use, which would make the chat a whole lot easier. I started using TweetDeck so that I could schedule my tweets for specific times but also so that I could have all of my feeds on the one, easy to manage screen. This really did make things so easy and I would not have been able to cope if I didn’t elect to use something like this.

Honestly, the hardest part was deciding on a topic for the chat. I wanted it to be something interesting but very relatable so that plenty of people would feel like they could engage. I was struggling to think of something that would fit but after I wrote my last post about anxiety, I realised that this was the perfect topic. It turned out that my decision to talk about anxiety was probably the best I could have made.

While I was thinking of a topic for the chat and working out how I was going to do it, I had to set it up and make sure people knew that it was happening. I’ve never been a huge fan of constant self promotion and I never tweet the same content over and over again. In this case, I created a couple of polls, to determine when I should do the chat and also which hashtag people would use if they took part. These polls were a great success and far more people voted than I ever imagined would for my first ever chat. It’s now been set that my chats will take place on Sundays, between 6pm and 7pm and that we use the tag #BeardedChat. Everything seemed to fall together so seamlessly!

When it came to the actual chat, I decided to use what seemed to be a tried and tested format: 4 questions, asked every 15 minutes, with some RTing and replying in between. I set up all 4 questions well in advance on TweetDeck.m posted a couple of tweets about the chat to remind my followers that it was happening and jusy waited for 6pm to arrive, when my first tweet was due to go live. When the moment came, I was amazed at the instantaneous response that I got. People were engaging from the moment I posted the first question. It was incredible, from the point of view of somebody who was almost entirely new to RT accounts and Twitter Chats. The questions were tweeting automatically every 15 minutes, which gave me the freedom to RT and reply to all of the answers. The hour flew in and I had an absolute blast, engaging with my followers and chatting about our own experiences with anxiety.

The whole process seemed so natural and I found that I took to it like a duck to water. It didn’t feel stressful, like I was worried it would; it actually was fun and I loved it so much. I am so glad that my first chat was such a positive experience and it makes me so excited for moving forward with it. I am already looking forward to next week’s chat and am even thinking about doing it 2 times a week pretty soon. I genuinely am passionate about doing this and it’s the first time in a while that I have felt this way.

If you’re reading this as somebody who took part in the #BeardedChat, thank you so much for joining in! If you are new to it all, why don’t you join in at some point? #BeardedChat is every Sunday, from 6pm to 7pm. You are all more than welcome to come chat and make new friends!

Love and Peace

A Few Thoughts on Anxiety

Although I’ve always had a lot of empathy for people who suffered from anxiety disorders and always tried to understand it, I never knew just how constantly debilitating it could be. I had an image in my head that it was something which reared its head from time to time.

Now that I am struggling with anxiety, I have a whole new level of empathy for people who have previously struggled or are still struggling. Rather than anxiety being something that has will appear on occasion and make me feel terrible for a brief period, it has actually been something which I deal with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The thing which makes an occasional appearance is the feeling of calm but that is very rare. More often than not, if I have a brief period of not feeling anxious, all I feel is indifference because I am working on a menial task and am focused but not invested in it. It really has opened my eyes up to how some of my dear friends are feeling on a daily basis.

One of the things which has made me realise that anxiety is a constant state of being for me has been an annoying and painful side effect: clenching or grinding my teeth. My face is always very sore because the muscles in it, which are normally hardly used, are now being used at almost every moment of every day. The ironic thing about this is that it becomes painful to laugh or smile too much. It’s really rather sad, in a way.

I guess this realisation has made me more determined to find ways of reducing the anxiety that I am feeling in any way that I can, no matter how small it may be. Thinking about it logically, this would tie in with self-care, which I realise I realise I have not been great at practising recently. I think I need to make self-care my main focus right now.

Oh, and as I finish off this post, I’ve realised that my face also hurts because my anxiety makes me bite my lips more often. Isn’t it a strange feeling when you catch yourself absent-mindedly doing something?

Love and Peace

I Am Terrified

My head is spinning. I am over thinking. My heart is racing. I feel very low and I am terrified that I am going to hit rock bottom again.

 

I am rocking back and forth and I have absolutely no idea why. I cant get myself out of this mindset that I am inadequate and nobody likes me. I feel like I am an absolute failure in my life and I won’t get better.

 

I am hungry but my brain is refusing to give me the motivation to eat. I haven’t drank any water today or taken my meds. All I have done is smoke cigarettes. I want to get up, wash, eat and sort my life out but my brain is fighting me. It’s fighting hard and I don’t know if I have enough willpower to keep fighting back.

 

This is going to defeat me.

Today is a Good Day

I woke up today, earlier than I had planned, feeling very different to how I normally feel.

 

Usually, I wake up feeling very anxious and feeling like I am a worthless piece of crap. Today, however, I woke up feeling very calm. I wasn’t worrying about anything and I saw something that I hadn’t seen in a while: I saw the potential to make today whatever I wanted to make it. I am not a piece of crap and the things that I do matter. They matter greatly, to me and to the people who care about me. Today, I can see this very clearly and I think it is time to start taking responsibility again.

 

As I got out my laptop and set out to write a blog post, I had no idea what I wanted to write. Rather than feeling anxious and frustrated about this, I decided just to breathe and write whatever came to mind. I decided to take it back to basics and look at this platform as that which it was originally intended: something I could use to get my thoughts down on paper and clear my head. I shouldn’t worry about writing things which will be meaningful or will attract viewers. I am doing this for myself, first and foremost and if it also helps a few people along the way then that is a bonus.

 

Today will be a good day. I will make today a good day. I will practice some self-care and make sure anything that needs done around the house is done. A few weeks ago, I started doing this. I started taking responsibility for my life; however, my brain didn’t want me to do that and it sabotaged all of my attempts to get things back on track. Well, brain, I hope you haven’t forgotten about that letter I wrote to you. I have taken steps to help you get better so I hope you will be doing the same once the meds kick in. We’ve got this and I won’t stop fighting.

 

Today is a good day. I am feeling happy. I am feeling motivated. I am feeling more myself again than I have in a long time. Let’s not waste this opportunity to move forward. Let’s do this.

 

Love and Peace

A Pill a Day: Has it Kept the Demons Away?

At this point, I am 2 weeks into my 6 week course of antidepressants. Has it helped so far? Let’s take a look and find out.

 

When I started taking the pills, I was very nervous, as you can read in A Pill a Day Keeps the Demons Away. Although I knew that the medication was specifically designed to combat depression and anxiety, I was worried that it might take something away from me; that it might turn me into somebody who I don’t want to be. Having taken the medication for 2 weeks, I am quite pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t done that which I feared.

 

Let’s start with the side effects that I have experienced so far, as although there have only been 2, they have been pretty unexpected. The first side effect that I experienced, around a week into the course, was tiredness. I would never say that I am somebody who regularly has trouble sleeping; however, I have noticed a considerable difference in how much my body needs sleep, specifically at night-time. I have been starting work at 7:30am and finishing at 3:30pm. When I started this shift, I was pretty excited, as I thought I would have plenty of time in the evenings to do things that I enjoy. Well, with these new pills, this turned out not to be the case. I found that I was very tired very early in the evening. The first day on my shifts and just a few days into taking the medication, I fell asleep at 7:00pm. This was very alien to me, as I have always been somebody who stays up until I need to go to sleep. From that day onwards, I have been so sleepy every single night.

 

The second side effect that I experienced was excessive sweating. I have always been a larger guy but I’ve never had an issue with sweating. Sure, during the really hot weather that we’ve had, I was pretty clammy a lot of the time; however, even as it got colder, I realised that I still felt very warm and I was constantly sweating like I’d just ran a long distance race. This has been very unpleasant and it is not something that I hope continues. I am sure that both of these side effects will even out and I will be back to my normal self soon, although I will miss being able to sleep on cue.

 

Now that we have the side effects out of the way, let’s have a look at how I’m feeling. I am feeling much less anxious. I am over thinking less. These two things on their own are hugely positive for me, as you will probably know from reading Over Thinking. I feel like I can get on with my day and do the things I want to do, without being held back by constantly feeling anxious for no damn reason or by over thinking every little decision or situation. It has also helped my relationship with that one person with whom I’ve become very close. Things have been gradually getting better over the last two weeks and I am so happy about this. As well as the lack of anxiety, I feel like I am more prone to happiness. This has been such a welcome return to form, as I used to be a very positive person and would always look on the bright side of any situation. It hasn’t been a full return but it has been a massive step in terms of where I was two weeks ago. I have also found that I am more likely to carry out my self-care routines more often. By more often, I mean I have been doing it every single day since starting the medication. Now, this may be because I made a promise to myself that I would incorporate self care along with the medication, knowing that the pill on its own would not be a fix. It also could just be that the medication has triggered something in my brain that gives me the drive to do the things I need and want to do.

 

I am only two weeks into this course of medication and my GP advised that it can take three to four weeks to settle in and start to work so I have by no means experienced the full benefit of it. At the same time, I could experience something completely different and far more negative over the next 2 weeks. I really don’t know how things are going to pan out… but I am excited to see and I am feeling pretty positive right now.

 

Love and Peace.

A Pill a Day Keeps the Demons Away

Well, today I did it. I went to the doctor and spoke about my anxiety and depression.

Well, today I did it. I went to the doctor and spoke about my anxiety and depression.

 

This really wasn’t as scary as I had always expected. In fact, it was rather underwhelming. I had thought that my GP might probe me with lots of questions to make sure I was actually depressed, rather than just sad or even faking it for attention or drugs. Nope. She didn’t question very much and any questions she did ask I was able to answer very honestly. Within 10 minutes she had worked out what I had already done for my own mental health and figured that it was time for some extra help; however, although she was able to come to this conclusion very quickly, I couldn’t but feel the entire time that she was treating me as just another person with depression, rather than an individual. She seemed very bored through the entire appointment and certainly didn’t seem like she cared. Oh well.

 

Now, if you have read One Small Step for a Beard… then you will know my feelings on taking medication and especially antidepressants. I have no problem with other people taking them and I understand that, if it helps them, it is the best thing for them. Of course, when it comes to my own head and my own body, my opinion for some reason differs. I am scared of antidepressants. Terrified…. and by now you’ve probably guessed that this is exactly what my doctor prescribed today. Well, fuck.

 

Yes, I am scared of these tablets. I don’t know how they are going to make me feel. I know that they will more than likely help my depression and anxiety… but will I feel better? Will I feel like myself or a completely different person? Will I keep the things in my head that I actually enjoy about myself or will I lose those too? These are just some of the questions swirling around in my head. I guess there is literally only one way to find out: start taking the damn medication and getting better. Pushing through the fear and actually doing something that will benefit me, rather than sabotaging it like I normally do.

 

Hell, maybe they’ll help my brain remember me… then I can find myself again. Wouldn’t that be the best outcome that I could hope for? Thinking about that actually put a smile on my face as I write this. Here’s to getting better, regardless of how long the journey may be.

 

Love and Peace.

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.