Letter to My Brain: Follow-Up

You may have read the previous and first letter that I wrote to my brain. If you haven’t, I would recommend heading over to Letter to My Brain on my blog.

 

This is a follow-up letter, where I talk to my brain about how I am feeling at this moment in time and check in to see if we are any closer to the working partnership, for which I said we should strive.

 

Let’s dive in and see if there have been any changes:

 

“Dear Brain,

 

Hi again. I hope you haven’t forgotten my last letter. I know you can’t write back, being a brain and all but I am quite sure you got the message. I do hope that my feelings on this are correct.

 

Since I last wrote, I have noticed a big difference in the way you have been treating me. In fact, I noticed many differences along the way; not all of these differences were positive but it is the outcome that matters most of all in this situation.

 

The first big change that I noticed came when I had not long started taking my antidepressants. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and shocked me to my very core. It was an anxiety attack like I had never felt before. My initial reaction, once I had overcome the anxiety, was “why are you doing this to me? Why, when I am trying to help you by taking these meds?” I felt helpless, as I thought the meds were not working at all. I began resenting you even more than I had done when I initially wrote to you; however, once I calmed down and realised that the tablets can cause one’s anxiety to get worse before it gets better, I felt quite sheepish. Of course it was the tablets and not you. My GP even told me to expect things to get worse initially. I was just blind to it, like a fool.

 

The next change that I felt, once the rough period was nearing its end, was that you seemed a lot less chaotic. You weren’t making me over think as much as you used to. You weren’t making me panic or stress as much as you tended to do before. Although I was still anxious and I still did think about a lot over time, it was a welcome relief from the constant mess that was my head when you were in control and seemed to be out to get me. It is quite hard to describe, other than to say that I felt calmer and more focused.

 

Probably the best difference to me was that I actually felt happier more often. Things weren’t as dark or cloudy. It was such a relief that you had found it in you to lift the veil for me and to do it as much as you did. I appreciated it to no end. Don’t think that it went unnoticed, as I noticed it every time and I made sure to make the most of it. As I was happier, I had it in me to love the way that I had before. I was able to free up some room in my head in order to help those I love. It was uplifting and it has brought me even closer to people in my life. I knew you still had that loving and caring side somewhere inside you. You were just hiding it from me, as you didn’t want to be too vulnerable.

 

Of course, as a result of all of these things, I am more laid back and closer to my chilled out self than I have been in a long time. Rather than feel guilty for sitting in my dressing gown on my days off, I feel comfortable. All I need is a White Russian and a nice big rug to lay on; it would really tie the room together. I’m taking it easy and you know am. The Dude abides, after all.

 

Brain, we still have a long way to go before we find the man I described in my first letter but the progress we have made together so far only gives me more hope that we will find him. You have given me the space I needed to start looking for him and I am happy to say that traces of him have popped up in so many places. You are starting to remember and this makes me very happy. To me, the only way from here is up…. and I couldn’t have gotten this far without your help.

 

Let’s continue the fight, struggle on and keep searching together. One day, we will be ready to try to take over the world, Brain.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Duncan”

 

I have to say, writing this letter felt very different to writing the first one. I hope you enjoyed it and I can guarantee you that there will be another one in future.

 

Love and Peace

Song of the Day: 25/08/2018

I will try to do one of these every day but I may miss a few due to life’s happenings.

 

I’m feeling very low today, as well as ill. This song popped into my head and I just needed to listen to it. It’s quite a dark song and I really relate to it today. My head is going around in circles and I feel like 2 different people.

 

This is “Jekyll and Hyde” by “Five Finger Death Punch”.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Love and Peace

My Holiday So Far: This is the Life

I am sitting with a coffee that was made for me by my mum when I got out of bed. She also offered to make me a bacon roll for breakfast, which is currently on its way. My dad is sitting with the newspaper and my wee niece is walking around, chatting away to everybody, asking to go out and play.

I am sitting with a coffee that was made for me by my mum when I got out of bed. She also offered to make me a bacon roll for breakfast, which is currently on its way. My dad is sitting with the newspaper and my wee niece is walking around, chatting away to everybody, asking to go out and play. My sister-in-law has just told her they are going out to the park. All in all, I am very happy.

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This holiday has been just what the doctor ordered. A nice, relaxing few days away with my family. I haven’t done very much and that is definitely a good thing. The biggest thing I did was play a game of poker on the Friday night, which was a long and drunken night but it was the most fun I’ve had in a while (despite being put out first). The house I am staying in is huge and has everything that we could need, including 4 bathrooms. There is a massive kitchen/dining room, with a huge 8-seater dining table. There is a big conservatory with a corner couch and recliner chair. The conservatory looks out onto a garden that is almost as big as the house, which has plenty of bushes, flowers, some pebble walkways and even a pond.

I was actually due to come home today, as I had booked a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning; however, my mum could see how much this holiday was helping me mentally and emotionally and she has convinced me to call the doctor in the morning to ask if we could continue with the appointment over the telephone. I hadn’t even thought of this being an option so I was really happy for my mum to have suggested it. It’s exactly what I’m going to do and I am going to make the most of my time off.

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To give you a little bit of context as to why this holiday has been so incredibly good for me and my mental health, St Andrews is a very special place to me. I have been coming here every year for 20 years. I know the place like the back of my hand and consider it to be a second home. It is a very relaxing and peaceful place, where I feel 100% safe walking around, no matter the time of day. It has several beaches, where you can take in the sea air. There are some beautiful, scenic walks that are just a joy to take. The pubs here are so nice, with some of the friendliest staff around. It is a place that my entire family loves, which means we can all spend time together here and each one of us would enjoy ourselves and be happy.

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Where is your happy place? Is there a regular holiday that you take which makes you feel the happiest? Maybe you just have a place you can visit any time you like which makes you content? I would love it if you would share them with me. Now, I’m off to continue enjoying my holiday while I can.

 

Love and Peace

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