Friday, December 25, 2015

Even the best things don't work.

So I thought coming to Wales,  my place of sanctity,  my true love,  would really do me some good. Knowing how many happy memories I have here,  it was a sure thing that I would feel relief and some relaxation.

But no! Not the case. Arriving here was fine,  but no drive to go to my favourite places,  just headed for the cemetery to pay my respects and lay flowers.

Then off to see Chris and Dyfrig,  the friendly old couple who have given me so much comfort over the years. Plan just to drop a card in,  say hi,  and go. Obviously I had to exchange a few words,  but a minute in and I was shaking,  breathing hard and wanted out. Thankfully I had managed to say I wasn't staying by that time. Dyfrig saw I wasn't comfortable and helped me with my exit.

Wow that felt crappy,  but I promised to return as soon as my head is better.

Now that was a real anticlimax.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mood bombs

It's amazing just how fast a mood can bomb when you are of fragile mind and easily influenced. From a dull but positive morning and afternoon,  to a relaxing evening,  all seemed on track for an OK day.

Hoping to end the day on a positive note,  I went to bed earlyish to avoid being over tired. However on my way to bed events started to unravel,  and by the time I made it to bed,  within 5 minutes the day was destined to end on a pretty shitty low.

Don't ask why,  thats just too complicated to explain right now,  and more to the point I don't get it myself. But either way it sucks right now.

Fingers crossed I wake tomorrow in a better mood. I have an increased dose of medication to look forward to tomorrow,  so that's a bonus eh.

Wish I could explain how it feels to have the bottom drop out of your mood in a flash. And once it's gone,  you are left struggling to climb back out of the hole you fall into. For anyone who does actually understand the feeling,  you have my sympathies.

Right,  I better lay back down and stare at the ceiling for a bit,  then be restless for another hour or so.

Night.

Another day, another blog.

After another rather stressy day yesterday I turned in early for the night. Not that I got to sleep straight away, and neither did I sleep very well. It would seem the initial improvement is now a thing of the past. Relaxing thoughts, and well rehearsed techniques to get to sleep no longer work, and the spiral of association has come back. Taking a simple innocent thought, within a minute it spirals into something I dread or a subject that winds me up. Change the thought, and the process starts again. Thinking of a video game for example, within three twists of association, can become a past memory of something I have done, which in turn makes me sad or anxious. It's incredible, as my concious mind could never make those twisted associations. It is almost like my brain WANTS me to think about these other things, and manages to contort the subject accordingly.

Right now though I have no rational way of addressing the matters, and no means of outlet to vent them to, so they will just have to wait for now.

Speaking of waiting, that is the theme of today, waiting for a contractor (who has now arrived), and waiting for a call from the GP. Thankfully, one thing I am not waiting for any longer is the report from my company doctor. After seeing him last week all seemed to go well, but you know how it is. Like job interviews, it went well but the letter isn't what you expected. However on this occasion I am happy to say that the report is favourable, and supportive, which is a great relief to me for sure. Painting a similar picture to that which my GP has already done, recommending the increase in medication as per the consultation, and outlining a realistic timescale for improvement and return to work.
Now I just need to speak to the GP when she calls, to discuss the report and see if she goes with the increase in meds dose.

Also having now received the next appointment with the therapy people from the NHS, I can now add that to her information, so she can make decisions accordingly. With the first face to face appointment with the therapy people not being til January, and only being an assessment once again, treatment itself is yet to get a confirmed start date. That obviously puts the brakes on things a little bit, but the company GP has allowed for this in his recommendations.

So there are lots of positives there for sure.
In other parts of life there is little improvement in my day to day goings on. Still borderline hurting myself to try and stay clear headed and sane, and of course to end the day exhausted enough to sleep. Which doesn't seem to be working very well anymore, but the getting out alone is helping keep my head clear.
Support from friends, and company being offered is a great relief, now all I need to do is make some of that actually happen.

On Xmas day I will be making my usual trip to Wales to have a clean up of the family grave, lay some flowers, and have some down time breathing fresh coastal air. Come rain or shine, I look forwards to returning to a place which holds only the most innocent of memories for me, and offers no complications, painful reminders, or associations for my mind to play with. Memories of youth are the clearest and purest I have. So I think it is that which keeps me going back again and again. As well of course as wishing to maintain the headstone, and pay my respects.
Fingers crossed I can have a wide awake day, and stay focused enough to do the round trip in the day. I am sure I can, but as ever it is a solo trip, so keeping my mind distracted might be a bit of a test for me.

So that is my download for the morning. Here's to a positive outcome to the call from the GP, and a chance to get outside and recharge my solar batteries in my head.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Time, it's a strange old thing.

Time, the ticking clock of life, never stopping til our final breath. Constant in rhythm, but not in its direction.
I have had a lot of time recently to look back at my life, and make comparisons of then and now on many fronts. The deeper I have dug, the more I have realised about myself, and if I am honest, the more I have grown confused about who I am now. The thought process isn't a controlled one, nor a voluntary one. More something that imposes itself upon me at the most inopportune moments possible. Like when trying to relax or get some sleep.

Anger. That is the first thing I realise that has changed about me. People use the term "he has mellowed with age", and while it seems a bit cheesy, I have to say it is the case with me. I can look back and remember times when anger got the better of me, for the right and wrong reasons. Kicking a moving car as it jumped a red light almost hitting my new born daughters buggy, then chasing the driver down, who turned out to be huge, but not backing down. Punching through a panel in a door after a very emotional conversation with my daughters mum, telling me I couldn't see my daughter. Which resulted in slicing through my hand, gushing with blood, and having to call my heavily pregnant sister at work to ask her to come and help stop the bleeding.
The last true episode of frustration and anger I recall is when I had my Golf, back in about 2006, getting frustrated with the rear wiper I was trying to fix, knocking a few tools out of the toolbox, and losing it, and emptying the contents out, causing my then girlfriend to get very upset.

There have been many examples before that, but time has indeed mellowed me, or something has. While I still shout abuse when frustrated, and occasionally get mad at others on the road, the bulk of the anger is all in the past. Or should I say, the bulk of all irrational behaviour is history.

Then there is sadness to the point of crying. One of the emotions I really wish I hadn't lost, but went a long long time ago. The pressure valve that is crying, is a helpful one in life. When it all gets too much, it's nice (from what I recall) to just let it all go, and feel a bit better without all that emotion clogging you up inside. My last recollection of crying was around 2002, and if I recall correctly Simon Watts was the poor sod who had to listen to me blubbering on the phone for ages. But remembering back to then, I actually can, I remember by the end of the conversation feeling relieved. If you compare the need to crying to the need to pee, once it starts relief begins, and by the end of it, all is much better. Strange comparison, forgive me.

There have been lots of times in the past 13 years where crying probably would have really helped me out, but alas it doesn't happen. I get choked up, I get teary eyed, but that's as far as it goes. The death of loved ones, sad news shared with others, hell even emotional endings to films. Nothing sets the tear ducts in full motion these days, and quite frankly it sucks. I know people say some people cry too much, and I'm sure it's a chore to cry at everything, but bottling it up for years and years... That really isn't nice. If I ever do cry again, I might actually need to be put on a drip to keep me hydrated.

Other needs and emotions seem to have changed too. Like I would kill for a no strings cuddle up on the sofa with a take away and a movie, over a crazy lust filled chase for gratuitous sex. (NO, I am not saying I don't like sex anymore lol). I guess as you experience things in life, you learn what matters and what doesn't. The past decade has taught me some very valuable lessons in that department, including what physical acts are important to me over others. I know this is all a bit strange to share, but it's never stopped me in the past, so why get shy now eh.
I read an article this morning actually saying that five good long hugs a day are good for you, and it stimulates certain centres in the brain. The article is here... http://time.com/4042834/neuroscience-happy-rituals/

The content I refer to here is this part.

So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.
Via The Upward Spiral:
A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.
Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

So any offers from any of my cute female friends to help me out with this one is appreciated. Til then, it's just me an my Primark pillow :'(
But seriously, of the few I have had over recent times, it is somewhat true. A hug can feel so warm and reassuring. Hence sofa snuffle over bedroom fumble.

Back when mum was about, I was living as the son role. Even though I was grown up, mentally I still just had fun and didn't care much for the consequences. In later years, looking after her, and having to take responsibility, and get a grip on actual adult living came as quite a shock. No more safety net, and worse still, I had lost my outlet of impartiality. Now and forever more when confiding information, or just blowing off steam, choosing the right person was imperative. Naturally I think at this point I stopped being totally open. And the bottling up of thoughts and emotions begun.
I know I am open on here, but trust me there are so many more things I would not dare share openly, or in fact with another person. Trust for me is hard to find.

And there we have the next thing that time has changed. Trust.
Once upon a time, although I would not open my heart to people, I trusted a few to carry some of my darker secrets. In recent years, there is no other way to say it than I have been betrayed. Hung out to dry and offered for sacrifice, in one case almost to the point of losing my job. Yet the same people who did these things happily speak to me when the mood suits as if there is nothing wrong. Even enquiring about personal matters, like I am going to share anything like that with the backstabbing arseholes. Not just the work issue, but other times when a closely guarded secret has suddenly been discussed with others, putting me in an awkward position.
I like to think I am a pretty open book, and a straight shooter. Want to know how I feel about something? Simple, ask me. You might not like what you hear if the question is about yourself, but I will do my best to convey my feelings on the matter.
So over the years I have learned not to trust people. Sadly that leaves a select few to be burdened with all my inner most thoughts. Sorry about that.

Time changes people, it's true. But more to the point our experiences in life, over time change us, and make us the people we are today. In my case I am not sure that is such a good thing. I would not go as far as to say I am broken, but I certainly feel like some experiences in life have had a negative impact on me.
After my daughter I lost interest in having any more kids, even if the relationship had presented the opportunity, I would shy away for sure. Having been through something so traumatic as to lose contact for so long, 17 years almost now, the thought of taking that chance again scared the shit out of me for years.
That's just one example of how my past has changed me. Before that happened I couldn't wait to be a dad. Sad really.

I will wrap up by saying how I realise how much recent times have again changed me, and when it comes to self confidence, approaching situations where rejection is possible, or just laying myself bare for judgement in any walk of life, I am weak!

Oh well. Time to rebuild I guess eh.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I don't get it!

How can I go from feeling so positive, to quite frankly, so shit in such a short space of time. I mean, I do get it, it's what the bastard brain is capable of doing, but even though I understand it, it is SO frustrating knowing you can't do a thing about it.

Today I woke feeling sore from lots of walking and activity over the past few weeks. As I have said before, walking and music are my two escapes from the feeling of total madness that I fall into if I don't keep my mind occupied with simple things. Planning to take it easier than recently, I first took a walk to the GP's to get myself a telephone consult with my doctor. Having spoken to the company doctor the other day, and taking his suggestions on board, I thought I would approach my doc with the recommendation of the increase in meds to get things stable. No point taking up a face to face, so a quick call should do the trick. That will be on Wednesday now.

After walking back home again, a few miles round trip in all, I took the dogs out. Now already walking more than I planned but my mind was starting to run away with me, so I did it to maintain control. Getting home I found I had a letter from the Psychological Therapy dept, with an appointment, for January. So in all so far it will have been 6-8 weeks to get to see someone to start the process. Or so you would think. But apparently the hour I spent on the phone a couple of weeks ago, answering questions, explaining myself, and doing the grading questionnaire wasn't enough. So my appointment in a couple of weeks time will in fact be.... An assessment... AGAIN ! So still no sign of actual help yet.

To say that makes me feel helpless is an understatement to say the least. I know the service is under a lot of pressure. But having approached my GP in early Nov, getting an appointment for January to assess me kinda sucks. Given that by assessment they acknowledge they are so far unaware of the extent of the situation.

With that slight hint of negativity I nose dived this afternoon, and by 1pm I was so tired I had to sleep. Brain just not wanting to keep thinking at the time, so back to bed I went. Waking a couple of hours later, feeling crap about myself, and in a worse state than when I went to bed in the first place. On waking my first thought was to go back to sleep. Since then I have tried to watch some TV, tried to do some bit around the house and failed on most counts. Resorting in the end to going for another walk, from which I have just returned. With a angry calf muscles, and very sore feet. I know I am not doing my body any favours doing this, but it's the lesser of two evils, so the body loses every time.

Speaking of the body, my latest thing is self loathing. Angry at myself for falling out of good shape, hating what I have become, and struggling with if I can even do anything about it. I have the equipment, I have the knowhow, but to actually get into the routine of it again seems impossible right now. I want to look good for me, I want to feel good about myself, and lets be honest, I want to be attractive to potential girlfriends. I would love to get into the best shape of my life next year. There is no real reason I can't, I just need the fire in my belly, and the encouragement of  some people around me to spur me on. But right now, all I can do is hate what I have become.

What I have become is over weight, under confident, unmotivated, and inward. Constantly questioning myself, looking back on past events in life, both recent and a long time ago, and wondering if I was a different person back then. Was that me, or is this really me? What changed, and what did I do over and over to get me into the place I am today. I don't think I am a bad person, but I know I have done some mean things over the years, not given people the attention or respect they deserved, and maybe that is coming back to bite me in the arse now? My retraction from interaction speaks volumes about how I feel about myself right now. Choosing only to communicate with a very limited group of people that I feel "safe" to speak with. No complications or awkwardness, no unexpected changes of subject. Just calm conversation.

And that's another thing. How two-faced do I feel at times. I can see someone I am comfortable around, and be happy, laugh and smile. Just opening up to them feels natural and good for me. With the chosen few I feel I am being the real me, the proper 100% actual me, the person I remember I am in times of clarity. Yet with others, and I apologise for this to you all, I am awkward, cold, and silent. Choosing not to even answer messages in case a question turns into a conversation. Avoiding silly things like a call to the Reebok engineer to get my cross trainer serviced, as I don't want to talk to strangers. Stupid as that sounds, I really can't bring myself to do that, or other calls right now. Unfortunate, as having a fully working cross trainer would be quite handy right now. Maybe I will try and call tomorrow ( like I have said for 2 weeks now).

I really didn't realise I was going to write so much right now. I know there is a lot in my head, that I have been unable to blog recently because of the lack of enthusiasm to sit at the desk and type, a lot of things building up and making matters worse for me. It is a really horrible feeling to know there are things I can do to make life easier, but not have the get up and go to do them. Almost trapped in my own head, by my malfunctioning brain. So much energy of varying sorts, all building up waiting to explode out of my mind.

With Xmas fast approaching, and the seasonal road trip to Wales, I am hoping I can get some fresh air, and relax my mind a little once the duties are taken care of. I feel bad though because in my head right now I don't want to see Chris and Dyfrig who I make a point of seeing every year. As much as I love our conversations, and how welcome I am made to feel, right now I can't bare the thought of sitting in the house and looking back over what has been quite a challenging year. I am sure I will do something to make amends for the lack of visit in person, but still feels wrong at the moment.

Right, I am going to leave it there as my concentration is waning a little and I may start to ramble more than I already am.

Just a quick thank you to those who continue to offer support and friendship, regardless of if I have accepted it or passed on it, I appreciate it all. My choices of who I am turning to right now in no way reflects how I feel about people in general, so please don't take what might appear as ignorance or shunning as a negative, it isn't something I feel I have control over right now.

On another note, and quite a macabre one, while I am struggling right now, and really fighting to stay active and in communication with the outside world, I can say thing with confidence, as I have said in person to a few people. I have no ill intent towards myself, no wish to no longer be around, or to harm myself. Strange as it sounds I know depression and anxiety affects people differently, and because of that it is a natural concern for some to have when they know a person they know is struggling a bit.
I promise that should that feeling ever change, phones would start ringing, doorbells would be rung, and I would reach out as soon as the first thought ever entered my mind.  So please don't worry about that, especially if I am not talking to you much right now.

OK, done, thanks and well done if you read this far.  Til next time.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Breaking point.

The past month or so I have found peace or at least relaxation in walking. Silly distances a day,  with and without the dogs.  Blisters,  sore feet,  back pain etc,  but it's all been worth it to silence my mind. Being exhausted at the end of the day is a good thing as I sleep better.

Unfortunately with my track record it was never going to last,  and now I find myself trying to find a new balance between resting and walking. The soreness has caught up with me,  and the mornings are now filled with dread at the thought of walking. Sadly that also means I am losing the enthusiasm to get up now.

After seeing the company doctor the other day and discussing medication doses,  it all seems to go hand in hand. The lack of interest in the mornings the dip in moods again,  and the struggle to keep walking.

Somehow I need to rearrange things so I can keep working on having a clearer mind with less anxiety,  and being able to exercise the dogs, and myself,  without resorting to self inflicted pain.

Should be fun,  new week,  new challenge. Lets see how that goes.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Thank God that's over with.

So since being off sock with anxiety and depression,  and realising it was becoming a long term thing,  I kinda knew I would end up seeing the company doctor at some point. I have had a good relationship with him over the years with tennis elbow,  gout,  depression etc,  so know he is a good man with no ill intent.

None the less,  the thought of being judged by another in this state, and having to dig deep to explain myself all over again is a rather overwhelming experience to say the least.

So today was the day,  and sitting in the waiting room alone was a huge stress. Thankfully the train journey to London Bridge was nice and quiet,  and with headphones in I was in my own little world. When the time came to be called in,  the ever softly spoken Dr Mason came out and called me in. Formalities over with,  the conversation started. I gave him all the supporting paperwork etc,  and  he listened carefully as I tried to explain myself.

After a quick chat I filled out another anxiety / depression questionnaire and he totted up the score. Discussion turned to my meds and dose,  he suggested speaking to the GP again and getting an increase as he feels what I am on is a bit of a "girls dose" he said with a smile on his face.

Next he asked about work, then moved on to how he wanted to progress with me. Suggesting he would like to speak to me again once I have had some counselling,  and see how I am with that and the increase in dose of Citalopram.

Finishing up he asked how I was feeling,  I expressed how anxious I have been about the appointment since getting the letter,  and how it had made me feel. He reassured me there was nothing bad going to happen,  and that he wished me a good recovery,  and looked forward to speaking to me again and hearing some improvement.

Leaving the building my heart was pounding like crazy,  and feeling the fresh air of freedom outside was a relief. So glad it's over with now. Really has had me on edge for a few days now.

So I shall make a new GP appointment once I receive his report as suggested by him,  and see if the dose needs to be increased and if we are making progress yet. And also of course point out to them how long I have to wait for counselling,  as it doesn't look  like I will be working until that is underway.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Up, down, up down, up, up, down!

The past few days have been strange for me, I know I say that a lot recently, but these have been noticeably stranger to previous.
Today for example, focusing on anything is an effort, tiredness is a big part of the day. Getting up this morning wasn't an easy decision, turning the alarm off that has worked for the past few days. The getting up of course could be due to a really horrible nights sleep last night, waking and having to get up and unwind a couple of times. The wind banging things about again put my mind into overdrive.

Postponing the dog walks for a couple of hours, as after 7am the school run and work commute is underway, and the pavements busy, no place for me right now with the dogs. So I went after 9. Slow relaxed pace for a short while, but as bad weather and drizzle moved in, and the dogs were walking too slowly for my liking, so I soon became short tempered and anxious.

Yesterday I went to see the doctor, which was something that had played on my mind a lot the day prior to the trip. Again trying to work out how to explain where my mind is right now, and what the outcome of the consult would be. Would I need more or different meds, more time off, a different approach. But all went well all things considered, she was again very helpful and understanding about all matters.

Sadly the same can't really be said at this stage about the Psychological Therapy people. After getting a text and a letter, both of which I replied to, I got another letter saying they couldn't contact me. I called them up, concerned and frustrated, only to find out they were responsible for a couple of calls from a private number, which had left no message. Not very helpful.

I finally got a call back and a telephone appointment / consultation at 2pm yesterday. Having been through the initial screening call before I knew what to expect, or thought I did.  All started normally, but after I started to open up a bit more, the guy started making weird associations of my issues, and suggesting causes and connections I just can't see. I know he is the pro, but I still have some wits about me, just about.

Towards the end of the call I was asked what I would like the therapy dept to do..... Well, I am not right, and have explained my problems. I would like you to take that all on board and decide professionally how best to approach the process of recovery from this. Being told you sound perfectly articulate, and seem to be communicating well with a stranger is all well and good, but compared to how I normally feel and think, something isn't right.
That's a bit like telling a sprinter they are running fine, because they can beat you in a race, when they are 2 seconds off their PB.

I was then told there are a number of options and therapies available, and that he wants some time to consider them, so will contact me tomorrow (today) or on Monday.

The funniest part was the closing lines. Being told the call will come in the next 1 to 4 days, and "not to worry" because the call will come at some point. So not to stress or get worked up or feel forgotten about, its ok.
Right I suffering from anxiety, I have explained my triggers for the past hour, and you finish by telling me in the vaguest way possible that you will "be in touch". Well that puts my mind at rest, I shall relax for the whole weekend with the vague reassurances of a complete stranger. Thanks!

Other than that, there have been highs and lows in the mix this week. Finally discharged from physio for my achillies, we both believe that I am on the right road to recovery, and now know now to manage the issue, which has made me feel better about all the walking I have been doing. Which in turn now has my feet sore as hell. But in a good way if there is such a thing.

I also found out I have broken 2 back teeth in one of the latest changes to my condition. Jaw clenching from anxiety. Which I believe is also the cause of my headaches too, clenched jaw, stiff neck muscles, and all knocks on from there.
The doc feels that me finding music and walking as good escapes from the feelings I have is a positive step, and has subsequently further signed me off for another period to allow me more time and space (opportunity) to administer self help without the reliance on more medication. The only down side to that is, on days like today I have no motivation or intention on going out much, so its going to be a touch one. Cue the cross trainer.

So that is me up to date really, other than to say I started a mood diary today. To note down how I slept, my AM and PM feelings , and general notes on the day. Like the blog, it is good to have something to refer back to to try and understand myself and thoughts a little better.

Thanks for reading, and as ever, thanks to the special few out there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

You're meant to be helping!!

OK I love the NHS, and think that all areas I have encountered do a fantastic job, but there is a glitch.. And it is one that is reported about all the time, but I have always assumed was just bad press. Maybe I am just unlucky and they are usually great, I don't know. Time will tell I guess.

A few weeks ago my GP referred me for what is nicely named "Psychological Therapy". She filled out her referral, I filled out a questionnaire which included personal info and contact preferences, such as can a message be left.

A week or so later I got a text asking me to call and leave a message to confirm I wanted to go ahead with the service, I replied immediately. On Monday I got a letter asking me to contact them t confirm I wanted to go ahead, so I emailed straight back. Today I have received a letter saying they haven't been able to contact me, and if I don't within 10 days I will be referred back to my GP.

Over the past few days I have received a few calls from withheld or private numbers, no messages left. With the first being a cold call about upgrading my phone, I have ignored the rest. The last thing I need right now is cold calls etc. So it is possible that one or more of these calls has been from the PT department about the counselling. If that IS the case, why the hell don't they at least leave a message. I'm off work as my brain is melting, I can't be the only person that screens calls. Why ask if they can leave messages, if they won't bother anyway, then will just send you kick to the kerb letters.

When your brain is mush like mine at the moment, you really don't need this kind of stupidity.

Rant over!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A little while later.

Well it's been a couple of weeks since starting meds for the depression and anxiety,  and some things have changed.
I would love to say they have changed for the better,  but that's not really the case.  I have gone from fretting too much at night and not being able to settle,  to feeling sleepy the second I stop being active,  and sleeping in later and later in the mornings.

Also in addition there is weird dreams and borderline paranoia after a bad dream. The other night I was almost too scared to go and get a glass of water after a bad dream,  and spent the next hour laying there translating every noise into something bad. Given there are 2 dogs in the hallway,  it's pretty safe,  but also lots of bumps and bangs.

Another new thing is feeling anxious in crowded spaces. Not big reactions but after the last train journey and staring at the floor,  today I found myself on a packed train on the way to Guy's Hospital,  and realised after a few stops that I was clenching my jaw pretty hard. As well as still not feeling comfortable looking at anyone.

Certain things feel a little more relaxed,  but I am still losing focus mid flow,  impossible to concentrate,  and avoid tasks that are not very straightforward. For example rearranging something. The first part is fine,  but knowing that other jobs will spring up from it,  and knowing I can't focus to get them done stresses me to the point of avoiding it all together.

In order to stay awake I am keeping myself moving still. Finding myself going on late evening walks to get some air,  clear my head and stop myself either over thinking or falling asleep. The second I'm active I'm wide awake,  be it cross trainer or outdoors,  as long as the brain disengages,  I'm awake. If I start thinking,  the eyes grow heavy, fast!

Right now I am once again working out how I am going to explain this to the doctor tomorrow when I see her (and the students) I can't say for sure the meds are working,  certainly hasn't had the same effect as last time,  that's for sure. Totally different. So maybe the issue is different,  the dose is too low,  or something has changed.  Time will tell I guess.

Still can't get my head around how I can be so comfortable one minute with certain company,  and then freeze up and freak out at even the thought of others.

I do know I want a good night's sleep soon,  and to wake fresh. I know I want to be able to get up and go as I have in the past,  and I want the fog to clear from inside my head too.

One last thing,  I have had the letter from the nicely named Psychological Therapy dept and have confirmed my wish to enter the program. Now I just want the first appointment to be soon so I can start to work my way through this,  without having to unload all my thoughts onto innocent victims like Nikki. Thanks for putting up with me the other day.
Fingers crossed the wait for the appointment won't be too long now.
Naturally my over thinking mind is worried they haven't got my confirmation,  so that's helping! HURRY!

Aaah well,  tomorrow is another day,  and I get to see the doc. Now let's see if I can get to sleep tonight without laying there trying to work out how to explain myself all night.

Thanks to those who continue to offer genuine support.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The dogs

I am sure most people who know me are familiar with the gruesome twosome aka Tuvaaq and Aanaga. My two Alaskan Malamute's. Surrogate kids, furry company, or just a distraction from day to day life. They have served many roles over the years.


More recently, especially over the past couple of weeks, I have taken to having a little bit of quiet time with each of them. Sit on the floor, snuggle up with one of them, and make a bit of a fuss of them. Never when they are seeking attention, but more when I feel like giving some affection.
Both seem to have grown quite accustomed to this, and just enjoy the moment, staying relaxed rather than getting all excited as they did in years gone by. Probably one of the reasons I have not really made too much fuss of them before.

I realised that they are the continuity in my life, the one remaining constant that exists, and somehow makes everything seem OK, even when I am having a bad day. So it is nice to give them the fuss they deserve once in a while.
Before anyone gets carried away, calm cuddles and strokes, or curling up with the dog is my idea of fuss. Not toys, treats and excitement. Each to their own.

No idea why I am writing this, but think it is probably a combination of keeping my mind busy, and avoiding all the negativity. Trying to focus on some positives for once.

As a basic update on things at the moment. Still struggling to get my mind in gear. Over exerting myself ridiculously  at the moment in order to stay calm and alert. Today's distraction was two and a half hours walking through Richmond Park, for which my feet and legs have not yet forgiven me. Might do a piece on that tomorrow. But for now. Thanks to my dogs for keeping me at least this sane.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Struggling to stay awake.

One of the clear signs for me that my brain has had enough, is the lethargy. While the brain is active, all is well. I stay talkative, quite focused and alert. But as soon as there is nothing to distract me, I immediately become sleepy. I am guessing it is my brain wanting to switch off before it gets overloaded with thoughts and confusion. The situation is similar in the mornings too. Having become a creature of habit and getting up at 6 something every day for months now, suddenly I wake but in a very different state. Deep tiredness, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep. On a couple of occasions now I have done just that and slept in til around 8am.

Losing focus is very much a big thing for me right now, just writing this is a bit of an effort, with my eyes and mind darting about all over the place, and having to make a conscious effort to stay on track. That said, I am only writing this paragraph as I have completely lost my track.

Today has been on of those days so far for me, and possibly one of the worst in this phase to date. Waking up just before 7am, and doing as I promised myself, getting up and out with the dogs ASAP to try and get back into the stride of things. All went well, good hour walk with the dogs, some fresh air and getting the heart pumping. Got home, fed them, sat down for breakfast, watched a program while I ate.... Then went back to bed. Unable to fight the feeling today, I just had to go with the flow. Yet here I am, after an hours nap, and still yawning like I haven't slept for days. Bags under my eyes, looking like crap, and feeling how I look.

The ever confusing yo-yo feelings of depression strike again. This time yesterday I was full of trepidation and anxiety about meeting a friend for dinner. Nervous about the trip over to West London, lots of people and possible interactions. The train journey over there was spent mainly staring into space when on trains, avoiding looking at people, focusing on the floor most of the time. And the transfers between trains where I had to walk, I mainly stayed close to the wall and walked along looking at it out of the corner of my eye. Sounds weird I know, but I was just along for the ride, my brain did as it pleased.

Turns out though that the evening itself, at two quite relaxed venues, was a good moment of clarity for me, and it felt good to clear my head for a bit, and stay distracted long enough to unwind for a while. A breath of fresh air for sure, and much needed. Proof to myself that I'm still in here somewhere. So thanks to Jason for taking the time out of his day to keep me company, and get my brain working right for a bit. Some interesting conversations for sure, and I even unloaded a few thoughts that I struggle with.

The rest of the time, when I am able to fight the tiredness, I feel like a bit of a zombie right now if I'm honest. As I said before, losing focus on thoughts is an issue. Trying to stay on topic can be a fight. Even watching programs I love can be a chore just trying to concentrate enough to make sense of things.

You know when someone says "clear your mind", something most of us find impossible at the best of times, to think absolutely nothing. But for me, I have moments where it is just that..NOTHING! Like I am rebooting, just staring, with nothing at all going on, until I catch myself, then it is a huge wave of thoughts crashing over me. Much like a real wave, once it passes all that remains is fragments of it. So when my thought wave hits, it is like being bombarded with a whole day of thoughts and emotions at once, and seconds later you are left with tiny pieces which together form nothing. Soaked through with pieces you cannot put together. This if course is followed by deep confusion for an undetermined period of time.

So with all that going on, I am hardly surprised that my brain just wants me to sleep. Lock me and itself away from generating any more thoughts to deal with. Problem there is, no matter how nice sleep is, I don't wake rested, I feel like junk for it, then beat myself up for having wasted time in the day. I have other things I need to get done, but can neither find the motivation nor the concentration to take on some tasks that would otherwise be deemed mundane. So there is a void in the day where there is almost nothing I can do with myself. Walking would be super cool, but I am trying to moderate that as its taking its toll on my feet and achillies, and of course there are a finite number of places I can walk to. Sure I can travel somewhere to walk, but that seems like a chore. Driving or getting public transport is an effort.  All that said, the outdoors is calling me, so I might venture out for a while.

Distraction is what I need right now. Non stressful, relaxing distraction. Conversation over coffee, entertainment to keep my mind occupied, so I shall seek to find myself some of that. But you know, just writing that has caused a wave of tiredness, almost like my brain trying to shy away from the idea. So who knows eh.

The plan for me right now, the hours and days ahead is to fight sleeping and inactivity, to focus on getting up at a reasonable time. Structure my day in a way I can stay busy somehow, without exhausting myself and causing more stress. Easier said than done. I am seeing the doctor again in a weeks time, so hopefully I will have levelled out a bit by then, or at least she will be able to make sense of things, and point me in the right direction.

As a footnote, I have to say that last night was one of the hardest battles I have had to get to sleep for a few days now. Just unable to relax my mind, being bombarded with thoughts with no relevance to the day just gone. Overloaded, and all just flashing through my mind, it was a very unwelcome feeling, and one I was hoping had passed for the time being. Guess it shows you never know what to expect when your mind is misbehaving.

Right, this has been enough of a challenge for my tiny mind just getting this far, and trying to make sure it makes sense, so will leave it there.

Thank you to anyone who has shown genuine concern, less so to those who just want to pry or make stupid comments, both sides have a huge impact on coming to terms with the situation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I'm not you

Just something I have to get off my chest, and mean no offence by it. But I really need to speak my mind about it.

Over the past days and weeks, and even during the last period I was like this, people have been pretty good about speaking to me. Some bravely sharing their own experiences, some with great pick me up conversations, and others with the right intentions, but missing the mark. OK and a few who just really don't get it at all.

A few pointers.. Chin up, cheer up, don't stress, it's gonna be ok... All things you say to someone when they have just punctured a tyre, dropped a glass, or deleted a file they wanted. NOT things you say to people who are suffering with depression, anxiety or stress etc. I know it seems the right thing to say or do. I know it works when your mate just got brushed off by the girl they like, but this ISN'T the normal thought process here, and it is really not that simple.

Now I know we all have lows in our lives, some are listed above. There are things in day to day life that can make us feel pretty shitty for a while. Simple things, missed opportunities, rejections, or accidents. They all give us a sense of doom and gloom. But seeing the right person, hearing the right thing, or going to the right place makes it all seem like its OK again, and in no time you get over it.
The same when you are up against the clock, need to get so many things done at work or at home before time runs out, that feeling of stress, and momentary loss of ability to think straight. But it passes once the tasks are done, and is followed by relief and jubilation.

What you feel at that moment is certainly not nice. And when you are asked by someone what is up it is common to day how depressed you feel. Which is a fair comment, as you emotions are under pressure, you feel down, depressed fits.
When you work colleague asks you why you are so flustered, and you tell them "I'm so stressed, I have so much to get done" , again it's a fair assessment, and you are indeed feeling the effects of stress.

What I want to explain though it, as much as you know how it feels to experience those pressures, and emotions, and you can empathise with others who are under the cosh, there is a difference.
When you merely feel the pressure, but know why, can rationalise it, and understand the external pressures which are affecting you right now, be it a rejection for a job, or the workload of a current job, you can not only understand why you feel how you do, you also know that when that moment has passed, normality will return.

The difference for someone suffering with long term stress, depression, anxiety is quite simply, its irrational. Sure the initial trigger might make sense. Losing someone close to you, relationship break-up or something smaller and less significant like trouble at work, or just a lot to get done. So pretty much the same as the above. The real difference starts when simple, mundane tasks that you carry out daily without even thinking about, start to become problematic. You start over thinking , making easy things complicated or even impossible. Shy away from things you have done for years, and you mind reaches such a point of confusion, that it starts to shut down. Block things out, ignore important aspects of life like communication and personal care. Until it reaches a point where you cannot function properly.

Shutting out external forces is usually the first thing to happen. After all that is where most of the unwanted pressure is coming from, so eliminate that ASAP.
Then the differences between individuals start to appear. Functioning or non-functioning are the options. Some people struggling with life can go on like nothing has happened, go to work, coexist, and try to socialise. Others go the opposite way and become non functioning, shutting themselves away from everything, refusing help, and denying that anything is wrong.

Acknowledgement is key in both cases, and both realising and admitting that something is wrong is one of the hardest parts to come to terms with, let alone admitting to others. Partially because of the way people interpret what you mean when you say you are suffering with depression. As I said above, a lot of people don't have a clue what is going on in your mind, but try, sometimes too hard, to reassure and empathise. Sadly the effect of this misunderstanding is you will more than likely block this person out from any future attempts at help.

Where we go from here is very much an individual thing. It is nice and also reassuring that friends have shared their stories with me recently, and similarities clearly exist between our situations. That said, I do not and would not expect them to believe that I fully understand, nor that they fully understand my feelings. Anyone who has been to a true low point knows that it is a very individual feeling.

One thing I do have to say though is, I am NOT brave, bold, or stronger than others for speaking out so openly about this situation. I know people mean well when they say it, and I appreciate the sentiment, it means a lot. But I am no braver than anyone else living an coping with depression. It takes far more strength to fight your inner most thoughts and fear, than it does to write a blog and share some of the less emotive matters in the situation. All I am trying to do by writing this is show others suffering in silence that it is OK to admit how you feel, and you are not alone in the darkness. No one can take the pain from your mind, but sometimes just getting some of it out there and engaging in dialogue, is enough to make the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place for you. A 5 min conversation can lead to days of clearer thoughts, and less weight on your shoulders.

My advise to anyone who has a friend, or even thinks a friend might be suffering with mental health issues. IF you have the time and the mindset, IF you care about their wellbeing, IF you can commit to them... Just let them know you are there. A quick "if you ever need a chat" and a reassuring smile, then leaving it alone, can do more than you can imagine. And when the time is right for that friend, and they feel you are the right person to speak to, they will come knocking. If they don't, please don't take offence to it. It's not them snubbing you, it is them making a brave decision, and starting a journey. Just not with you. But please be happy for them, and occasionally, with no pressure implied, remind them you are there. A quick text to say "heya, how's you" goes a long way.

PS, "mental health" merely relates to the wellbeing of the mind, and is a huge umbrella for a whole host of conditions. Someone diagnosed with a mental health issue is not immediately schizophrenic, bi-polar or a self harmer. So please don't be ignorant about it. People should be able to discuss their mental health issues without the above stigma being associated, and it is the ignorant people out there who immediately pigeon hole people like this who compound the issue for those suffering, and in turn prevent them from seeking help.

Right, that's me done. Said more than I intended to, but a brief moment of clarity got me caught up.

Just remember, whether self diagnosed, or clinically diagnosed and medicated for it, mental health issues are different for everyone. You are not me, I am not you. Empathy is fine, complete understanding, and advice like "cheer up" does NOT help.

In a minute

My most frequent answer to most things right now. Get an idea, or realise something needs doing. Consider when to do it, and the answer comes out as "in a minute". Of course that minute never seems to come, and periodically you realise the list of things you want or need to do is ever growing. Growing to the point in fact where it is now becoming an organisational nightmare, so much so that all the ideas and needs now contained in the list are abandoned as too much effort.... And the list starts over.

Anything from moving an object from one room to another, right through to getting a much bigger job done. Most jobs appearing on the list are small and easy to complete, 5 mins tops. But for some reason, the idea of getting up and committing to getting it done is just one step too far outside the comfortable cocoon of safety I am currently shacked up in. I say shacked up not locked up as I know I can do them if I can just get my mind in the right place. Which happens from time to time, but not enough right now.

That minute I keep waiting for needs to be now. Well I say now, but I am actually a bit busy doing nothing at the moment, so will get to it soon instead. But here is my commitment to getting a few things done today.

Now for my excuse list...
It's raining. Therefore I can't walk the dogs, and if I don't walk the dogs, the start to my daily routine is upset already. Without that part, comes lethargy, and with that comes huge demotivation. In turn, sitting around leads to lots of thinking, or at least trying to, and from there a daily spiral begins.
Of course I can go for a walk without the dogs to get the machine in motion, but today I failed to do that, leading to a bit of an AM slump. So need to make the PM count, and get some chores lined up.

The next excuse is the tattoo. Stiff leg, discomfort getting moving, so it gave me my excuse this morning not to go for the walk, As does the want to keep the leg rested the best I can to aid healing, so again, great excuse to do naf all. In my mind at least.

The annoying thing is, a lot of things I have to do have specific windows of opportunity, and to miss them is basically punching myself in the balls. Price increases, and time limited offers for all sorts of things mean I need to act fast. But again, even though I can do some of them while I am sitting here writing this, the thought of getting into them, and going through a few easy steps, just feels like far too much effort and commitment for my brain to consider doing.

Sitting around, feeling so very tired, within an hour of getting up, feeling like I could go for a nap again. I know my body is craving some activity. I just need the motivation. And I might just have the answer. Jawbone UP. Having not used mine for months, since returning it as the 3rd one broke, I have been without an activity monitor. Considering the options out there, and sizing up the opposition, my biggest issue has been casting aside all the work I have done over the past year and half on my account. The FitBit Charge HR seemed like the best option to replace it, but I have just seen the UP2 is currently only £49 in Currys. I was considering the UP3, but with the heart rate only monitoring resting, and the price being somewhat higher, the 2 seems logical.

If I get a new monitor, I have a little faith in the fact that I will pick up my activity levels again. If not, I know I am in trouble, as the staying in and doing nothing is just a clear sign of things getting worse, not better. And I don't want that for a second.

Anyway, I better get on. I need to check my current list of to do things, and see what I can achieve today realistically, just to get myself back on the up and up. And if I can manage a trip to Currys to get the UP2, that will hopefully be a good start to getting active again. I can't do the cardio training I have been as its too much stress on the calf and tattoo right now, but all the rest should be fine. Here's to getting the heart pumping, and the mind working right again.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

So, I've been thinking

Probably not the best of ideas, given that its the root of my issues, but I'm only human right! And with no thinking, comes no doing.

Tracking back over the course of the past few weeks, trying to think where it all started to go wrong, it's impossible to say it was one event, if it was even anything I have done or been a part of that is. But I do know that in the past couple of months I have really gone outside my comfort zone, A LOT! Doing things I don't usually do, going to places which don't conform to "the norm" for me, and having thoughts and feelings which I, am in fairness, unfamiliar with.

After much advice and a little pressure, ok a fair bit of pressure, I did the whole "get back out there" thing. And I have to say, as  much fun as it was meeting people, spending time with them, and chatting, it has really taken its toll on me. Just sitting thinking about it now stresses me out. For the short while I bothered engaging with the whole "meet people" sites and apps, I felt obliged to impress or be someone I am not. Fact is, as per other entries, I am no good at that sort of thing, and am rarely as comfortable as I want to be with others.

There is one exception to the above, but things don't always go the way you expect, and sometimes you realise things a little too late.

So looking back, I have to say that trying to get out there and meet new women hasn't really worked out for me. If anything all it has done is allowed me to upset a few lovely people, and damage friendships rather than building new ones.

Then of course there is work, that in itself can really take its toll, and for quite a while now has added to the stressed of day to day life. That said, it has also been a great release too, so I can't honestly say what impact that has had. But can be sure it has played a part in the whole situation. Whether it be the nature of the job, or the environment, well that is another discussion.

My last blog entry on Tuesday mentioned that I might lose my writing brain for a bit, and I have to say, given that it is Saturday now, that seems to have happened. Trying to put paragraphs together is a bit of an effort, and thinking far enough ahead to write this, and keep the flow going is a nightmare. Let alone trying to stay focused on one thing for long enough to make it all make sense.

It's hard to say what impact the medication is having right now, 5 days in it will be having an effect, but as things have been a bit crazy the past few days, its hard to get a baseline. Tuesday evening I contacted a tattooist who's work I love as he said he had availability this week. Confirming Thursday all day was still available, I got thinking on ideas, and took the booking. Within the next 24 hours of conversation I went from one location to be tattooed to another, but stuck fast with my design idea.

The basis of the idea was quite a simple one. But might be awkward to explain. The artist is a new school artist Craig Measures (Instagram link to his work)  so the idea would have to be "cartoon like" I wanted something to relate to my ongoing battle with the day to day persona I have, and the inner me who constantly struggles to get out, so what better cartoon or comicbook character to relate to than The Hulk. Just out of coincidence, one of the things that is really helping me right now is working out. Be it cardio or weights, I have to go into a zone when I am training, so can put everything else on hold. Smack bang opposite my multigym is a huge Marvel mural, and directly opposite where I stand to train is... The Hulk. So the meaning ties in nicely for me.

Now obviously when I get a tattoo from a specific artist, I want their interpretation of the idea, so to jolly the idea up, we went with The Hulk smashing his way through a field of candy, just to put some bold and happy colours in there. Oh and a rainbow in the background, which is open to your own interpretation lol. So 24 hours after the first discussion I headed up to Birmingham for what would turn into a pretty epic day. Like I said earlier, things haven't been normal enough yet to get a baseline of how I'm actually doing.

Late morning we put the transfer on, and put a film on and got started. Anchorman played through, and as it did a couple more people joined us in the studio. Coffee was consumed, as were cookies and other sweet things, and progress was good. Over the course of the next X hours, we got through Anchorman, The Wedding Singer, Wreck It Ralph, Wayne's World and finally 40 Year old Virgin. By the time 40 YOV finished it was just us left in the studio, so it started to play over again, and got about half way through. Leaving at just after 9pm, I had been there for about 10 and a half hours, a fair bit of which was being tattooed. Craig admitted it had taken longer than expected, but was determined to keep his word and get it done in the day.

The end result, a stunning and bold piece, full of colour and character. Just what I needed. That said, the 130 mile drive home after was fun!
So here it is.





Now the downside to having your whole rather large calf tattooed with heavy colour in one go is, walking! As the healing starts, walking becomes rather uncomfortable to say the least. Not impossible, but just a little undesirable. With walking the dogs, and staying active having been my crutch recently, it leaves me in a bit of a bind. Today has been a first for a few things. First blog entry since meds, first dog walk since tattooing, and the first day of mixing with the mass public since doctors too. That went well!

Walking around Sainsburys earlier was a huge wake up call for me. Sitting in your own company it is easy to think that things are going well. But returning to the human race, and dealing with others really hits home just how you feel. Bit like coming home from 2 weeks away back to your home and dogs, and realise how much they stink. Put up with something for long enough and you become desensitised to it, so don't realise how it impacts you. When people put up with crap day in day out (from other people not dogs!) you soon just learn to live with it, and don't see how it affects you. Take a step back for a while, and on your return everything is a lot clearer to you. Then you have to decide what you are, and are not willing to put up with anymore.

Anyway, returning to the main subject before I sign off, thinking!
What I have realised is, with the best of intentions, sometimes things just don't work out. Be it your own ideas, or things others do and suggest, believing its for the best, from time to time the outcome is worse, not better. And then when you mix that with the issues of over thinking things, and anxiety, you are suddenly left with even more mess on your plate, and harder things to think about.

For me, for now, it is back to the depths of my own mind, and looking after myself, and my new tattoo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The trip to the doctors.

Well that was easier than expected....NOT!
Arriving in the area a little earlier than expected, I decided to go for an extended walk around the block. Having walked to the surgery, I was already nice and warm, but not ready to sit and wait, so wanted to make the waiting time as short as possible.

Rocking up at the surgery a few mins before the appointment (OK 5 mins), I went inside, registered my arrival and sat down. As soon as I did, the thoughts started all over again, along with fiddling hands and a bouncing knee, borderline uncontrollable. Wondering who this doctor was, and what they would be like. A few minutes later all was answered.

In the hallway appeared a lovely gentle looking lady, calling my name. As I got up and walked over, she introduced herself as the doctor. We sped down the hall to the consult room, and I sat down. Right, I thought, I have this all sorted out, so here goes. This is what I said.

I don't know how to explain myself, errm, depression, stress anxiety.... *I looked up to see if she was following. She was smiling and patiently waiting. *
I have been like this before, years ago, deeper, darker, I don't want to go back there. *My hands start gesturing and waving, my eyes searching around the room*
I can't ..... I don't ....... errrm. THIS! This is it.....

On looking back up, she was smiling back at me, a reassuring look on her face, she replied simply "ok".

Taking another deep breath and trying to calm my nerves, I start over again, this time a bit more composed, explaining that I had even written out what I wanted to say, but the stress of even having this conversation is just too much to think straight. Stopping for a moment, I just breathe, and can feel my heart pounding in my chest, light headed and slightly confused. I tell her this is how I am feeling right now, and how hard this consultation is for me.

We take a break for a moment while she looks through my notes, seeing how far back it is since such an episode occurred. I tell her its been 4-5 years, the notes confirm this.
Getting back to the present she enquires into what I feel might have triggered this, anything happened recently, or that I have been dwelling on for some time. We discuss possible triggers, and how I feel about aspects of day to day life. The obvious question of consideration of self harm comes up, and it is batted back with strong reassurances that I have never felt that way, and I confirm I would seek immediate help if it ever crossed my mind.

Now onto the sticky bit, how do I want to proceed. Knowing the options of meds, counselling or both, she decides that given how things are right now, starting on medication immediately would be wise, and as I like to speak openly, she also decided that a referral for counselling should also be made. Knowing of course that it could take some time. Another reason the meds should begin straight away. The decision is made to remain off work for the time being, and to allow things to normalise without provocation. No added stresses or changes, just me, daily life and the meds, and see how we all get along, and if the dose is right.

As this conversation went on, during breaks in speaking, I could feel my heart slowing, and started to feel more relaxed about things. Expressing this to the doctor, she was pleased by this, and said as hard as it had been it was most definitely the right thing to be doing now, and catching it before it gets any worse. Apparently recurrences of anxiety and depression can happen much faster, and strike much harder at times too. Good to know, and explains how fast I went down the pan in a week.

A referral form for the counselling form, a prescription for the medication, and a sick note for work are all printed and presented to me. She then says she would like to see me in two weeks time for a reassessment of the situation. Going through her diary it appears that the week she was aiming for is booked out with medical students in the surgery, and she is worried this might not be fair on me. I reply expressing my happiness for students to be present, and anything they can learn from this is fine by me. Looking back in slight shock and delight she says that if I am OK with it, it would be a great opportunity for them. Then it is agreed, that week is fine.

So here I sit now, after necking my first pill of many, after saying how strongly against the idea I was, given that they were the doctors decision, and me not asking for them, I am happier with them. The down sides of course are.. I'm officially on medication again now, so needs declaring when asked, and I didn't really want to be on them but hey. Then there are the hallucinations in the early days, at least that is what I had last time. Not so much full on hallucinations, but a blurred line between awake and asleep, conscious and subconscious. You know when you wake up in your dream, then wake up for real? Well try doing that about 4 times before you actually wake up. Quite strange. We shall see if that happens.

Then there is the one thing I hate the most. Mind numbness. At the moment I over think everything, even more than normal. Taking meds helps with that, but last time it swung me the complete opposite way. Lack of attention. You know when you think you need to do something, then you plan out how and when, then you drop the matter until the said time arrives? Well my thought process goes to "I must pay that bill.............Ah well!" And nothing in between.
Obviously a numb mind also could mean shorter blogs, I'm sorry! lol Lets see if the change is shorter, less, or just more rational and better structured entries.

One last thing before I go, and I know most won't have got this far, so am not expecting a huge group watching over me. But this is the first time I have ever been on these meds and been living alone, so actually have no one to tell me if I am acting differently, being stranger than normal, or anything like that. So going back to blog entries and social media etc, if you do see a change, please let me know. You don't have to come banging my door down, just mention it, so I am at least aware. Being off work, I am going to try and keep as much company as I can where possible, so again, if I see you, let me know how I'm doing.

Thanks for reading, thanks for the messages and support I have received in this short space of time. I know I say " I appreciate it" a lot, but it's not hollow, it's sincere, and the only way I know to express my gratitude.
One final thing. Sorry for being dull, depressing or just a little off with you if I have been. The fact I am even engaging with you shows my true intentions, but right now I tend to make a mess of them from time to time. So if you can, please look past this.



Aaaah...... BOOM!

Waking up this morning after another night of broken sleep,  I felt clear and calm. You know like when you wake after a bad headache or pain,  and for a moment all is well. That false hope the body and mind give you, before switching everything back on again,  and turning the intensity up a notch. Well,  that just happened.

Not uncommon to feel that way,  but having not been here for quite some time,  I have to run it by a fellow nutcase,  just to get clarification that it was "normal".  The answer came back,  and confirmed genuinely nuts.

When I first woke,  the first thoughts through my mind were,  hey I feel good,  why am I even going to the doctors today. Starting to think it was all in my head,  then the penny dropped... Of course it's all I'm my head idiot,  it's my frickin brain!

A few minutes after that,  the first random thoughts of the day started to filter into my head,  and from there it all went downhill fast. Imagine the old days at the stock markets, on the trading floor. A few people doing the trades,  and a whole floor of traders shouting and waving at each other.
That's what goes on in my head over the most basic thoughts. Strangely enough,  writing like this blocks them out,  focusing on one thing,  being creative takes all the energy from the over active mind and puts it all in one place. Maybe that is why the recent entries have been longer than some others,  me desperately trying to keep writing,  stay focused and stop the inevitable slump that comes after.

So after waking wondering why I was going to the doctors,  I am back where I was before,  and glad I'm going there in an hours time. I wish I could explain how anxious I am about it right now though. Not a good feeling. So I am gonna get ready,  put my headphones on and take a walk up there. Get some fresh air,  bombard the voices and thoughts with poor choices of music,  and go see a pro,  in the hope we are on the same page. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hi Doc, I'm going nuts!

For someone who has a past of, let's face it, mental health issues, but isn't receiving ongoing care for it, it's a really strange thing to have to go and see a doctor about. Usually you walk in, the doctor asks what's up, and you point to something, or present a symptom or injury to them. But when it's all in your head, you have to try and find a way of explaining yourself, without just saying "I'm depressed", or "I'm anxious".

Or at least I think you do! I'm not actually 100% sure how much explaining is necessary really, but I have always felt obliged to give some insight into the matter, just so they can make their own decisions on what the best course of action for you is. That said, as we know from numerous reports, GP's are only very basically trained for such issues, so how much information is really needed? That of course isn't a snipe at GP's, there is a limit to how much any one persons brain can absorb, so would rather the referral route, than the "I think I know what I am doing" one.

Last  night, after speaking with friends, and making the decision to go to the doctors, just to prove how messed up things are right now, I was fretting about it. That's right, after making the decision to get help, I was now worried about how to explain myself, and worried about how I would come across to them. Is that strange? Well it might be to you, but for me it is a classic symptom, and just reaffirms the issues I am having right now.

I got to about 1am and finally tried to change the subject in my head. So I imagined being underwater, scuba diving. Crystal clear waters, surrounded by a reef and loads of different species of fish. Just imagining myself drifting with the current, effortless. No finning, just gliding. That did the trick! That was also a eureka moment for me, and I realised that what would help right now is to get under the water again. Problem being, UK diving is rather nippy right now, and I have no drysuit, and obviously Red Sea etc costs money, and then there are the dogs etc. So it's unlikely I will be using that as therapy any time soon. But hey, I can try and find a way. Nemo 33 anyone?

Back to the whole doctor issue. I remember the last time, seeing a doctor I have known for years, and one I trust to listen before making a sweeping judgement. I felt at ease because I knew him I think. I explained that sleeping was a huge issue for me, getting my mind to stop was impossible, and it was affecting aspects of my day to day life. He got it, and we dealt with it step by step. I had counselling supplied by work, and at the end of it, I came out feeling alive again.
This time it is a doctor I have never met and know nothing about, so I am on the defensive straight away. I realise this sounds really stupid to some people, surely you just walk in and tell them what is up. But it isn't that simple and here is why.

Mental health issues span a huge expanse of conditions, and they all have very different ways of being dealt with. Especially when it comes to drugs, there are a multitude of pills and medications that can be prescribed. But it all depends on how your issues present.
For a physical issue the doctor can see it and assess it based on how it presents. For something in the head, it is very different, and it is also quite awkward. Have you ever tried to explain an object or a sensation to someone, without them having seen or experienced it. It really isn't easy, but the better you know someone, the easier it is to be on the same level and get your message across.

Then, even if you can explain it properly, you have the perception aspect of it. Example, tattooing. If two people with a tattoo discuss how it felt to have the procedure carried out, a lot of the time they will not only use different descriptive words, but also disagree about how the sensation felt.
Now take that to being a patient, trying to verbalise what is going on in your mind, in a way a complete stranger will understand.

I guess it comes back to the whole thing of keep it simple, but I don't do simple, so that in itself is a struggle for me.

So I have come up with this... And if need be I will have it in front of me when I see the doctor tomorrow. That way I won't ramble or lose my direction, but will say what is needed.

About 4-5 years ago I suffered quite badly with anxiety and depression. It wasn't the first time, but was the worst by far. Recently I have started having the same issues I had back then before I hit rock bottom, and am concerned that I am going back in that direction. Over thinking, trouble sleeping, lack of motivation, lack of concentration, and dwelling on certain aspects of life, both important and totally random.
A lot has changed for me over recent months, so I think the sudden instability has triggered this, as it did the last time. Last time I was put on medication, but would like to avoid that this time around, and see if I can shake it by other means first. Of course I am not ruling out the possibility.

Or words to that effect eh!

My appointment is early tomorrow morning, so I have about another 16-17 hours to get through before seeing someone about this.
Last night's blog entry alone had a positive effect for me, getting some thoughts and fears out there in the open, for me to understand a little better. Crazy as it might sound, typing and reading back most of the things I say, is like having the conversation I needed to have, but had no-one to have it with. Like one of those moments in something on TV, where something totally unrelated suddenly puts a case into perspective. It is the same for me, saying things, often typing them faster than I can think them (honestly, I think THAT slowly!.......... joke), words seem to appear from nowhere. Almost like opening the floodgates to my mind, and letting it all spill out, thoughts I could not access before are right there, and it makes sense.
Told you I was nuts!

So there we have it, the issue that has been smashing around inside my skull since late last night, driving me mad, and exhausting me mentally all day.
See there is another thing that has just come out that I had not even considered!

The mental exhaustion from the overthinking. Another classic symptom of the matter for me. Like a computer with some infected program running in the background sucking up all the resources, when you go into task manager, it is using 98% of CPU and memory, rendering the rest of the computers functions useless. THAT is how my head works when I am like this. A simple mundane issue will suck up all the resources and energy I have, and make it impossible for me to do the simplist of things. So sitting on the sofa staring at the TV which is switched off, is about all that is left within my limits of capabilities.

Right, before I run out of energy and shut down to conserve vital functions, I shall wrap things up here.

Basically the conclusion reached here is, keep things simple, explain the basics. That's all. Everything above was an example of my train of thought, just to come to a simple conclusion. Exhausting to read isn't it, and the real long way around.. Now imagine what it is like to have that thought process for most of the decisions you make every day. I kid you not, other than simple bodily requirements, everything else goes through the same mental red tape.
Needless to say, it is the reason I try and stick to a routine where decisions are not necessary. I can go the whole morning without needing to make any decisions, but once the first one arrives... Its over!

Right, that is enough this time. Here's to seeing the doctor. This time tomorrow I will have an idea of what their decision is.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Depression comes a knockin.

Before I say another word, I just want to get these few things out there.

Thank you to those who know me best, and understand the strange way my head works at times. And an even bigger thank you to those who go through the same processes and choose to share their thoughts with me. Your company on this journey makes it easier for sure.
Sorry to those who I impose my craziness on at times, who either don't understand what is going on, or would rightfully rather not be a part of it. I try and choose the right people to surround myself with when things start to go tits, up. Sometimes I get it wrong.
And finally sorry to those who don't get it at all. As most people who struggle with their own minds would agree, some things are best left unknown. This is certainly one of them.

Right, enough with the formalities, let's get down and dirty, but more down.... After all, that's what this entry is about.

Over the past week, a week which I have spent off work, some strange things have happened in my head. Totally understandable really, all things considered, but let's take a look all the same.
This week has been the first week I have spent "alone" for about 12-13 years. Not having spent such a long time in almost complete isolation can do strange things to you. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, yes I have kept company with some wonderful people in the past week too, but for the majority of the time, it's been alone. 

Before this week though, towards the end of last week in fact, I had a mini meltdown. Following a conversation with a friend, and some subsequent soul searching, I started to realise things were a little bit wrong upstairs, but skipped over it in the hope that it was just a glitch. However this week, slowly but surely the changes have started and the signs have started to appear that all is not well in paradise.  The last few days being the most telling, getting up later, losing focus on things, lack of motivation to name but a few. The worst of course being the slow demise of quality sleep due to over thinking. Once that part starts, I pretty much know I'm screwed, in the short term at least.

Some self destructive behaviour is the icing on the cake really, and in this case it is starting to consume foods which are usually avoided, and lack of interest in physical effects of them. Just the consumption of a few trigger foods for my gout alone is the sign that things ain't right. Fingers crossed now that I am realising why I'm doing it, I can do what's needed without a flare up of gout. Gout and depression together REALLY suck !

After being all melodramatic on Facebook earlier, I finally managed to speak to someone who gets me, enough to confirm what I was thinking, and get my head on the straight and narrow. We both agreed, I need to see a doctor, and ASAP!

Now before the eyes start rolling, and the tssk's being sounded, let me just say this. If you have not had depression or anxiety before, and I mean clinically recognised rather than just been a bit on edge, and have no idea what it does to your mind and your life, please politely shut the fuck up. 
But he is writing a blog, but he is going out with people, but he made a joke on Twitter.... YES ! Depressed people still live pretty normal lives most of the time, especially when things are just starting to take a downward turn.

Depressed people are humans, and do lots of things that normal people do on a day to day basis. But somewhere under the skin, a part or parts of their life is being shredded by their own mind. There is more than likely nothing wrong with what they are obsessing about, so even from the inside, say for example a work colleague, would not see for a second that something simple and petty is in fact destroying their life right now. 

For me, face to face, with people I know and care about, I am me. Same normal (slightly strange) Michael. Do I want to open up to them and get it all off my chest, of course I do! Will I, of course I won't. My respect for the relationship I have with that person prohibits me from burdening them with all my inner worries, which as I have said already, actually amount to nothing. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is stressing about something, and it's ended with you both laughing and saying "don't worry about it"? Well, that is pretty much how most conversations would go with someone with anxiety or depression. On this level anyway. There are of course much worse forms, for which I am grateful I do not suffer with.

I know I blog quite a bit about feeling down, and in fairness it is one of the reasons I started blogging anyway, so if you hadn't worked that much out already, no prize for you. Is it attention seeking, another form of the vague status update on Facebook that we have all grown to hate. Hell there are even Meme's about vague status updates floating about, whining on about "attention seekers" etc. Well how about looking at it this way.

A vague status update is indeed attention seeking. But the question is, why?
You see most people who live with depression won't talk about it. And will have either never have spoken to a professional about it, or will just deny it is an issue, even though it has been identified. 
So that vague status update that you are posting Meme's about, or sniping about with other friends on private messages, could well be the subliminal cry for help from someone desperate for someone to speak to, but too afraid or embarrassed to ask. 

Have you ever been told no, or ignored about something trivial? I bet it pissed you off, or at least upset you a bit. Now imagine you are ready to lay it all down, share your innermost worries or fears. You think you know the person you can talk to about it, you build yourself up, and..... nothing! They either give you the "you will be ok" line, ignore you, or ask if you can talk about it another time.
Trust me when I say this, you really only get one shot at opening up about something as deep as this, and a single knockback can send you spiralling into what feels like an eternal pit of doom. 

So as corny as it sounds, next time someone, who doesn't post something vague and cryptic every day, posts a bit of a strange status, if you have the time, and actually care at all, please just drop them a one liner asking if they are ok, or wanted to vent to someone. For someone like me, venting goes a long way. Hell you don't even have to read half the stuff I'm saying, just check for question marks, so questions don't go unanswered. If of course their punctuation is abysmal, tough shit I say, no time for poorly educated depressed people! .... That's a joke by the way, even depressed people can make jokes, especially at the cost of other depressed people! 

Anyway, for me, I have spent the whole evening going back and forth in my mind, do I need to see a doctor, am I just being stupid, is there another reason etc. But the simple fact is, if I am thinking it, I already know the answer. It is just my over thinking, over complex mind trying to, yup you guessed it, over think  the reasons why I would need to. Unfortunately, once that thought process starts, everything gets a little blurry. Bringing in other unrelated issues, trying to see if they play a part in the situation, and before you know it the world is a shitty place, and EVERYTHING is screwed up. 
I know I am just feeling like this, because I am! Not because of breaking up, not because work is a pretty shitty place sometimes recently. And not because of anniversaries, Xmas, lack of diving, missing my mum, wanting more money or any of the other crazy considerations that have entered my mind over recent hours and days. 

To be honest, as usual, just writing most of this stuff down, and knowing I am about to press publish, and throw all my inner most thoughts out there into cyber space for anyone and everyone to read, is helping. But of course it is far from the end of the matter. Medication is something I do NOT desire right not, avoiding as much as I can these days, inc pain killers, so I really don't want to be starting a new daily regiment of pills. Besides, they are only a quick fix, the real fix happens up in my strange little head, and only when I have a clear enough mind to make things right. 

The long and the short of it is, I have been dropping down for over a week now, I have another week off work to come, and somewhere in that time, I am going to be seeing a GP. Sooner rather than later if I can help it.
In the meantime I will be trying to maintain my routine of dog walks, training and other things to keep my mind occupied, and giving me reasons to get out of bed early, leave the house, and take in daylight and fresh air. All key things for me to ensure I do, just to make sure the downward trend at least levels out for now. Fingers crossed as ever, this is me catching myself from falling, and not going to end with me picking myself up from the bottom. It's been about five years since I had any serious issues with depression, and I am hoping that by writing this, I am facing my demons head on, and refusing to bow to their demands. 

Depression sucks, but fighting back at it makes me a stronger person each and every time. Here's to beating it once again, and getting back to being the same annoying idiot people have grown to know and despise.

Thanks for reading.

PS, if you suffer from depression, know this. You are not alone, but each of our journeys are different. I cannot swear to understand your thoughts, nor expect you to understand mine. But we share a common ground of confusion, despair, and lack of hope. On his level we are united, and can support one another. Providing someone to hear our cries, give us strength, and show one another that we can overcome these feelings.
Stand tall, do not be ashamed of saying you can't cope or need help. 
There will always be those who do not, and cannot understand how mentally crippling depression and anxiety can really be. Their ignorance or lack of knowledge should not be seen as lack of compassion or caring, but instead just an inability to truly empathise with you at this time in your life. 

If you have made it this far, but still have no idea what you just read. Thank you, for bothering to carry on reading. I hope that one day, should the need arise, and you experience either the symptoms, or identify someone who is, that this makes sense at last, and helps in some way. 

PPS... To those people who have been around me and made things normal over the past few days, thank you once more. I appreciate it more than I can ever express.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Laughter and great company

That's all it takes really. To have a good time, to smile, and unwind. But why the hell is it so hard to find that in someone of the opposite sex, and when you do, why is it always with the "it's complicated" ones?
I don't mean complicated as in they are complicated, I just mean the situation is. Not quite a "friend-zone" situation, but really not far from it in some cases.
Before I go any further I just want to say that the relationships I refer to are 100% platonic,

So there are girls in my life from all walks of life. Some of you are even reading this now. Depending what walk you are from, will determine just how much of a prick you think I am being writing this, but hey ho, I can't change your opinion, or what has happened between us.
Ex's, encounters, curiosities, friends, and of course my girl-friends. By girl-friend I mean the sort of female company I like to keep. Shop with, hang out with etc. Oh and I almost forgot, females of interest.

Anyway, I digress a little, as I usually do when writing, my mind shoots off in all different directions. Back to the point.

Obviously it's no big secret that I am single now, and obviously being a human, it's only natural to explore options for companionship. (More than just swiping right!)
There are many ways to do this, from expanding on existing friendships, to looking externally on sites and apps. Something my dear friend Sarah is very keen for me to do lol. Bless ya.

The one question that needs answering in all of these avenues is, what am I looking for? That's a simple question really isn't it. What everyone wants, which is..... ?
OK it's not actually that easy to answer. With a complicated mind comes complex needs and desires. I have sat in silence over recent days, trying to piece together a wishlist, things I want from a relationship. And what I have come up with is..... nothing really! I just can't put my finger on anything that makes sense.
Of course there are things I like, cuddles, company, and someone on my wavelength (which is a strange one in itself) But then there are other things that some people prioritise so highly, that I can live without, or are of no great importance to me.


So far this is making no sense to me, so I am going to change it up a bit....

Here goes a different take on what I am trying to say.

Recently I have spent a lot of time in various forms of female company, from meeting people for the first time, to getting to know people better. With a little mix of hanging out with girls I have known for a while now. And from these interactions I have come to a conclusion. Women are complicated. Either that or I'm in a seriously fucked up position with the women I know and socialise with, and any new woman who may come onto the scene.

Out meeting a lovely lady for the first time the other day, we had a blast. Yup it was a bit awkward at first, but we had fun, got to know each other a bit better, and agreed we will go out again. Coming away from the first meet though, as much fun as I had, I was left feeling nervous, and maybe even a little anxious. I know, you know the right one when you meet them, so maybe this is going nowhere. That said, it't not the first one, and not the first time I have come away feeling like that.
I have never done well with situations like that.
I don't hold out much hope for me meeting strangers and getting to know them. It's a lovely thing to do. But the whole awkwardness of it sucks royally, and really isn't my forte.

Then there are the other girls of my life. The ones who have been around a while, got to know, and have so much fun with.

Like the one today! YES YOU !!! You pain in the arse you!
Apologies for making you feel awkward if it does, but why the hell are you so much fun to be with, chat to, and know in general?
I know the day has been a long time in the making, and that we were both like little kids about it in the minutes up to meeting, meeting protocols by Whatsapp... seriously? lol
I know a lot of the getting to know someone you have been talking to online for a year is all done, but when you are me, that's the easy part. The meeting the real person is the bit that throws me a curve ball.
That said, it was so fluid and natural. Jokes, conversation, and a nice natural feeling. Nothing awkward, creepy or weird about it. Not from my end anyway.
To sit down to lunch with someone I have never met in person, be able to talk about any conversation we choose, and feel 100% comfortable about it is like a dream come true, and happens to me very rarely. Partly because I am a bit of a weirdo at times, and partly because I just don't click with too many women.

This has happened a few times recently, all with people I regularly talk about on the blog, and people who I spend a lot of time talking to. Three of the girls I refer to (ladies, women...) come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, etc, but somehow I click with them all. That natural and open feeling whenever I am around them, it is lovely to experience, and if I had to have something on a "wishlist" (going back to the first attempt at this blog), it would be how they all make me feel. Being three of them gives me a little peace of mind that it isn't simple infatuation, although sometimes I guess I question that.

So one question.... Why the hell can't I find someone that makes me feel like this, to have a relationship with? Holy shit it is SO frustrating. Take physical attributes, wealth, and even the filthy mind away from the deal, I would take the connection over any of those any day of the week. Not to say for one second that I don't believe any of them have any other the above, I have my suspicions haha (sorry).

Each time I spend any period of time with any of the ladies in my life like this, I feel recharged, revitalised, and human again. The conversation part is key I think, feeling so relaxed, and knowing that either party can say whatever is on their mind, and there will be no judgement, not mocking, just advice and understanding, mutually. Hopefully the result is mutual too, and they are not leaving me and going away feeling exhausted and stressed.

So firstly to say thank you to you all, you are bloody fantastic people, and I love ya all to bits, hopefully you know that I am here for you any time of day or night for anything. In a non weird way.

And a separate message to todays little bundle of fun lol. Thank you. For persisting with me, not getting fed up with my weirdness over the last year, and being brave enough to come for lunch today. It was a blast. As good as I can be with words at times, I really can't put into words how much it meant to me. Hopefully you know I don't mean that in a creepy way, but I hope we can do it again, and this time I might even let you speak too.

I guess what I am trying to say in all this is, I'm doomed, and have given up on meeting someone to have a proper relationship with. Hell, I have most things I want in life, and with cool friends like these, I don't need anything else. I have managed fine til now, and in reality am in a richer friend environment than I have been for a long time. Just cut me a little slack if the hugs last a second or two longer than normal... I'm just being friendly lol. (OK that bit was just weird)

Going through this "speak the truth" part of my life is really quite awkward at times, and I find myself saying things like I have above, and wondering how it might be perceived, especially when directed at certain groups of people like this has been. But hey, I'm not going to deny thinking it, so might as well throw it out there. Makes me quite vulnerable but you only live once.


I was encouraged to think again about the above and came up with the following summary of everything above, and to be fair, its probably a bit more honest still..

I am frustrated as fuck being able to have amazing friendships with amazing women, let my defenses down, and be ME (someone not a lot of people get to know)But when it comes to trying to form a relationship with someone, it goes out the window. Barriers, personas, and defensive. Not something I have managed to overcome to date, and I mean in a LONG time. I want to be myself, all the time. The me that has fun, genuine laughter, and a grin from ear to ear thinking about the good times I have shared.


Cheers for that Dave lol