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

Thursday, November 19, 2015


A hashtag I have been using a lot in recently, trying to feed my motivation to get back to the healthier way of life.
I just want to start by saying that healthy living doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. For years I have maintained a pretty healthy lifestyle, but still had a rather large intake of crap food from time to time. My addiction to soft drinks doesn't bode well either, but hey! This is my way, so sod off.

Having spent lots of time in and out of hospitals over recent years, one thing I can say quite confidently is I have pretty healthy insides. Many a comment made about a healthy heart after ECG's and blood tests. Good cholesterol and no sign of diabetes either. Eyes are good, lungs are better than they have been for years. And after a short spell of stress and weight gain, blood pressure is pretty fine and dandy too.

In all the ups and downs, with weight gains and losses over the years, sometimes swaying about 80-90lbs, I have always tried to stay active. I guess that is one of the reasons my legs have stayed pretty good over the years, definition wise anyway. Mechanically they are a bit buggered right now, but you can't have it all, right? Currently I am a little over where I want to be. I am sure I have done the guessing game before on here. Generally some are surprised to hear the number when they hear my weight. Others are hardly surprised and mock, to them I say F you!! lol

Times have been a little stressful over recent months, for some pretty obvious reasons, and a few others which I have kept to myself for the ease of every day life. Nothing life changing, just stress invoking. So after much reflection, soul searching and deep thinking (also known as over thinking to the point of self destruction), I decided that what I needed more than anything else right now was a little stability and structure. And for that I needed to plan each and every day out, to make it full and worthwhile, while allowing time for the more mundane things too like.... eeew! WORK!

To compliment my current physio routine, working on my achillies (recent post) I have decided to increase the activity, but lighten the load. Still walking the dogs, but only twice each a day now, the third walk was always their walk together, which obviously I can't do anymore. The up side to this is that I can take a little of the stress out of my feet, and save some time and energy, focusing it elsewhere instead.

My morning routine is now quite a busy one, and almost doesn't allow time for any changes. Up just after 6, get ready to take the dogs out, and go, finishing around half 7. Get in and changed, into the little home gym,
7.45. While the legs are still warm from the walking, headphones in, ASOT turned on and up, resistance turned right up, and start with the best part of an hour of cross trainer time. This is a change for me as usually the pace was much faster and the resistance fair. Now to take even more out of it, and feel much more in my quads, calfs and hams, the resistance up and speed low really hits them hard. Almost feels like a stair climber.
8.45, time for a quick sip, and a change of shirt, and its onto the weights. Hitting a few core groups, and of course the core itself.
9.15 and its time to take those aching tired muscles and put them through hell, namely the legs. It's physio routine time. With 6 movements all requiring numerous reps and sets, not to mention having to do them in different areas of the house, I allow myself 30 mins to get these done. So now we are rocking on in the day.
9.45 Finally all done. Quick change of clothes, feed the dogs, oh and its time for me to get some food and fluids in me too. Training on empty has always been my preference, and as long as I keep within my limits, it reduces my chances of nausea.
10am, dogs finished eating, time for me to actually sit down for a few mins, stuff my face with granola and orange juice, and unwind.

30 mins later, and I am preparing food, smoothies etc for taking to work.

Right now, with no other distractions in my life, and quite frankly feck all else to be doing, this is a routine I am happy with, can feel is paying off, and is within my comfort zone to maintain. Hopefully I can avoid an of the usual dramas or injuries which are normally the cause to calling it a day, quitting and piling on the pounds again.

As far as numbers go, I am filling my day with them, but very little focus on such a thing as a target weight etc. I know my happy place, I know how I feel when I am around that range. Same with my cardio, knowing what ballpark my heart rate is in has become second nature to me, The numbers I am watching are reps, movements, time, resistance etc, as can be seen here.

As seen here....

Another thing about my slight change to training is a bit strange.
With doing the cardio on the cross trainer, obviously I am holding on to something, so if I close my eyes there is no real danger of falling off. For some reason, even though I have a lovely TV screen right in front of the trainer, I have recently taken to zoning out, eyes closed, and visualising things. Anything that I need to visualise to either provide motivation, or to push me through the barriers as the legs start to fatigue. While doing this I have noticed something quite strange, and that is how controlled my breathing has become. Something I have struggled with for as long as I have done any cardio work. Obviously this is rather handy for scuba diving. So both healthy heart and breathing is great news.

Over all I'm feeling good, and would love to maintain the current routine, 6 days a week, into early next year. Making small changes here and there to keep it fresh. But main goals are simple.

Maintain physio routine, and eliminate achillies pain
Increase cardio load and keep challenging the heart and lungs.
Keep other muscle groups active, but avoid growth. Concentrate on strength and a little definition (vanity rocks!)
And of course, #FightBack !

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Doing the right thing.

We all try and do the right thing most of the time, right? Maybe our timing is a bit off, or the moment has passed before we manage to get around to it, but in the end, when all is said and done, we try and ensure we know right from wrong, and do the right thing.

So when your timing is off, along with doing what needs to be done, there is a certain element of apology needed to. Which becomes even more awkward when you are actually trying to apologise for something in the past. Now you are apologising that your apology is overdue, and then trying to make the apology seem sincere too. Tough gig.

Unfortunately, even the best intentions can sometimes get you kicked in the balls, and served with a side of "fuck off" too. Or so it seems.

Looking back at things you have done in life, realising in retrospect that it wasn't the right thing to do, or a particularly nice thing to do, you can feel obliged to apologise. Just like in the movies where people go around knocking on the doors of people they went to high school with, and apologising for being a douche, sometimes in life you feel compelled to do the same. Or I do anyway.

I have a strong ethic of not regretting things, to the point where I had it tattooed on me. How ironic would it be to regret that! But apologising when I have done something wrong. That is something I have got better at as I have aged. Realising that sometimes just a few words uttered can have a profound effect on someone. I can't name moments in life, but I know I have been on the receiving end of a few myself. Maybe that's what started me off, who knows. A conscience, me.... Goodness gracious!

As good as it as I have got, and no matter how carefully you choose your words, sometimes, recognition and apologies for what has happened will never be enough. Regardless of the reasoning or intentions buried deep within the apology, there are occasions where it is a pointless task, a waste of breath. And in some cases actually detrimental to the whole situation.

When all seems like it is going so well, when you feel like you are doing the right thing, sometimes just around the corner there is something waiting to trip you up, or just plain throw your apology right back in your face. Shooting you down, questioning your intentions, and goals.
Well, sometimes an apology is just that, a sincere expression of your feelings towards a situation you played a part in, and one which you realise had an outcome you had not considered.
Sometimes questioning it, or trying to dig through it and make sense of it, dissect every sentence, just makes the whole act of apologising flawed.

In other words, there are some times in life where you just have to STFU and get on with things. Trying to make amends for your own purposes might not suit the others involved, and if that is the case, you are in for a rough ride.
As I have just learned. Not sure if you still read the blog, but if you do, then I guess we both know where we stand now. You upright and strong, and me sitting in a muddy field, in the rain, covered in shit.
That said, that's is not meant to make anyone feel bad, it is what it is, after all. And I played my part in the situation. Not sure I was expecting the grilling I got, not convinced there was not more to be said, rather than making vague comments, and asking questions about things which were originally not even on the table. Guess that's how conversations work.

So, I won't cry on about it, I won't try and come across as the victim, I am after all a grown assed man who got himself into a situation I was unsure of, with a foggy head, and without enough respect to consider the feelings of the other parties. I made my bed, and I shall lay in it. I am glad I have had the opportunity to say my peace on the matter, before the cracks started to appear.

I come away educated, and with more respect for others.

Good people come and go in your life, and sometimes, rather than dwelling on things, it's better to let go with both hands and let what will be, be.

So the moral of the story is... Don't be a douche in the first place, then you won't ever get into a situation where you need to apologise far too late in the day, and make a total cluster fuck of what should have been a simple conversation.

Learning to walk again

For once, not a metaphor.
Following years of pain in my feet, mainly in my Achilles tendons, I finally decided to go to see the doctor about it. Coinciding with a flare up of gout, and with pain in the same region being hard to differentiate, I needed to know what was what. So as the gout subsided and the pain remained in my Achillies, I got the doctor to check them out. The diagnosis, Achillies Tendinopathy, aka a swelling and stiffness in the tendon, causing pain and difficulty walking. Anyone who reads this blog a lot will know, I LOVE walking! It is a huge part of my daily routine, and of course needs to be with the dogs.

One referral to the physios at Lewisham Hospital later, and I was examined, and given a series of exercises and stretches to do daily.
We went through a series of tests do check the distances the tendons moved. Measurements taken on day one showed quite a large difference between my left and right tendons. The right has always caused me the most pain, but the left plays up too.
After the first appointment I came away with a positive mindset that something could be done about the situation, and got stuck into the routine of following the program I had been given. Much to my surprise I started to notice a bit of a difference, and by the next appointment I felt like I was getting somewhere with it.

Unfortunately I was starting to get pain in my lower back and glutes now. Transference of the issue to another point. By the time of the second appointment I had a new physio with a new idea and checks. On mentioning my pain she checked the strength in my glutes by doing a side leg raise, then pushing the leg back down. Now she is only a little lady, so on the good leg she probably could have hung off it without it moving. But when we got to the right side, I was shocked, I lifted my leg fine, but it just collapsed as soon as she put any pressure on it at all. Truly shocking as I have never felt  had any weakness in there at all.

By all accounts, while I have been subconsciously managing the pain in my right achillies, I have in fact avoided using my right leg a lot, and because of this the muscle strength in that side has deteriorated quite badly. Cue the addition of more exercises to bolster strength in the right side. Side leg raises, and one leg stand to squats.

By the third appointment a few days ago, things have improved remarkably, and the balance between left and right is slowly equalising. The strength returning to my right glute and quads, and the pain when walking disappearing by the day.

And finally I reach the reason for the title of the entry. Learning to walk again.
Since realising there was hope, and taking health seriously again, I have decided to make my own contribution towards the fight for recovery, and made some changes of my own.
The main one being, teaching myself to walk in a different way to how I have done so for 40+ years.
I have always been a powerful walker, able to average 4.2mph a few years back (GPS measured) long strides, good endurance, and able to chalk up 10-20 miles in a day without worrying too much about it. In recent years my goal has been 10 miles a day, but the flare up of the tendinopathy has really dented that goal, with some days me not even wanting to walk the dogs.
However it was time for change.

Just a quick note, so powerful are my downward thrusts with my feet when walking, that I am prone to slipping, so as I push off with the leading foot, the foot will slip on the surface as I roll onto my toes. I also wear through trainers at an alarming rate!
So, with all the progress being made with the physio, I decided to give my feet a second chance. Consciously walking with less vigour, taking the pressure out of the strides, smaller steps, a more upright stance, and trying to block out the goal of time or distance, and instead concentrate on my strides and keeping them smooth.

Amazingly it seems to be working, I can do a full 5 mile walk in the mornings now with no ill effect on my achillies or any other part of my feet really. Maybe a little tightness in the toes, but I guess that is all down to a transference of impact from one part to the next.

The last time my tendons were measured, and the test done on my glutes, the improvement was huge. Greater range and motion in the side leg raises, surprising the physio somewhat as the leg carried on rising into the air almost out of reach for her. As well as an improvement in the strength too, able to resist the downward pushing much more. As for the elasticity of the tendons, the lunges I can do now are massive compared to when I started, even causing the physio to suggest easing off on stretches for the stronger left side, as otherwise I will be doing the splits next time I'm in.

I am really grateful to the NHS for providing me this physio, they take a lot of stick, but at times like this, they are a god send, and very competent at what they do. I can feel the changes happening as I do my stretch routine daily, so know it is playing its part.

The tough part for me now is to stay focused enough to continue with both aspects of the program, and maintain my determination to learn to walk again, but in a way which is beneficial to my body and health, and caring less about getting somewhere quickly, and being the fastest person on the pavement.  Changing the way you walk at this time in life really isn't easy. I realise there are other people out there overcoming much greater challenges with their walking, but from this small experience I have learned to respect them even more.

Just to add, I am familiar with changing how I walk regularly in the past, with flare ups of gout causing me to improvise, it be immobile. From those short spells alone, you soon learn about weight and pressure transference, and how it impacts other parts of the body.

Anyway, after a long  morning of walking, training and physio stretches (3 hours to be precise) its time for me to have breakfast.... Or is that lunch now?

Friday, November 13, 2015


Strange title, but hopefully it will make sense on a number of levels at some time soon.
First off, I just wanted to throw these out there....

A wise man once said....

Lately I've been hard to reach, I've been too long on my own
Everybody has a private world where they can be alone

Are you calling me? Are you trying to get through?
Are you reaching out for me, like I'm reaching out for you?

I'm just so fuckin' depressed, I just can't seem to get out this slump
If I could just get over this hump
But I need something to pull me out this dump,
I took my bruises, took my lumps
Fell down and I got right back up
But I need that spark to get psyched back up
In order for me to pick the mic back up
I don't know how or why or when I ended up in this position I'm in
I'm starting to feel distant again
So I decided just to pick this pen
Up and try to make an attempt to vent

OK, so that was actually from Eminem's "Beautiful" track. But I have to say, it really strikes a chord with me right now, and in fact, probably for quite a few periods in my life. Hell it's one of the reasons this blog even exists. Except instead of being an award winning musical talent, I am a lone blogger who does the same thing, but in a different way.

So, Faceless, why so. Well many years ago on a popular radio station in London, there was a show called "Faceless". I say a show, more a segment in the breakfast show on Kiss 100. The segment was a computerised voice reading a daily diary entry of a man. Someone from the true walks of life, dealing with the trials and tribulations of day to day life for the average Joe out there. Listening in daily you grew addicted to hearing what had happened to this complete stranger. Starting to understand what drove him, and how his mind worked. In fact hearing how powerful a diary entry could be is what first started me writing. Letting all those thoughts that were over-spilling out. Of course back then the internet was in its infancy, and blogs were none existent.

I mention this, as in a strange way, my blog is another version of the show. With people who don't really know me looking in for a glimpse of what is going on in my life. Maybe inadvertently, who knows. But the moment you start to read one of my more personal entries, that is what is happening. Before you wince and think that is a criticism, fear not, it's not. I am actually grateful that I attract any interest in a rather boring and mundane life, so thank you. I know my entries are embellished a little with humour (well I try anyway).

When I say "people who don't really know me" I mean it with the greatest of respect. I don't believe that people I interact with are not interested in me, and do not wish to get to know the real me. However there lays the problem, and the second link to the "Faceless" title.. Me !

Having lived as an almost alter ego for a few years, making connections with most of the people who have gone on to be some of my most frequent acquaintances, and of course a few friends along the way too, sometimes it is hard to distinguish which part of me is real, and which is fake.
Like a persistent liar struggles with the blurred line between the truth and the lie, I too struggle. With a very strange conflict indeed. One of who I am, who I became, and who the hell I was before all this started.

In 1995 I was in my early 20's and a new father. By my mid 20's I was separated, in a new relationship and changing jobs. By the eve of the new millennium I starting to become someone else. The internet was blowing up and become an alternate reality for many, groups were forming and popularity battles were beginning. By 2002, coming on for 30 I was this who new person. Oddly enough though, in future years I would come to question who that person even was.

Following the success of a website and internet forum for the car community, on a very very small scale I had gained popularity. People knew the name "Snazy" an obvious nickname which has followed me through life. (surname Snasdell, nickname Snazy...... you follow?), With popularity comes interest, and with interest comes social circles. In reality that is where the transition really began, with the introduction to rafts of new people, I suddenly had a chance to reinvent myself. Something that happened perfectly naturally, and without me even realising. Before long I was this Snazy guy, and had a certain persona to live up to. So each time I would go out, the game face would go on, and I would be this chubby, wannabe funny guy, who from time to time made an impression.

As the years rolled on, and people started to grow up a little, I got into a relationship, and people moved off to start families, careers and all that other stuff that grown ups do. Little by little the group disbanded, and a core of friends and mates remained. A group I am grateful to to this day. During this time I started to go in reverse, and ease away from this once internet persona, and return to regular old Michael, but there was a problem. Somewhere in all the excitement the master copy, the template had been lost, and so had my identity. Now becoming Michael again seemed a little harder than expected, so parts of Snazy remained.

Years later, as I cling for dear life to the last strands of that previous life, I bring into question my whole existence now. Not in a morbid way, but more a moral way. Who the bloody hell am I these days.

I was chatting to Sarah today, and as I was sitting sipping my coffee, my mind just wandered off. Not bored by the company, but challenged by the topic of conversation. Just the simple little things, like what I want from a friendship and a relationship. If you were asked that question right now, with a blank canvas, could you honestly answer it? Not what do you have, but what do you WANT!
Almost as perplexed as the day the careers adviser came into school, I was lost. Such a seemingly simple question, but without understanding me and my own needs in life, how the hell was I meant to answer that one. The meltdown began!

For the rest of the day I have been thrashing my tiny mind, playing the Eminem song over and over and over. Triggering lots of thoughts, memories, and emotions deep within.  For someone who has experienced quite a lot of emotions from both ends of the scale, to feel so empty and responseless is a very surreal feeling indeed. For someone with so much to say both verbally and in writing, I was honestly lost for words.

In all the bravado of life, keen to keep people close, eager to please, and living up to a reputation which seems to have followed me into my 40's, I have truly lost sight of the goal. I have no idea how to answer the question.

As a desperate response, all I could offer up were words of wisdom, or tried and failed anyway. Expressing that I think we all need to find the missing piece in our lives, the one thing that we as an individual lack, but someone else brings to us, as a gift, as a bond. Connecting you in a way that only the two of you can understand. It's mushy I know, but I was desperate. That said, there is some truth to it. Problem is, you can't put your finger on what "IT" is until it's there, and then it is so seamless, you struggle to find what exactly it is that makes the situation feel so right.
OK, ramble over.

Back to the problem. I struggle on a day to day basis to even make sense of what I am doing for the next 16-18 waking hours, let alone understand the complexities of my fragile and weird little brain. That said, I know I need to make contact with it somehow, and extract from it what exactly it is trying to tell me with all these strange thoughts, wild actions, and changes in mood.

Over the coming week I have some time off, so am firstly going to try and get on writing and maybe even finishing my book, and maybe do a little soul searching. So I apologise in advance for any strange blog entries. You don't have to read them, they are just there to throw the thoughts out of my head so they are there before me to make sense of. If you want to read them and get even more confused about me, feel free.

Finally before I sign off, there is one more thing. Who do YOU think I am? To many people I appear to be very different, hard headed, soft hearted, confident, confused, each of you see a rather different person. We all do that to some degree, but what almost alarms me is how peoples perceptions of me change so wildly as a different side of me is exposed. In an ideal world I would love to be the same open, honest and caring person to everyone. But the truth be known, some would exploit that, to those people I remain strong and manipulative. Some take advantage over the caring side, and overload the mind with all their worries, with no concern for my own. A very one sided, sounding board situation. So for that reason I remain complex.

Unfortunately, more for me than others, keeping up this charade takes its toll. Not just on me, but on others too. Failing to be able to swing far enough from one persona to another, I get jammed up and stuck in one frame of mind, and when most needed by friends, I am unable to shake myself free of this mindset, and fail to be there when needed. Shying away from obligation, choosing not to engage in a situation which I would in other circumstances be more than willing to help in. For that, I am truly sorry.

I try not to blow hot and cold, but know that is how it seems to some. Give me time, give me a second chance to show you I do care enough to be there when it counts.

Well, that will do for now, this is a lot longer than originally planned, and has digressed somewhat from the blog entry I had in my mind a few hours ago. Bring on the Blackberry Priv and the chance to hammer out some of my old style blogs where the actual real time thoughts flowed from my mind.

Thanks as ever for reading, I hope it makes sense to some somewhere along the way. It certainly feels better to have said it all.

PS, some have recently commented that I seem unhappy, or depressed. I can neither confirm nor deny this. After all to some, my mood is their perception. Right now I feel like I am on top of things, happy in my day to day life, and making progress with current goings on in my life.
I of course bow to the superior knowledge of those outside my head, they can probably see a lot more of what is going on than I choose to let myself see. You concerns are appreciated, and I am in no way shrugging your opinions off. I am merely trying to stay positive and keep my head above water. I have had some lows that I am aware of recently, and right now feel better than I did then.

One day at a time eh, who knows, I might even work myself out one day and click once more.
And they say women are complex!
Then again, I have been told numerous times in life that I am in touch with my feminine side, so I blame that!

100,000 page views.... Thank you

Yes, I know, 100,000 is a drop in the ocean these days, and I have been writing this blog for a while now. And yes "haha most of them are probably me"....

None the less, I wanted to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has ever bothered to read an entry from start to finish. Tech, complaints, or just soul searching, I am glad each one has made an impression of sorts. Some clearly more than others.

So thank you all for taking a moment out of your lives to take a look in on mine. It means a lot.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Get a grip !

That is what I am repeating to myself over and over recently. It is becoming very frustrating seeing myself gaining weight, knowing what I need to do to control it. Then promising myself that I will take control back............... And failing, badly!

As pointed out by a friend last week, my weight and body shape is something that has changed for better and worse numerous times over the past decade for example. It isn't a conscious decision to do so, but more dictated by my varying levels of health and self control. Not to mention my mental state at any given time.
Determined and dedicated, I can make huge changes in short periods of time, with seemingly very little effort. But when doom and gloom strike, it all goes to shit. I can't say I am particularly filled with doom right now, but I am certainly lacking willpower or even just plain old will!

T-shirts are getting tighter around the tummy again, yet arms and legs are looking good. Strange old body I have here, but one I need to get under control and fast.
Each week I say the old famous "next week". Then I binge all weekend as a final blowout, then fail to start. Each time it happens I beat myself up about it, and promise myself, next week.... See the cycle here?

There is no real excuse. I have a little man cave full of equipment to use, I have a bit of knowledge in training. Certainly enough to make a difference in my appearance. I can eat clean when I want to and am determined enough. But right now, none of that seems to matter, and I am doing nothing about the situation.

I should point out at this point that, having failed to motivate myself, I am  now trying to borderline embarrass myself into getting my shit together. Publicly announcing that I am failing myself, and trying to make a declaration of commitment to getting healthy again. This isn't a public cry for help as such. But please feel free to abuse me, or cheer me on, whichever you decide would be most effective.

My average weight varies +/- 30 or sol pounds. I have gone further both ways in the past, but most still maintain that at my lightest in years I looked borderline ill. My average weight surprises some people still, but it's a number I have become accustomed to these days.

For years my training ethos has been heavy and hard. Building muscle mass at quite a rate, making fitting into some clothes a challenge. That said, my physio pointed out a month ago that I have lost a large amount of muscle mass around my back, which surprisingly is a good thing for me. My words, not hers. Very noticeable for me when putting on wetsuits and scuba gear for sure.  The only downside to this is the loss has coincided with my loss of willpower, and the gaining around the waist.

In fairness to me (yes, excuse time) with recent issues with my achillies and glutes all coming to a head, and now seeing a second physio about the issues, I am mentally off my game in the name of self preservation, and physically off my game due to training limitations. That said, it's no excuse.

As I was saying, my training ethos, for years has been heavy, but I am slowly coming around to the fact that I am needing to tone more than build these days. Burn fat, and lose size, rather than build muscle and gain size. Contrary to my own beliefs, I'm apparently already quite large as muscle goes. With a GP exclaiming "oh my, you have huge arms, I mean HUGE arms" last year, I guess if someone who examines people daily says it, he must have a point.

I think this might actually be my folding point right now. I know how to train heavy, and obviously training lighter isn't so different. But the feeling between the two is worlds apart. The failure point feels different, fatigue is a whole different game, and the sensation of making changes feels confusing. But I NEED to do it.  I also NEED to get more active again. I am still up silly o'clock daily and out with the dogs, but with the weather changing the dogs are getting out less with me. Trying to pace myself so not to aggravate my achillies or glutes is a chore too. I am a power walker, not a stroller. Walking slowly makes me feel like I am getting old, and I hate it. Being overtaken is NOT cool!

So here I sit, gym equipment behind me, cloud over my head. Thinking to myself "next week", and really hoping that I am right this time. I need my mojo, I need that motivation and self discipline. I respect myself enough to care for myself. Now I just need to show it. Cut the crap eating, reduce intake, strip it all down, and for goodness sakes, WORK HARD !

I have a busy weekend ahead, but hopefully I will find the time to sit down with myself and get a training plan drawn up again. Not to high impact on my feet, allowing for morning stretches and physio too. Targeting my "soft" spots, and really taking things seriously again. I love feeling fitter than this, and heavens knows I like looking better than this. So now is the time.... Isn't it?

Wish me luck, scoff, or just close this blog and wonder why you just read all of this. Whatever you do, hopefully I will be busy getting my shit together and sorting myself out once and for all. Or at least once again! I know a lot of the above is just convenient as an excuse, I don't need telling to stop making them. I know as well as you that I am better than that. What I do know is that as much as an excuse as they are, they are also legitimate issues, but ones I can work around.... And I will !

Thanks for reading, and here's to next week. Oh and me not having to write another one of these "HELP MEEEEE!" style entries for a while.

PS, I know a few highly critical friends of mine will be reading this. I value your opinions truly, admire you commitment to yourselves, and your ongoing ability to maintain. In fact I envy that.
"One day I will be great, until then, I will be determined."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dear Road users.... Winter visibility.

This was originally going to be a very long winded and angry rant, but I had a change of heart, and thought I would go easy on some people out there.

Winter is upon us, the clocks have gone back, darker evening commutes home are here, and a lot of people, with the temperature dropping, and public transport getting busier, are turning to their cars once more.

I have a request of ALL of you using the roads in this season, and it's a profound one. Please read on and check yourself off against the following.

Let's start with windows shall we. Pretty important part of visibility really, and need attention in a number of ways. Firstly, in the mornings, when there is water settled on the windows, give them a quick wipe over. When you get in the car, you use the wipers quickly anyway. Think about it, you are using them so you can see out... So make sure you can see out of the rest of them too. They are there for a purpose.
As it gets colder still, frost and ice will form on the windows. Same again, it only take a minute, literally a minute to walk around with a scraper (99p from the errm, 99p Store, or should I say a quid at Poundland) Anyway, the better the quality, the quicker the job, so get one and put it in the door pocket or boot. Dew, ice, and even snow, it will get the windows clear in a jiffy.
Driving with obscured windows is not only an offence, but also plain bloody stupid and ignorant. I have no time for people who can't spare a minute of their time to make sure they can see out, both for their safety, and the safety of others. Junction are impossible with obscured windows, so do the right thing, and BEFORE you move off!

Lights. There are a fair few on a car, and each has a purpose, so I will quickly run through them.
First up, side lights. Underrated these days, with so many newer cars having DRL or Daytime Running Lights. Most people are aware the front of their car is brightly illuminated with LED's, myself included. So nowadays many go straight from having nothing switched on, to dipped beam.
The problem with this is the rear of the car has no lighting with DRL's, so where you would usually think, hmm visibility is dropping, lets whack the sidelights on, you now don't bother. But hey, genuinely not a huge deal.

Next up there are dash lights. Now I mention these, because a growing number of car manufacturers in their infinite wisdom (SEAT were one of the first) have decided that the dash lights should be on at all times, regardless of if you have turned any vehicle lighting on whatsoever. The problem here is, driving on urban streets, which are mainly well lit, a lot of drivers don't get that automatic, "hang on I can't see my speedo" trigger to light up. And with DRL's also putting light out in front of the car, people are forgetting to turn their lights on. As the days get shorter, and the roads get busier, especially as it becomes dark for the school run in the coming months, this becomes a serious issue.

One way around this is to get properly acquainted with your dashboard, and the lights and symbols on it. I have attached an image at the bottom of this entry with a very detailed explanation of all dash lights, but for now I just want to concentrate on a few.

Dipped beam, also known as the main headlight, but not on full beam.

The symbol you should see on your dash when driving at night. Confirmation you have rear lights, numberplate lights, and of course the dipped beam on at the front of the vehicle. If its not on, either something is broken, or you have forgotten to do something. You should also be using them in the daytime when visibility drops below 100 metres, due to smoke, fog, or rain / spray.

Main beam, also know as high beam.

If this one is on, your headlights are now as bright as they get. If you are following another road user, or having oncoming traffic in your sight, turn them OFF! You are blinding people, distracting them from the road, and could cause an accident.
The only time these should be being used is on dark, unlit roads where there are no other vehicles you could be affecting by having them on. In short, if you are on an unlit road and extra light would help, so long as you won't blind or dazzle anyone else, use them. But be ready to dip them (turn them back to normal) should circumstances change.

They are NOT an alternative to normal dipped beam, or to be used as a replacement or back-up if one of your dipped beams fail.

Fog lights, front.

For some reason this symbol can illuminate either orange or green, depending on the vehicle manufacturer. Slightly confusing to some, but the symbol remains the same. Left facing, light beam pointing down, with a squiggly line through the beam to suggest fog. For years used also as driving lights, looking cool lights, and also as an alternative to headlights once again, for those too lazy to replace blown bulbs. In reality, they are there to aid forward vision for the driver as the kerbs and edges of the roads get harder to pick out. Facing down more (pointing closer to the car) and kerbwards, they can be helpful, but are not a required piece of equipment.
Just to confuse matters more, manufacturers had a great idea to use these greatly underused lights as "adaptive lighting", so as a car starts to turn now, you may see one of its front foglights come on for a moment until the wheels straighten. This will NOT illuminate the dash light however.

And finally, the rear foglight, possibly the biggest bone of contention on the roads today.

Learn the symbol, and what colour it should be on your car.
The LAST light you will find yourself turning on, when road conditions have reached their worst. For some manufacturers its also the hardest to turn on, with the lighting switch having to be turned all the way, and then an extra click. Some are a press button, and will automatically turn back off again when the car and headlights are turned off, needing to be turned back on separately each time you light up.
Either way, they are the last lights for a reason. They are stupidly bright, blind drivers behind you, and so frequently left on after conditions improve. The only reason these should ever need to be turned on, is if the visibility is SEVERELY reduced. If you are following the car in front of you at a sensible following distance, and care barely make out its lights, switch them on. In an urban environment, maybe add a safety buffer, and make that the second or third car ahead.
On the motorway, use common sense, the car in front should be clearly visible. If not, check your distance, and assess if they are needed.
One common sense rule is this. If the car in front has theirs on, and you are wincing.... Make sure yours are not on.
The reason they are such a big issue is because when following a car with lights on, your eyes become fatigued and desensitised very quickly, a red light, is a red light. People struggle to see the brightness of a tail light changing to a brake light in good conditions. In poor conditions, with fog lights on, seeing a brake light coming on is even harder, as they are the same sort of brightness as the fog lights. That said, in the right conditions, when it's really foggy, you can actually differentiate a lot easier, and of course see the 3rd brake light appear if the car has one.

So now we know what lights are for what, let me briefly rant.
People who drive with a headlight out, and then just use fog lights or high beams as a substitute. You may be able to see where you are going a little better, but you are blinding or confusing other road users. A 6ft wide car with one head light becomes a 2ft wide motorcycle. Allowances for parked cars and smaller gaps for passing in go out the window.  Please, check your lights regularly, and make a habit of checking them on the back of other vehicles when following or in traffic. If one is out, fix it ASAP. And that does NOT mean next pay day.

Speaking of using the back of other vehicles to check your lights. When following another car, if you can see your headlights lighting up the inside of their car, or see it high on the back of a bus, or buildings even, your headlight alignment is out. You are again blinding other motorists, or at very least annoying the heck out of them. The bulb is most likely just not in properly. Or you may have had a minor bump and thought nothing of it, but now realise it's not right. Again fix it ASAP, please!! You also will fail the MOT for this, so worth sorting out.

In short, it's not a lot to ask. Clear your windows,  check your lights regularly, and maintain them if so required. Such a simple thing, but it makes such a difference on the roads for so many reasons.

If for any reason, you are one of those people who thinks lights and visibility are over rated, well I sincerely hope you are stopped, and fined by the Police or VOSA very soon. Maybe even have a defect notice issued, just to really drive it home to you.