I am coming to the end of my current stay in the United States. I have only a few days left before I fly back home to the UK and I couldn’t be more relieved. After a year of hardcore studying just to be able to ensure I pass the year I feel burned the fuck out. I’ve experienced so many headaches, late nights, early mornings, sleep deprivations… I’m so ready to go home. School life here is just astoundingly hard, and I have no idea how Americans manage to cope, keeping up good grades, socialising, and not burning out. Hell, I’ve barely had time to myself these past 6 weeks or so. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep, and as I approach my departure I just want to decompress from it all.
With schoolwork all but complete, I’m trying to look back on my time here to figure out what I have learned, what experiences I’ve had that I’ll be able to take forward, and if this has all been worthwhile.
In response to the latter, I believe all the “pain and suffering” I’ve endured has been worthwhile. Coming to California to study film has taught me more than I have ever learned back home. The level of professionalism in the students here are miles above anything I’ve seen in British kids: myself included. Coming to California has pushed me to become better at what I do – or rather what I want to do for a profession. It has made me a better filmmaker. It has made me question everything about why I’m trying to break into the media industry whilst also reaffirming my commitment to the creative process. This has been the most sustained traumatic experience of my life in the most positive of ways.
Moving back home I’m hoping to bring the skills and expertise I’ve picked up to pass on to other students and to influence my own work in the future.
On the mental health side of things I think I have learned a lot about what I need going forward. I have probably been saying this for over a year now, but I really need therapy. I am a social wreck. Everyday I wake up needing social interaction, but not wanting to face it. I am scared to open up and get close to people because of learned behaviour. I’m living in this bubble of self-imposed containment and it is destroying my soul. It feels incredibly frustrating. The priority when returning home will be to get myself a therapist and look into evaluating the efficacy of my current medication; because as it stands I am not entirely convinced that sertraline is working for me anymore. I am still taking the medication, and I haven’t missed a dose for more than a year or perhaps longer, but I am growing concerned that I may have become resistant to it.
Thinking back over my time at university at home in the U.K. and here in the U.S. I think there has been a marked and increased level of anxiety presenting in my personality that I initially chalked up to being new stresses of moving away from home, living in unfamiliar territory, and studying hard. The reality is this is something, that while likely related to this external stressors, is also the anxiety side of anxiety & depression. Any time a social situation presents itself I start to clam up, my chest tightens, and I have the urge to remove myself from any and all speaking scenarios. I have been feeling this since before I began education again… (EDIT: I deleted a long diatribe here, but realised something else in the process) … thinking back on it, I think I have felt this way through most of my life. I remember a lot of experiences in my life where I felt this anxiety in the pit of my stomach when encountering a social scenario. It is something I have never directly resolved and is something I need help with; because whilst this may currently be causing me social problems now, if it is left unchecked, it will cause me professional problems in the future. I need to be able to communicate with other human beings face-to-face, despite how much I’d rather do all my communication in the form of written language.
Right now, I may be feeling burned out and exhausted, but in the weeks and months to come I hope to see a reinvigoration as I build on this year abroad and go on to my final year at university.
This month I’ve been mostly battling with low mood. It’s made me question the efficacy of my medication, my coping strategies, and possibly worst of all – what I’m doing with my life.
Perhaps it’s just March, which has been notoriously a terrible time of year for me. Perhaps it is a form of seasonal anxiety. I don’t really know. I know most of it is in my head, my way of thinking, that has been dwelling on negative thoughts/memories. I was also struck with a cold during this period, so that might have had an effect. Regardless, I’ve just tried to keep on keeping on despite how miserable I have been feeling. I’ve done my school work, I’ve kept to routines as best I can, but nothing stops the flood of anxiety and shit-kicking my mind gives me as I try to go to sleep.
What I’ve realised is that I need an outlet for this angst, a way to channel it. My studies currently are not exactly the most fertile ground for this, which has led to a lot of internalisation that has begun to manifest in semi self-harm. It’s been a while since I covered this, but my method of self-harm is not to cut myself, but to punch solid objects. Around 10 years ago I punched a signpost so hard after a night of drinking and feeling low, I suffered a “boxer’s fracture” in my right hand. I now no longer have a knuckle in my pinky. I have scuffed my knuckles on other occasions since, but no serious damage, as I somehow consciously reign back the strength of those punches. This is likely a sub-conscious reaction to having broken my hand all those years ago and not wanting to permanently damage myself.
I give all this background because I find myself more frequently positioning myself near a wall in my apartment attempting to punch it without breaking it – stupid hollow, plaster walls. Which is probably a good thing; I’m not exactly punching it full strength to break the wall or my hand. What it has done is to make me understand how much I need an outlet for this aggression, because what is depression if it’s not anger turned inwards?
I have known for over a year that I need 1-to-1 therapy, but I think I may need to supplement that with a physical outlet. Like a punchbag. Something safe and controlled, maybe even a martial arts class. Something to channel and express the inexpressible. I’m not an aggressive person, I often go out of my way to avoid conflict, which wherein lies the problem – I internalise the conflict and don’t express it.
Right now, I don’t have a short term solution to this. I have around 6 weeks left in the U.S.. Starting therapy when I’m about to leave seems like a waste of money. Similarly with beginning a martial art. I wouldn’t even know where to begin there. I also don’t want to waste money on a punchbag that I wouldn’t be able to bring home. So I feel stuck.
This is a reoccurring theme in depression: feeling stuck. Feeling a lack of control. And this is something I have been feeling a lot this month. Trying to find a place to live next semester with little to no luck. Unable to afford to spend Spring Break away from campus and instead doing nothing. Being buried in school work. I feel stuck with my own anger and unable to release it. It’s a pressure cooker that has been building to explode.
And I feel powerless to stop it.
All I can do is keep on keeping on. I’m trying to set goals; I’m almost counting down the days to returning home. I’m trying to look forward to seeing friends and family again. I’m trying to remain optimistic about my housing for next year. I’m hoping that I can find a therapist relatively quickly when I get back to help work through my problems before I start back at uni in Sept/Oct. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with the rest of my summer. I have other hopes and ambitions, but in this moment I just want to use it to fix myself.
There have been some interesting developments this month. From studies to mental health, it has been quite a time.
This is a mental health dairy so let’s start with the mental health first.
My medication began to run out last month, and so I was required to visit the Doctor for essentially a check up. Part of this involved the standard survey I have become familiar with over the past 10 years or so. The official nomenclature for it escapes me, but if you’ve ever been a patient of a mental health disorder I can guarantee you know the exact quiz I am talking about. It basically gives the medical practitioner an idea of how your mood has been for the previous 2 weeks. It’s a good indicator to assess where your mind is.
For the first time, I think, since my initial diagnosis I circled a lot of zeroes. It genuinely surprised me by how well I was feeling and had been feeling for several weeks. In a way it worried me, because I didn’t realise I was for all intents and purposes a relatively fine individual. I still don’t even truly know how that content was found. But found it was, and I accept that perhaps my mental state is in the best frame than it has been for some time.
Well, perhaps until recent weeks.
That’s kind of glib, and it shouldn’t really be taken as literal truth. What I’m talking about is my studies. There’s a lot to digest with this, but I’m going to begin with where this segue comes from, which is a screenwriting class that I am taking.
In the past few weeks the screenwriting class has begun to focus more tightly on our own independent script ideas. For over 5 years I’ve been sitting on an idea that draws on a lot of my experience of living with anxiety & depression. I’ve had trouble returning to the idea in that time, even though it is something that I am deeply passionate about. I feel like the story needs to be told, and I hope a large enough audience would want to see it to spread the message that I want it to convey. The trouble I have with writing the story is that because of the subject matter I have to put myself in the mindset of someone who is suicidal. And while I am no longer that person, it drags up a lot of memories and feelings that are associated with my past.
For a while last month I was okay with feelings of loneliness. I was able to remedy the issue by engaging with the world around me – from going to the local supermarket, to even the mall. Just being out in public. With the school workload increasing it is becoming more and more difficult to self-medicate in that regard and I tend to stay in places that are quieter for studying – including my own apartment. With that pilling on top of the writing, in which I am determined to write the best story I possibly can, it’s causing me some minor distress. I’m not even entirely of the belief that what I am feeling is symptoms of actual depression, but more like symptoms of sympathy and empathy. I feel sorrow for what I experienced only a few short years ago, but greater sorrow for the fictional character(s) that I am putting through the trauma.
How I’ve been coping so far is by distancing myself from the material when I can, and I’ve tried meditating a lot more on the issue to think about it in objective terms. The good news is that at time of writing I seem to have a decent layout for the story’s structure, and it should hopefully begin to flow on the page better as the class progresses. I am able to give myself a bit more of a break from that world and live in the present.
I think I am also having difficultly reconciling my time left here as it slowly dwindles away and I feel as though all I have done is work. There’s so much of the country I would still like to explore, but whether I’ll have the time or money is becoming a concern the more time passes.
In less melancholic news; my appointment with the doctor last month also yielded some positive information that I wanted to collect since beginning Keto at the end of December. At my last appointment in November a nurse took a bunch of my vitals, including weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and so on.
I took the opportunity in my appointment to ask for a copy of those to compare with recent results. It has been several weeks since this appointment, but what the vitals helped to set is the baseline of my progress, as I didn’t take any stats prior to starting the diet. I am proud to say that the comparative results are extremely uplifting in that my heart rate is in a much healthier place than it was a year ago. I also found my weight recorded from last year, which appears to show me at my heaviest of all time. With that, I am down 40lbs in a 12 month period, and since beginning in December I am down, as of today, just over 20lbs!
I’ve been taking progress pictures weekly to ensure that the changes are documented. In the past month I’ve noticed that most of my clothes no long fit. I had to put a new notch in my belt to keep my jeans up, which are essentially now 2001- era rock/goth baggy jeans! This has all been a huge boost to my self-esteem. It has also been nearly a full month since I was last tempted by the devil that is pizza. I’m feeling really good about all of this. I’m seeing changes in my face, my neck, my hips… even my wrists are shrinking as shown by how much tighter I’m having to strap my watch to it.
I’m not saying I’m in the best shape of my life, I still have about 100lbs+ before I’m really there, but this is something unique for me. I have never experienced weight loss like this. To see the hard work and dedication paying off, even in the most subtle ways, is extremely rewarding for a fat guy who up until last year had never seen scales retreat in his entire life.
Overall I am feeling very positive. I’m already thinking ahead to how I can continue the diet when I return home for the summer, but also if I choose to go travelling for a week over the Spring Break. This diet is literally changing my life and I couldn’t be happier. As I said, I still have a long ways to go, but I know that I never want to be that fat again. And I’m not pinning my hopes that this cures my anxiety or depression, but I know it has and is going to go a long way to helping restore my confidence and self-esteem.
Welcome to year 6 and the 5th anniversary since I began writing this blog!
The tone of Diary of a Depressed… since year 1 has somewhat shifted to where it is now. I used to take myself a little too seriously, I probably still do, but I hope the darkness of some of the posts is balanced out a more with humour. I certainly hope the way I express myself has drastically improved over time! I know this space can get extremely reflexive and self-centred, but that is kinda the nature of this beast. A massive thank you to those who have stuck with and continue to read my ramblings.
Now on with the show.
Things this month have actually been pretty good. No real mood swings, no massive downers. It’s been a month where I got stuff done. I finished editing a short film I’d been working on since December. I also doubled down on this Keto diet… thingy. I am currently around 5 weeks into the diet, having 100% committed to it maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago. Currently I am down around 13lbs… maybe. There’s a good chance I could be down around 24lbs. Why I am uncertain is because I didn’t actually weigh myself when I started before Christmas. So I’m going by a rough weight guesstimation from my last weigh-in, which could be more. It could be less, but HAHAHA no. It’ll definitely be more. Also, 13lbs is categorically the definite amount that I have lost thus far since I began weighing in 3 weeks ago. I’ve also been on the diet now longer than when I became ill last year, which a part of me was worried that I had become ill somehow because of this. I think it proves to me that the illness last year was entirely unrelated to keto.
What has been great about this process is seeing the minor transformations. I keep photographic records week to week, although I’ve not really noticed the changes I can see those changes when I compare the oldest to the newest. I’m keeping track of my dietary intake, which helps a lot. What has been the most satisfying is finding clothes becoming loose. My belt is currently on it’s tightest notch and barely holds my jeans up, which will likely mean I’ll have to start adding my own notches very soon. My go to casual shirt is also fairly baggy now too. It’s a strange place for me to be in, as someone who has never lost weight, and certainly not this much weight in such a relatively short period of time.
It feels good to be making this transformation, and it feels great to be finally doing something about my weight after 25+ years of feeling and being overweight. A huge part of my depression originates from my own self-loathing of my appearance. I’ve never been the athletic type, I would get bullied in school, I’ve had confidence issues all my life because I didn’t feel secure with my appearance. Now that is changing, I hope to feel more confident and have more self-esteem as the weight continues to go.
Besides this, not a lot else has really been going on. I’ve been stuck inside for most of the holidays into mid-January thanks to weeksof torrential rain. I’ve also been mostly broke so going out and doing indoor activities, like going to the cinema, has been off the cards. But, I’ve had a pretty good month regardless. I caught up on a bunch of films and TV that I’d been meaning to do. I started catching up on reading. I started playing chess with a friend back home via a website,which is something I haven’t played since I was a kid. I still suck at it (he’s currently beating me 10-3), but it’s a great challenge.
Classes for my 2nd and final semester in the U.S. began last week, in which I was able to secure a seat in all the classes I requested. There’s no production classes this semester, so my schedule shouldn’t be as hectic as last year, but I’m already anticipating some challenges, specifically from an acting class. As mentioned above, I don’t have very much confidence/self-esteem. I took this class purposefully to help overcome that. I’ve had two classes so far and I’m already feeling out of my comfort zone. Partially I feel silly and terrible, and embarrassed about it; on the other hand, it feels good to get out of the comfort zone.
I feel somewhat confident in my academic skills in that I don’t really feel like university/college is all that challenging — outside of the production classes that is. So when I saw this class was available I knew I had to take it to push my boundaries. Whilst other classes are going to pose their own set of relatively minor challenges, this is the one class that will probably tax me the most in terms of dealing with a subject that I have only ever witnessed from the outside. But it should be fun. It should be engaging, and it should be great for my self-esteem.
Otherwise, this month has pretty much been maintenance. I’ve enjoyed the downtime despite the disappointment of not getting out much. I got caught up on a bunch o’ stuff. And there are things coming up that I am looking forward to (and this is all despite the dumpster fire that has been Donald Trump’s first week as president! Oy, vey!!).
So I guess that’s it for this month. Until next time…
These past few months might have been my busiest yet between studies, film projects, and travelling. In the U.S. it was Thanksgiving break, so I took the opportunity and planned to take the time off as most students I knew would be away from school for the majority of it. My friend (who shall henceforth be referred to as “Garth”) came to visit in that time too and we took a road trip to Arizona/Utah for 5 days. In that time we visited Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, which was just stunning. I’ll post some pictures below that I took on my iPhone 6S.
It was a great break away from all of the university related stuff I’d been experiencing, albeit exhausting at times, having driven 12 hours to reach Flagstaff from San Diego and visa versa, plus journey times elsewhere. It was overall a great experience in which Garth and I rekindled our friendship after not seeing each other for many years, even though we still kept in touch. His visit was exactly what I needed at the right time.
On a materialistic front; for a while I’ve been thinking about getting a DSLR camera. As a film student it would come in handy, giving me hands on experience that is more beneficial than any class will teach, but also as a film student it’s just stupid not to have a camera. My knowledge of lenses and focal lengths is still basically theoretical and I’ve been thinking for over a year now about getting a starter camera. Coming back with iPhone pictures of these incredible landscapes at Monument Valley and The Grand Canyon were great, but I really wished I could have taken better pictures. Basically, the trip gave me a kick in the arse to actually buy a DSLR camera.
The reason why I’m discussing this at length is that it is a pretty big deal to me. I try not to spend much money on myself for “things”, more so with moving around frequently, but also because I don’t especially have much in the way of money. I don’t really write about it any more, probably not since the days of 2012, but money has never been my friend and tends to trickle through my fingers like sand.
In recent years it has become a lot better, or perhaps I should say I have become better with money. Meh, it’s a little of column A, a little of column B. I’m lucky enough to not only be funded for my education by the government, but also through university scholarships, and even some financial support from time to time from my family. Even so, typically, it can be difficult to make ends meet, even more so now I’m studying abroad. So spending a three-figure sum on myself was a tough decision and one that I had to talk myself into, because this is not a luxury item. This is not just for fun. This is something that will help me academically and professionally.
I mention all of this because of the anxiety money gives me.
It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, and spending big sums makes me feel like I’d be making a huge mistake in doing so.
I didn’t even want to tell my father I’d spent money on it, but I didn’t want to lie when I spoke to him on the phone when I expressed slight disappointment in the photos I took, he said, and I quote;
“You have a good eye for film and taking pictures.”
This gave me the courage to tell him I’d spent money on a camera (even though I don’t have to justify anything to him). Instead of an anticipated put down or derogatory remark he was actually supportive of my choice. He completely agreed with every rationale I had made and even suggested that I probably should have made the leap sooner.
It was validation I didn’t know I needed, something I never seek openly from my father because of our tumultuous history. Our relationship seems to be have repaired to a more standard familial dynamic, which is something that I’m not sure how comfortable I am with. This did however make me feel better about my choice, again, something that I wasn’t sure I was seeking from him.
On the social front, the past few weeks have seen a marked improvement.
Seeing Garth and participating in so many film shoots over the past month, interacting with people, has helped improve my confidence and allowed me to become more extrovert – something I haven’t seen of myself probably since before I began this blog. In days of old I viewed myself as someone who, whilst introverted, had a large circle of friends with whom I could be extroverted with. This recent feeling of confidence has been a huge boost to my self-esteem.
But having been so busy with film shoots and being an editor for most of them has left me with limited time. In fact, several weeks have passed since I began writing this post, which means it’s going up later than initially anticipated and is now encompassing December as well as November.
This is what studying abroad has taught me; that studying at university level in the U.S. is much more hard work than anywhere else. Many European students that I’ve spoken to have also expressed a similar sentiment. Honestly, I have no idea how any student here finds free time to have a social life with the workload – and this is coming from someone who’s a borderline workaholic!So yeah, this workload has been intense. There have been sleepless nights, there have been all-nighters, and there has been an incredible amount of stress to get the work done.
I got to a point where I rationalised dropping the ball on some papers in order to get other projects finished, whether or not this will come back and bite me in the arse remains to be seen, but as I wrote above, I have no idea how anyone gets through their workload in the U.S. and no wonder it takes 4 years or more to graduate for a lot of students.
But that’s all over with now. At least for 2016. In 2017 the pain begins all over again. (I’m only half joking).
For now though, I want to look towards the future.
Last year ended downbeat. Okay, to be completely honest, most of the past year or more my reflections month-to-month have been fairly downbeat. However, I don’t really feel like things are all that bad. Sure, my mental state is constantly in flux and that probably reflects in the negative posts. I’ve still not secured a therapist to work through my longstanding issues, but I think now I am a lot more aware of where my thoughts, and my ‘rules for living’, come from. I’m acutely aware now that these rules, or at least some of them, are the the reason why I make myself isolated as opposed to isolation happening to me. It’s something internal that needs work.
I’m spending Christmas and New Year alone for the most part. From what I can work out I think 2 of my roommates will be around at different times, but mostly I’ll be alone – and I’m kinda okay with it. Sure, I miss my family, and I wish I could be home to spend it with them, but I also don’t feel so much like it’s going to be soul destroying. I’ll be able to FaceTime home and sort of spend some of Christmas with them in a long-distance way. It’s not ideal, but I think it will service both my emotional needs, and my family’s emotional needs. What I’m trying to say is that it is going to be hard, but it won’t be as hard as what some people would believe. I’m not likely to be found staring out of a window at the rain whilst wallowing in self-pity… despite San Diego being scheduled for (and even as I write this) rain most of the holiday weekend.
My plans for the holidays were going to involve going to the beach, but the state of the weather will likely wash away any hope of getting out that way at least until after Christmas Day. Mostly the reason why I wanted to get down to the beach was because it’s somewhere I’ve not been in San Diego/California yet, but I also want to get some use of the DSLR. I was also thinking about using the beach as a place to sit and catch up on my reading… Well, comics. See, I have a digital pile of comics that have stacked up for the past year or more than I haven’t read. In my mind I’m trying to work out if there’s a reason why I’ve let it stack up. Have I grown out of comics or have I just legitimately not made time to allow reading of any nature in my life? I kinda want to find out this holiday. Aside from that I’ve a bunch of films/TV shows to catch up on. There are also still a few films out at the cinema that I’d like to get to see (I actually saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story today as a treat to myself).
I also got back on Keto this past Monday.
Readers will be aware that I stopped Keto after I was hospitalised earlier in the year and went home to recover.Keto was something that I had researched plenty into and prepared for to help drop the vast amount of weight I physically carry. I know a lot of people have had success with it, and for the 3 weeks or whatever it was that I was on it had me feeling a lot better about my physical appearance and even in my mental state I felt better.
Now that I have some free time and I’ve got an opportunity to prepare food for myself away from the university’s meal plan I’m getting back on the horse. Hopefully I won’t be hospitalised 3 weeks from now.
But in all seriousness, I’m back in the mindset. Perhaps not as strongly as when I started it earlier this year, but at least strong enough to know what I need to do to enable the diet and keep to it. I now have cooking instruments and food storage containers. I let it slip a little today as I went to the cinema (like I said, it was an absolute treat for all I endured this past month or so for uni). I’m currently resisting the urge to take this cheat day to the next level and order pizza whilst watching Die Hard (because, Christmas!), which is taking all my willpower to convince myself that it will undo any of the progress in the past few days… But then again, I won’t be doing Christmas dinner this year… 🤔
So then the last thing I’ll be doing this break is getting the 2 short films I made edited to a more professional standard. I think both the stories are great and they (for the most part) look great, but they need more TLC in post-production. I’m picking up some new skills in sound and special FX that will hopefully remedy the issues with the shorts. I think if I apply the knowledge well they’ll turn out much more professional looking and would be something I’d be proud to show off to not just friends & family, but also to others at film festivals.
This post has rambled on way too long, and I’m going to have to go back over it to see what could be trimmed down, or wether there is an appropriate GIF or meme that could be inserted to help pace this out. Regardless, I know the holiday season is not the best time for everyone. If you’re one of those out there that struggles, keep on struggling. If you feel like you need to reach out to someone at this time, you can reach out to me or please contact professional support from The Samaritans or similar organisations:
For the most part, however, I want to wish you all a Happy Holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or don’t celebrate this season at all, I hope the New Year finds you in good health – both physically and mentally.
Until 2017 and the beginning of year 6 of this site….
Currently I am a little torn as to how to approach this month’s post. One one hand things are the same old, same old. On the other hand, things are actually going pretty well. I guess emotionally and practically I’ve been all over the place for the past 6 weeks (and beyond). Also, as this post has been long over due I have a lot to talk about, but I’ll try and keep it condensed.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first.
The stress/anxiety/pressure/loneliness of uni life still hasn’t passed. Things are slowly improving, and I’m making moves to make those changes, but it is still something that has persisted. As previously discussed I have been looking into therapywhilst studying here. This has led me down a rabbit hole of making phone calls (which I’ve hated doing ever since the dark days of 2010-2012) and confirming medical insurance coverage. At the time of writing I have a tentative appointment tomorrow afternoon with a therapist, but there is a good chance the insurance isn’t going to cover that. Additionally, this therapist requires an upfront fee upwards of $100.00, which is not something I have readily available and I’m not willing to wait for a reimbursement from the insurance agency.
I have alternative options though. Earlier this month I visited the on campus health… centre?… center?… y’know, I’m just going to stick with British English, so screw it, it’s “centre”.
Anyway, I visited the health centre on campus as I was beginning to run low on my anxiety & depression medication, Sertraline (which I learnt in the USA is called “Zoloft” or something similar). My visit was nothing more than to get a refill, but I kinda figured that they’d need to do some due diligence to ensure that I wasn’t some drug fiend looking for some weird hook up. They ended up running a variety of tests that I guess are typical to American clinics; blood pressure, temperature, questionnaires on health history, and the standard mental health form – you all know the one.
When I finally met with the doctor we discussed my mental health history quite openly and candidly; and honestly, of all the GPs I’ve met and discussed my battle with mental health, he has probably been the best doctor so far. He was understanding, sympathetic (but not the fake or overly serious kind), he listened, and actually gave me some additional information about local therapists if nothing else works out. The funny thing is, with the way the search for therapy has been, I’m likely to try that number next as it might be the right fit.
While we’re still on the medical front, it should be worth mentioning that I had a minor medical scare last week with what I thought could be another perianal abscess. I had noticed a lump “in that region” again and steadily it got more and more painful. The timing of which actually coincided with my going to the doctor, but I was hesitant to bring it up when I just wanted to get my prescription done. Luckily, 2 days later, it turned out to be just a regular abscess as I woke up in the middle of the night covered “down there” in blood and pus. It was lovely.
I was in two minds about visiting the doctor anyway, but have ultimately opted to not go as it’s just embarrassing having to go through the examination and I’m almost 99% certain that I’ve healed with no chance of it reoccurring. If it comes back, yes, Mum, I will go to the doctor.
Segueing off of that, I think I need to mention that things are going well with the family. Even though I am still acutely aware that a lot of my mental health issues likely began with my relationship with my Dad growing up, I’m finding that our relationship has improved. I think I’ve written about this before that I think leaving home has helped that a lot, and that’s great, but I don’t know how I feel about dragging up a bunch of stuff in therapy that I know needs resolving, but that is likely to bring stuff up that could affect our improved relationship.
I should also probably mention how my birthday went, and to a lesser degree, Halloween. Both events were spent with the MeetUp group I found online, which was great. I really enjoyed the company and had a good time, but I think I’ve been overcompensating on my social anxiety having previously struggled with interacting with people over the last few years. My way to overcompensate is to drink… and drink to excess. I’m not saying that I made a fool of myself, but after each event I felt like I had. That’s alcohol mixing with depression.
However (in the good news section of this post), I have been attempting to be more social with my classmates. As I type this I am currently sitting on set of a production for a grad student who is making a short film. I’ve spent more time with other students that I’ve met in class, and I’m not going to say these are friendships forming, but they are social interactions where I am coming out of myself and raising my own self-esteem.
I also have something to look forward to in the coming weeks as Thanksgiving approaches in that a friend of mine whose relationship I had let deteriorate over the years to where we hardly ever saw each other is coming over to spend a break in the city. I’m currently attempting to plan a trip to Monument Valley with him, which will likely mean we’ll have to rent a car. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to a potential road trip with my old friend.
I, of course, still have many fears and anxieties about many things to come over the next few months, from minor things like financial standing to more emotional things like spending the long Christmas/New Year Break alone in a foreign land. I am hoping to get away for a few weeks during this period, but as I say I have my concerns and worries.
However, that’s not to say I am not optimistic about my immediate future. I’m doing a lot of film production work that I can put towards a CV/portfolio, but which is also teaching me a lot and putting me in more social situations to interact with human beings. I’ve got a friend coming to see me, and I have trips over the breaks being planned. Also, although I may be far from home, the internet will still allow me to at least be with my family visually during the holidays.
I’ve continued to adjust this month to my new environment in San Diego, although with some great difficulty. I’m not sure if what I’ve been facing is the onset of a new dip in mood, or if my dip in mood has been brought on by this environment. By all regards; moving, especially to another country, can be one of the most stressful things a person can ever experience. Which is funny, because for the past 2 years I have moved at least 3 times. 4 if you include moving back in with my parents, too.
It also hasn’t been helped by being thrown into the deep end of education that has left me feeling overworked, stressed out, pissed off, and finding little time to entertain myself in my new home. I’ve literally barely left campus in 2 weeks and I’m struggling to find time to entertain myself with TV programmes or films that I would normally enjoy. In fact, I think part of this is a rollover from the summer. You see, I’m having difficulty sitting down to watch complex shows, like Mr. Robot, which I’ve been trying to catch up with since before the new season began in July, and here I am at the end of September (with season 2 having ended last week) and I’m still 3 episodes off from finishing the first season. Now look, I’m not getting distressed over it. I’m not worrying myself stupid because I can’t finish one TV show, but what concerns me is losing enthusiasm for things I enjoy, particularly because it is a symptom of depression!
So mostly now with my downtime (which used to be filled with listening to podcasts and watching YouTube subscriptions, too) I try to find something inoffensive to watch, like a sitcom, or comedy programme. And that’s fine, y’know. I can understand why I’m doing that, it’s a coping strategy that I’m using to lift my mood. I just miss being entertained by the emotionally complex and narrative driven shows I love(d).
Elsewhere, I turn 31 in a few days. It’s my 3rd birthday away from home, and this one is guaranteed to be spent without any surprise visits from family. I guess I’m used to this by now, and I had started to ease up on doing anything special after my 25th birthday, but I suppose I’d still like to be able to spend it with some friends or family, even if it was just a pint down the local or a takeaway from my favourite Chinese place.
My birthday rolling around hasn’t helped my feelings of loneliness or isolation either. These feelings have been here for a long time. I can’t actually pinpoint it, but these feelings have definitely been around since I started university at least. These feelings never really ever went away. The hardest part is not really understanding how to alleviate them. I think I threw myself into working as a way to cope, but now with how frustrated I’m feeling with at least one of the classes I am reassessing that notion.
This means I’m changing things up. I’m trying to make more of an effort to get back to things I used to enjoy. I’ve been catching up on YouTube videos as a first step, and I’m currently burning through Marvel’s Luke Cageon Netflix. This week has been exceptional for work load, but making time for relaxation and entertainment has made everything a little bit better. I’ve organised my work so that I stop working after 6pm having usually started around 9am/10am and worked solidly. Giving myself a few hours off in the evenings helps to unwind, relax, and even sleep better.
I’ve even made arrangements for my birthday! After realising how isolated I was becoming here I decided to look into social activities or groups in the area. On Reddit a few weeks ago, I noticed a thread discussing an App/website called MeetUp that allows users to seek out and find social groups that share similar interests. I thought this was a good place to start with meeting, mingling, and hopefully making friends with people. I ended up joining a group with a nerd inflection that happened to be having a massive social gathering for new members that coincides with my birthday. It was as if fate had stepped in. So naturally I’m going, and hopefully things will go well enough that I’ll have a social group here in California for the remainder of my stay.