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.

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.

Order from Chaos

I hope to use this blog not only as a journal or a catalogue of my own experiences but also as a kind of reference for anybody else out there who may be going through similar experiences. Mental health is incredibly important, especially today, when more and more people are being diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. If you can relate to anything in this or future posts, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

When I recently went through another low point in my life (mentally), I got through it with help from my good friends. They lifted me up like nothing else could and I am forever grateful. I realised, however, that I would need to change something in my life so that I could cope with my depression and anxiety a lot better on my own. That’s when I started taking control and bringing order and meaning to my life.

One day, when I hit the lowest point of my depression, I reached out to my friends. They spoke to me and lifted me up, as I explained at the beginning of this entry. Now, I do not believe that there is much else in this world which could be an effective substitute for talking to somebody when it comes to depression; however, what I did next was so simple and yet so effective. It made me feel a million times better; so much so that I’ve kept it going, in one form or another: I brought structure to my life, where there had previously been none. Before, I would just go to work, come home, eat (if I could be bothered) and veg out whilst watching YouTube, before going to sleep and then getting up and doing it all again. I didn’t realise how much worse this way of living was actually making me feel. This chaos. That is until I organised my life and introduced order.

It was my turn, that weekend, to clean the flat. Now, any time I had done this before, I had just arbitrarily started cleaning and stopped whenever I thought I was done. This time, though, it was very different. I got some post it notes and wrote each job on a single post it:

  1. DISHES
  2. KITCHEN
  3. HOOVERING
  4. MOPPING
  5. BATHROOM

I stuck them all on the door frame and stuck some ska music on my Spotify (it was actually someone very special to me who had put me in the mood for ska and I feel that this only added to my positive mood even more). I got to work and each time I finished a job I took the Sharpie and scored it out on the post it. Once I had finished all of the jobs on my list and scored them out, I grabbed each post it, crumpled them all up into a big ball and threw them in the bin. I mean, I could have done it individually, as each task was completed; however, saving it all to the end was far more satisfying and it helped me feel like I had accomplished something greater. I sat down and realised: this was the most content and fulfilled I had felt in a very long time. I was awestruck with how much better I felt and I was so proud of myself. From that moment on, I made a promise to myself that I would do this as often as I could. Organise my life, that is, not clean the flat. I really am not a neat freak…. and so far, I have kept that promise. I have organised my life into things that need to be done by writing myself lists. I have a static list of things that I must do, such as making my bed in the morning and getting out my front door. Then I have a list of extras, which are things that are not as important but it would be nice if I could get them done. The way I see it, if all I can manage on any given day is the “must” list, that’s fine. I’ve taken care of myself and that’s what matters. If I manage a few more things or even just one other thing from the “extras” list, I count that as an achievement and I give myself a pat on the back. This way, I’m organising and prioritising my life but at the same time limiting the risk of over stressing myself and allowing myself to fall into another low point.

I am still fighting my depression and anxiety on a daily basis, such is the nature of chaos; however, now that I have introduced order to my life, I feel that I am far better equipped to cope with it than I ever have been before.

“Life is suffering, but I got this.”

Love and peace.