Thursday, January 21, 2016
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
From a high to a low in an instant. An good day junked by irrational thought, and a moon bombing so quickly I can't keep control of it.
Not sure what happened, the day was going so well, but in the space of half an hour my mood has dropped to one if it's lowest points to date. Feeling hopeless, worthless and alone, and it really sucks.
Not sure what I can do to save myself from myself at the moment, so the simple solution seems to be sleep. But my mind isn't done with me yet and refuses to let me settle. Hence writing this. Desperately trying to get things out of my head so I can put the day to rest and move on.
A simple event like this can knock me back for days or even weeks. So I'm hoping I wake refreshed and can spend my day avoiding triggers and have a better one tomorrow.
I need this to stop, it's getting desperate now.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Sadly the ways we find to deal with things are not always ideal and come with baggage. For me this is the usual case, and when it comes to mental issues I regularly rob Peter to pay Paul, never actually tackling the root of the issue. Hence things in my life have a habit of building up and up, til it all just falls back down to earth.
Currently I am in such a situation, confusing dealing with issues, with creating more complexities. It's not a bad thing, but the two issues I am dealing with, depression and anxiety are only temporarily masked periodically, rather than getting to grips with them and leaving them behind me.
Instead of worrying about the initial triggers, I am now left fretting completely irrationally about other things.
I know this is all very cryptic to some, and it is intended that way. I am just trying to openly acknowledge that I am being an over sensitive idiot right now, and should take the time to appreciate things a little more, rather than stressing about them.
Thats all from me for now.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Blocking the outside out, disengaging from people, and avoiding social situations of all kinds happens with both anxiety and depression for me, but when only anxious, I say "only", I can still manage to get to smaller shops, communicate with a small few people, and of course exercise. With the depression I know that my day consists of dark rooms and staying in bed, and withdrawing from society to the point where even housework and day to day responsibilities suffer.
Anyway, back to therapy, that's what this entry is meant to be about.
Quickly looking back over the timeline.
Mid Nov, GP referred me to IAPT, the therapy section of the local NHS.
Early Dec, I received a letter acknowledging my referral, followed by an hour long phone call to see what therapy I needed.
Mid Dec, I received notice of my first therapy appointment for early Jan
Early Jan, went to first session and later blogged about it. I had been sent for CBT, but didn't feel it was going to work for me, but agreed to stick at it.
Today, I had my second appointment with the therapist. Last week I was given a sheet to fill out for 7 days, every two hours. Logging my activity, mood, mood intensity, sense of achievement, contact level and enjoyment. And also a test sheet to score my anxiety and depression. On arrival at the appointment I handed them over only to be given the log back telling me it was for me. Errm I lived those days, so am pretty sure I know how I felt. Thanks for giving me something pointless to do!
The test score sheet was glanced at then put away.
At the opening of the session I was told that the therapist had spoken to her boss, who had agreed with her that I should probably be referred to a "depression group". Run by 3 people, and considered high intensity, they felt that this would be a better way for me to progress. Or I could stay at one to one therapy and carry on as I am. No pressure.... but choose NOW, you can't do both to see which is best, its one or the other. In reality the sales technique used felt quite bullish, so naturally I went with the easy option and accepted the group sessions.
By all accounts it is more a course than a group, with presentations and education on depression and self esteem, touching on anxiety. Or there was another group dealing with anxiety and stress. But tackling my two issues together seems impossible. In the therapists own words, having a depression and anxiety group would take forever to to get through. Well sorry for being awkward. We can help with one or the other, but not both, choose!
So the course lasts til April, 90 mins a week, in Lewisham. Active participation is not required so I am told. On describing the course to me, she explained it was 90 mins with a break and refreshments in the middle. And that during these breaks people can mingle and interact. My reaction was "oh god, strange people", to which I was told it was good for me to be "forced" into a social situation and to interact with people. Guess you didn't read the section on my test score where I rated interactions with people as stressful and upsetting then.
All that said and done, most of my worry is caused by the anxiety and the unknown, I could get there and feel fine, I know this. But I can't help but feel that so far this whole therapy effort has been a farce, so am really not encouraged to hold out much hope for the next stage. With having an hour long phone assessment, then my first appointment being an assessment and introduction to CBT. Only for my second appointment to scrap everything that has happened so far, be given a huge pile of hand outs to read and be told, start with someone new again on a different road next week, really undermines my faith in trying any of this. I know these are tried and tested methods, but can't help feel ignored when I have said over and over that conventional counselling has worked for me before. Encouraging interaction, dealing with my past, and digging deep to find the root of this feeling. But hey, what do I know, I'm only the one trapped in my own head.
The outcome of todays session was about as negative as it can get really. I came home, tried to walk the dogs, managed Tuvaaq, got to the top of the road with Aana and turned back giving up. Great, too fed up to even walk! Coming back home with Aana, I ran a bath, had a quick soak, realised I was dropping off, so got out, dried off and went to bed for a couple of hours.
I would have to check back in my mood diary to see the last time I felt so low that I just completely shut down. But it has been a while. So to come from a help session and feel SO damn low, well that just sucks!
Since getting back up I have been for a walk on my own listening to music. I know I am not physically exhausted as my legs had plenty in them, but the motivation to keep moving, even with music in my ears was a struggle to say the least. So I am left feeling alone, withdrawn and misunderstood. Thrown from pillar to post as they make some kind of effort to help me. If I were to see my GP any time soon my feed back would be poor. If I could afford to go private with counselling, I would in a heartbeat.
Right, here is hoping the mood passes by tomorrow, and see if I can get back in the saddle, metaphorically speaking, and depending on the weather, maybe in the actual bike saddle.
Oh one other thing. Last week I expressed to the therapist how much exercise and walking I was doing, telling her distances and durations. Today she mentioned this, and I said yesterday I walked 15 miles and rode 25. She cocked her head and looked and me and said "in one day?" I said yes, I walk that most days. Glad she were listening last time!
Saturday, January 9, 2016
While exercise isn't inherrently dangerous in itself, the pretty rapid weight loss that is coming with it, partly due to the low food intake, isn't the healthy part of it. With a calorie burn of 5-6000 calories a day, and ending with a deficit after food of 3-5000 calories, it is no surprise I am losing a bit of weight at the moment. Not that I am complaining, I know I need to anyway, but not entirely convinced this is the way to go.
I have also dropped my caffeine intake right down, to try and aid sleeping and avoid the mild hyper activity I have right now. One 2 litre bottle now lasts 4-5 days. Two weeks ago the intake could have been 2x2 litre bottles a day. Quite the drop, and no headaches, so that's a bonus. I am drowsy at times, but maybe that is something to do with the activity level. (he said sitting down at the kitchen table yawning while writing this at midday. 10 miles done already this morning.)
The past few days, today especially, I have really struggled with anxiety. While out walking I was taking routes where I would be least likely to encounter anyone I know, cross away from street vendors and sales people, avoid beggers or any environment where I might encounter conversation or any form of contact with people. It's strange that my escape from letting my mind run wild, and the anxiety that causes takes me onto streets where I encounter another kind of anxiety. However being outside I am able to avoid the triggers easier than being at home.
Another problem is the times of loneliness, where I crave company, to chat, and offload to, are fought off by the feeling of anxiety at the thought of being in close proximity with someone. There are very few people I feel comfortable around right now, so considering being in the company of the wrong sort of energy person freaks me out. I have some great friends, and miss some dearly, but where my head is right now, I just can't risk being in their company, in fear of messing things up.
I ache from walking and exercising so much, my back is a mess, and would love a physio session or something soon. But the timing is so wrong. So for now, I shall manage the best I can, and forfeit physical comfort for the sake of mental stability, however slight it may be. The only other option is sleep more, but I don't want to become a duvet camper. Being out, active, breathing fresh air really feels like the best way.
Thinking while walking has become another thing I am doing now, which is a bummer as I have tried to shut my mind up while walking, the idea is escape. But the thought I can't get out of my head right now, is the was CBT has been presented to me. My interpretation being that I am in control of my thoughts, and therefore if my thoughts are my problem, and I am in control, it is all my fault. That's how my brain takes it right now. Being told you simply CAN'T do or think something is not a cure. Breaking the cycle, which I know is what CBT is really about is the key. But how do do you that when there are so many triggers and issues to over come?
This isn't just about ending a relationship, or having no one to talk to, this is about the bigger picture of how those events have changed my thinking and perception of friendships and relationships. My fear of both now is huge, hence I have become so withdrawn from society as a whole, and even after reactivating my Facebook, have chosen not to engage with anyone. Quite frankly I am fuckin terrified of screwing up any more friendships or losing any more important people from my life. Being hidden away in my little shell, with limited contact with people. Not leaning or depending on any one person too much, so cancellations or let downs don't result in such huge mood bombs. It's all the plan, to keep myself safe..... from myself! If that makes any sense.
Retreating, running scared, shutting as much out as possible really feels like the safest option for me right now, and helps me avoid the feeling of self blame, and block this path of self destruction.
An example of how my mind works. While typing this I have received a message on my phone. I haven't looked at it as already my mind is being negative, and telling me the message is going to be cancelling the only high of the day which has been planned for a while. That would turn into self loathing, and in turn I would start to punish myself again with more physical activity to silence my mind.
Right, I better get on with other things and try and do some shopping, see if I can manage that. Better read the message to eh!
Thanks for reading.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
This all comes on what in theory is a breakthrough day for me. Having spent the majority of the past week away from social media, and deleting all my contacts on Facebook, today I flicked the switch to get back online. It is also the day that I saw my first real person face to face about the therapy I have been longing for since November.
Let's start at the beginning shall we. The social media blackout, why and did it help?
First up, why. Well because sometimes the world can become a really noisy place, and to hear yourself think, you need to turn off the distractions of what is for a better word a fake life, and concentrate on the realities surrounding you. Spending hours a day viewing and sharing words of wisdom, cute animals, and crazy peoples rants (yes mine!) is all well and good, but when the time comes to prioritise, it isn't hard to guess which has to go. The silence is amazing, in both a very calming way, and also a very anxious way, especially for me. With FB being a primary point of contact for some people, I feel I might have cut my nose off to spite my face.
So did it help. Obviously not from reading the above paragraph you might think.Well, wrong!
After a couple of days, and getting used to the differences it made in my day today life, things become a little more normal. Being what I would describe as an over active user on FB anyway, it is actually quite empowering to find other things to do, and keep things to yourself, for a while at least. That said, it did make me realise how important a role FB has had in certain elements of my life over the years.
Coming back on to FB I had a number of friend requests waiting for me, thankfully a small number, which allows me to adjust my feed as the number grows (if anyone else adds me). It was nice to see some genuine and friendly names, some who I have missed, right there. But in the new world, it's not about the numbers, but more about the quality. I don't want 5,000 friends to look special, I want everyone on there to want to be in contact with me, rather than add through obligation.
In short, I see a controlled reintroduction to FB to be a positive thing. That said, my interactions will be very limited, as will the content I choose to share on there. Old habits die hard, but that is one that has to go.
Next up, therapy, or should I say Psychological Therapies (PT).
Having first been referred back in mid November, and contacted a month later by phone for an assessment, I eventually received an appointment with a real person face to face, for January (2 months from referral). Today was the day.
With a Midday appointment, I was mindful to get there as close to the time as possible as waiting rooms, eye contact etc isn't good for me right now. I get anxious and twitchy. Imagine my delight when not only is there no receptionist to speak to, and confirm you are in the right place, but also no one to tell you the sessions are running 20 mins late. Suffering from anxiety, in a new place for the first time, with no one to speak to, and just left to wait. Is this some sort of acid test or something? Seriously though, I know it is a department of the NHS which is under huge strain right now, and only once you are in the system can you appreciate how stretched it is.
Eventually I was greeted and taken into a room to have a chat. My notes were flicked through, my documentation checked over, and it was agreed that my anxiety is on the increase right now. Imagine that!
She went on to explain that the type of therapy chosen for me by the phone assessor is CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I am no expert on it, and have some reading to do, but the fundamentals seem sound certainly for some issues. Breaking a situation down into 4 categories, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. So a situation leads you to think something, triggering an emotion, which in turn may result in physical feelings and / or an action. Simple really, and when you run through scenario's, it is easy to see how it works. Learning to take control of a situation which affects you, and preventing the 4 categories becoming negative. As I say though, for some situations that is easy, for others not so.
The session was 30 mins but over ran, partly being the first session, and secondly I think from the sheer complexity of the situation I was trying to put across. It's not just me getting anxious around people, it is a WHOLE lot more than that. A fact I feel was slightly lost, as each time I tried to introduce another part of the issue, it was somehow tied into something I had already said. They are the pro's, they know best, and if there is an association, fine. But from my perspective certain elements are very stand alone.
Towards the end I was asked to give some examples of goals I want to achieve through these sessions. Keeping in mind that the standard package is 6 x 30 min sessions. I think I will be hard pushed to achieve much in that time, especially as I am in a negative frame of mind about the process already. So I am going to think over the coming week and put together notes of issues and goals, and see how they want to approach the matter. I don't want to be patched up, I want to be fixed. I am a complex old beast, and I know I have issues to overcome, and the more I look, the more I find. The whole situation is like taking an old car that has been sitting for years to a garage and asking them to fix it up. The more you strip away, the more broken and damaged things you will find.
A couple of things I found amusing during the session are below.
On asking what kinds of counselling or therapy I have had before, I explained I had counselling and felt good to open up and offload things that had built up. I was told that that isn't what we will be doing, and to forget about the past, as CBT focuses on the here and now. Which is fine.... If your here and now issues aren't a product of the past! The idea that I will just sweep everything under the carpet and start over is a fantasy.
On asking about my physical feelings and actions in a stressful situation, and explaining I use exercise, walking and cycling to get away from the situation, and prevent myself from being able to think, I was told this is a good thing.
When I then explained that these walks could be 8-10 miles, and some days I have done far more, resulting in causing physical pain and discomfort to my feet, legs and back. I was quite simply told, don't do that.
Oh OK, I I just told you a coping mechanism I have found, which I know can be negative, especially when walking in pain, but I should just stop. Turn off the desire to run away and escape, simple as that! I'm all fixed now!
If I tell you I went for a 90 minute 6 mile walk immediately after the session, it might give an indication of how I felt leaving there.
Looking back years in my blog I made an entry when I went for my first counselling session, and how positive I felt leaving there. Without even reading back, although I know I was right in the middle of one of the hardest times of my life, I know full well I felt relief and looked forward to the next counselling session. So I am yet to be convinced that CBT is the way to go for me right now.
In other matters, getting back into cycling has been a great thing for me, really remembering why I loved it so much before now. Slowly increasing the mileage.
Things in my head are far from settled yet, especially with today's adventure. Having built myself up to the fact that when therapy starts, the recovery will come with it. Now I am left with dread that this is going to be a long road.
Sleep improving with a change in diet and intake, planning my days a bit better, and trying not to lay in in the mornings, instead being up by 6.30. My mood diary has been of great help to me, I would recommend doing that to anyone. Weight loss has started, and starting out quite rapidly too, so that feels nice. And getting into a routine of training and making sure I challenge myself physically is also a good thing for me. Keeps me busy, distracted, and focused on myself.
Right, I shall end there for now, my back is hurting from over working myself recently, so time to rest, the only way I know how. Walk the dogs.
Final thanks to that small group of special people keeping me on the straight and narrow, even when I am being an arsehole! I wouldn't be making the progress I am without you all.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
With the changes over the past 4-5 years, not to mention the rapid changes over the past 6 months, I can honestly say I have completely lost touch with who I am, or what direction I want to head in. So here we are, a clean slate, Facebook cleared of friends, and deactivated for a while. Hoping my return will be to a smaller, more genuine friend pool, people I know I don't need to impress or be anyone else but myself. But there is so much more to life than Facebook and social media.
I share my whole life with the world, not as a scream for attention, but just as a way of letting go of things. For so long in my life I had my mum to fall back on. Hours spent around the kitchen table, discussing things that bothered me, blowing off steam, and just getting stuff off my chest. When you think about every waking moment of your day, you really do build up some thoughts in your head, some of which you need to get rid of before they consume you. Others are just things that you just need to say once, in the open, just to let it go and be done with.
After mum died, I had my girlfriend who I could talk to, BBM or in the evenings, it was the same sort of thing, sometimes a little intense, but it felt two sided, so didn't seem like a burden. Who knows, maybe that played a part in the eventual demise. And when all else failed, it has always been good to have a small network of friends I can turn to and scream out loud when it all becomes too much. My final resort, to at least put things on the back burner is walking the dogs, or just getting out in the open world. A short escape from the realities of life, but knowing I have to come back to them eventually.
This is where it has become tough for me lately, going for walk after walk, finding each one less satisfying and having to walk further to relax my mind enough to head for home. Reaching a point now where my body is in pain from over doing it, but my mind demands we keep going. Eyes darting around in my head, making things blurry as I walk, unable to focus or pay attention to things, crossing roads can even be problematic if I can't focus for long enough to check its safe. Silly I know but a reality. Crossing at a 3 way junction when my head is spinning is nigh on impossible, going with the eventual leap of faith.
I listen to music too, while walking or training, again keeping the brain occupied on lyrics. Sadly is reaching the point now where I have listened to so much music, while having so many different thoughts, that I have started to build associations with songs to moods. So time to find more music for now I guess. It's the one last escape I have left that doesn't cause me physical discomfort.
All in all, when this reinvention takes place, I need to consider all the above, and find a way to live my life where I offer the friendship and companionship that I always have. Have time to listen to friends, and be there to support them when they need it, but for once, get the balance right and make sure I have the same available to me too, rather than it being a one way street. I am not saying for a second that people don't support me, of course they do, and I am thankful to have some amazing friends out there who have made a huge difference in my life in many ways. But I need to learn to take advantage of what they offer, rather than hiding away and trying to deal with life on my own.
The main groundbreaker for me is realising that I need to live my life for myself. Not in a boo-hoo I'm so lonely way, but in a look after #1 kinda way. Over recent months I have realised that I suffer whenever I put myself to one side, or start trying to please others. I can look at things I have done, which started out to get someones attention, so in that regard I am an attention seeker I guess. But in the most primitive form, and one we all partake in. Unfortunately, once immersed in this act or role, everything else falls to the wayside and my own goals are lost once again. This can last for a few days, or months on end. Either way it disrupts my own life cycle, and need to stop getting so caught up in other things.
I need a routine which works for me, mentally, physically and emotionally. I need people around me, close by, who just get me, and accept me for who and what I am. Support during lows, and a kick up the arse when I am lacking motivation. Motivation for things like getting back into shape, as I so badly want to do right now. Another reason for turning away from the distractions of life and social media, so I can focus on myself. Shaping the self destructive behaviour into something more productive, and getting back to a place I can actually start to like myself again, physically at least.
Mentally I loathe myself right now. Disappointing people, not being who they thought I was, unable to maintain friendships and relationship. Unable to connect with those interested in getting to know me, eye contact is a rare thing for me right now, avoiding places with too many people so not to run the risk of conversations etc. My head is a total mess, and going up and down, round and round like a fairground ride. I just want to get off, lay down and let my head settle for a while.
I don't know how much the events of recent days have affected me. I know I have withdrawn, I know I am not being the person people know, and I have a feeling I am somewhat needy right now. Not that I want to be, but stepping back and looking at my actions and behaviour, I can see how that would be perceived. I do know that I have learned valuable lessons recently, and I need to take them and grow from them, if I want to carry on in the direction I want my life to go in. Uncomplicated, pure, and under my own control.
So that is where I am heading for my next existence, when released from this temporary hold on life, I hope to come back stronger, mentally and physically. To disappoint less, to achieve more, and to treasure the valuable friendships I have in my life.
Thanks for reading, see you on the other side..
PS, might be later than Tuesday 5th now
Saturday, January 2, 2016
Available on all other methods, apart from Twitter. So email, WhatsApp, BBM, SMS.
I know this seems really strange, and will have a mixed reaction. I know it already has, with some not getting the gist of what I am trying to do, but hopefully I will achieve its main goal, which is to start many things afresh, which a lot of are all interconnected on Facebook.
If I have 50 friends on my list by this time next week (if I'm back on by then) I will feel blessed.
There are people on these who passed away, some quite a few years ago now, there are people I no longer speak with, others are there for the sake of being there, and then there are those poor souls I bore the shit out of with my whining and rambling.
So in this process, I will avoid the awkwardness some might feel about deleting me for being a tad irritating, I will clear out the people who are pointless on being there, and I will most importantly move on from my past.
The crunch comes with the decision not to add anyone back after deleting them. It's not a popularity contest, I am not hoping that within 5 days I will have hundreds of friend requests and feel all special about myself. Quite simply I guess, I don't want to impose myself on anyone, and have them feel obligated to accept my request. I am sure over time I will start adding people again, but for now, it's all about a fresh start for me, and those on the list at present.
Let me be very clear here, no one has done anything wrong, no one has caused this decision. Although recent events have certainly helped confirm my decision is the right one. Anyone adding me will be accepted, I have no grudges or crosses to bear.
One of the main factors in this decision has been me. Over sharing, being annoying, or just spending too much time on there trying to connect, and be someone. But what I have noticed is once again the internet is consuming me, and I am living to appease others. Not through their demands, but through my own desire to make people laugh, keep people on side, and whatever other sad reasons you can think of for being a tiny internet celebrity to a small captive audience.
Looking back, I realise that I am more open than most, and while not bottling things up is a good thing, spewing it all over the place like hot lava, to a group of people who don't actually care about whatever medical issue, emotional problem etc I am having. Some do of course, and the engagement is brilliant, so thank you to anyone who does. But for the majority I am just the one that posts something good one out of twenty times.
Then there is life off the internet. Health in general. Changing my food intake. Something I have struggled to get a handle on for a long time now, but as I am going through this moment, I suddenly feel empowered and determined to make it count. I am not getting any younger, and have already had my fair share of issues with my health, and there are more to follow I am sure. Of course I will avoid sharing any more of those, but at the same time I want to look after myself more.
While still on the matter of health, it isn't just eating right, but also getting the right levels of exercise. Something I have done well at in the past, but over and over let it slide because of lifestyle choices. I am not saying it will be perfection from here on in, far from it. But the last 6 or so months have been big for changes for me, so why not embrace it and do what I have needed to do for a long time.
LOOK AFTER MYSELF !
I have recently taken on a whole new perspective on friendships with genuine friends, and there is a group of people out there who have made a big difference. You know who you are if I have seen you recently, you are one of them. From heart to heart chats, to simple hugs, and of course some great words of wisdom and kicks in the pants. It has all been important, and all led me to this point I am at today.
OK so all the above is pretty positive, so lets drop a mood bomb. The past 48 hours have sucked big time, with me overcomplicating things, over thinking, and of course over reacting to events. I won't lie and say otherwise, and I am sorry to anyone I have ignored, or been quiet with over that time. It was, and is about me, not you.
It is also the reason that after deleting my friends list on Facebook, I will deactivate the account for a while. Probably putting it back on around Monday or Tuesday at the soonest. I need to relax and have some time to myself, without getting caught up on the goings on in the world of Facebook. So IF you are going to re-add me, I would say leave it til Tuesday to save searching for me.
I believe I am easy to find when the account is active by using the URL with /snazy at the end. So something like facebook.com/snazy .
For now I am going to go and hide from social media a bit more, and rethink how I will tackle it when I return. There will be changes for sure.
In the meantime I remain on BBM / Whatsapp / SMS / email
Once again, it's nothing personal to anyone, hope people understand.