Weeks 2 – 3 – 4

Once again I’ve slacked off on updating this blog, and for that I apologise. More to myself than to anyone in particular judging by the amount of views I receive here, but that’s not a problem. I have been for the most part these past weeks incredibly busy. I say these past weeks; this week has been relatively lazy.

To expedite things I’m going to condense this into one post. Week 2 was a relatively empty week. Between a friend’s birthday and my own mother’s I really struggled with motivating myself to do anything. I did however manage to galvanize myself on both these occasions. It was extremely hard, and not really many close to me know just how difficult it was to leave the house for these events. I can honestly say there was no outside interference, it was all me. I made the choice to go do these things, to put on a brave face, and I rather enjoyed it too.

I think by taking these leaps it has helped me to make other choices more easily. Friday the 13th was upon me, and I was quite determined not to let that day be a curse on me. So on that day I finally got the nerve to return to the Citizens Advice Bureau. I went there with a stronger determination than I’ve ever felt about it, and managed to get a lot of my issues in order. To that end I’ve now got an appointment next week to deal with my financial situation.

Friday 13th also got me my first job in nearly a year. A friend of mine helped me out with that. She recommended me to her producer on a television show she’s been working on in Bristol. They were short staffed and needed to get back on track within a week in their Art Department. I’d already spoken to her the week before about looking to get into Film & TV by doing a college course. When she called I nearly said no. To be honest, I wasn’t sure enough of myself to go through with it. I wasn’t sure I’d be reliable enough, let alone if my skills were up to task with the other staff. I am, however, glad I said yes. I loved the idea of getting some experience, and I loved the idea of putting my art skills to use to spite what my art teachers from school had said about me pursuing and artistic future. I didn’t particularly mind the idea of not being paid a lot either, as I’ve said the experience would more than compensate. It was amazing though to hear that I would be getting a short paid gig to work in an art department of a television show!

Whilst I don’t want to particularly go into details, the experience was incredible. Seeing how a show is put together behind the scenes is a mind blowing experience. Forget any bonus features you see on a DVD/Blu-Ray, the work that gets done is fantastic! The personalities that are running around are somewhat concussive at times, but it really is another world. I’ve worked in a lot of environments over the year, and I genuinely thought I had met all the personalities I’d ever meet. It was a kind of welcome relief to meet people who didn’t meet my expectations at all.

The work environment was great, and whilst the tasks I was given were by admission of the Producers and Supervisors around me “monotonous”, I certainly appreciated being given the opportunity to experience this line of work.

Which leads me into week 4. This week has been relatively quiet. I think I wanted a quiet week more so to reflect on last week, and try to come to terms with where my life would be going after this. As I mentioned earlier I had been thinking about enrolling in college for September to begin a Film & TV course. 2 weeks ago I discovered there was an open day at one of my local colleges for this. The open day was the Wednesday just gone.

Wednesday was quite a hectic day for me in terms of appointments to meet. In the morning I was meeting with my Jobs Advisor/Government Pawn at the Jobcentre to begin claiming Jobseekers Allowance again. I mentioned to them I had been thinking of enrolling later in the year, and this was met with contempt. I left feeling rather deflated, as if there was no future for me anywhere. By the time I’d arrived home I was feeling down, but between a quick lunch and heading out for my next appointment I began to feel angry. Not at my situation, but at the people around me; more specifically towards the government. How dare these people tell me that I have no future in being educated? I began to revile them in a way I had never before. I would do as I please, and not at the pleasure of anyone else. It was an epiphany, I wouldn’t care about what anyone else thought of me anymore, it was time to take care of myself and reach my full potential.

After my appointment in the afternoon with CBT I bused it over to the college. By chance my mother had just finished a meeting in the area and had called me to see if I was attending. I had just gotten off the bus. We agreed to meet inside, and to be honest once more, I was glad to be given the time alone with the tutors. The more time I spent with them talking about the course the more I realised how much I wanted to be on that course. I wanted to study for another 2 years. I wanted to be able to walk away with a qualification, and I wanted the chance to be able to go to university and make a career out of something I enjoy.

After that meeting I applied for the course. It’s by no means a sure thing. I’ve still got to get past the interview stage, and then in August I need to sign up to it on a first come first served basis. There are only 15 places in the class. If I don’t get on it, I could get on the reserved list. I don’t want to be a reserve. I want that course, and I’m going to make damn sure nothing gets in my way between here and August, and the 2 years after that.

Week 1

I’m a little bit later than I’d have like to have been to update this blog. Truth be told I think I’ve certainly been experiencing the post-Christmas/New Years Blues. The last week has been very anti-climatic. With all my best intentions in mind to start the New Year with a new me in mind, so far I feel I’ve let myself down. In part I think it’s more to do with the medication I’ve been taking. I’m currently on 70mg of Mirtazapine, which is the highest dose for this medication. This has been steadily increased since I began on these in June/July. They’re not the first anti-depressants I’ve taken, I’ve trialed at least two others since my initial diagnosis 7 years ago. They are the first to affect my sleep pattern, however. Side effects are very common with anti-depressants, this is well known. I’ve experienced extremely vivid dreams, loss of appetite/increased appetite, even a feeling of emotional numbness over the years.

With Mirtazapine that’s not really what has happened. I’ve certainly experienced an increase/decrease in appetite, which varies from day to day. What I commonly encounter, however, is an increase in sleep. Over sleeping is not new to me, especially when I’ve been feeling incredibly low, but what I’ve experienced has been sleep cycles in excess of 12 hours. I always believed that the limit to my sleeping ability was the 12 hour mark. Regardless of how I would be feeling I’d wake after 12 hours. On Mirtazapine it’s been almost disastrous. What I feel on Mirtazapine is an almost paralyzing effect. I can’t wake up. No alarm clock is loud enough to keep me awake, even shaking me to wake me is like trying to wake the dead. It doesn’t matter what’s on my agenda for the morning or if I’ve had 8-10 hours, I wake up like I’ve been given a sedative. What I can relate it to most is like wake up after having anesthetic for surgery. You fumble around, but can’t quite find the energy or the control in your body, to get yourself upright. It’s an unsettling feeling to have every morning. Some days are better than others mind you; I can sometimes fight through the fog in my brain to get up. Early starts though have been nearly impossible. I’ve struggled to meet morning appointments; I’ve even struggled to meet people for lunch.

What I’m trying to emphasize here is that it has become almost impossible to plan a day. Phone calls that I need to make in the morning are never made. I’ve stopped making any appointments before 1pm because there’s a high risk I won’t make it.

I want to stress, however, that I feel Mirtazapine has had a positive effect on my mood. It’s taken awhile to settle in, but now I feel when I need to do something I don’t feel so negative. This is also in part due to the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy I’ve done. The two combined have done a lot for me in terms of starting to get back to some type of normality. I’ll address CBT in another posting somewhere down the line, but for now I want to focus on this.

Having trouble getting up at 7am or 8am has affected how I’m dealing with some aspects of my depression. As I’ve pointed out it makes it difficult meeting early appointments. One aspect of my depression is how I’ve been dealing with my debt problems. Having been unemployed for the better part of 12 months has really taken its toll on my debts as well as me psychologically. I’ve avoided the confrontations because I haven’t been able to pay, I’ve struggled to come to solutions because I felt so weighed down by it all and so I dug my head in the sand. I don’t think it was in a belief that it’ll all go away, it was essentially a complete breakdown of my self confidence, and ultimately my decision making skills. I could no longer think logically about it. With no income and constant harassment I withdrew into myself, and into my bed.

Now I’m on the road to recovery I’m trying to deal with this all again. I’d previously visited the Citizens Advice Bureau in September last year. While initially I was quite hopeful that they’d help, and after filing several documents for them for several weeks, they wrote to me to say they were closing my file. I tried to contact them via email and phone to no success. Again, I gave up. “If they won’t help me, who will?”, I thought. This was the first time in months that I had tried to address my real world problems, and I fell at the first hurdle. With the New Year I knew I would need deal with this again, and it needed to be my priority. Through all of last week I built myself up to going to the C.A.B. I’d have to get up early to get to their offices by 9am.

For those unfamiliar to the way the Citizens Advice Bureau operates (in this city at least), they open at 9.30am, with the ability to only see 25 people daily. Considering that the C.A.B is a charitable organization it is entirely understandable that there is a limit to those they can see. With my crippling sleep pattern this has been a problem. Last week I failed entirely to make it in time. My most successful failure was waking up, wide awake at 9am. It was a valiant effort, but too late. Last night I resolved to attempt it today.

In a move I do not endorse for others on medication, I skipped my meds last night in the hope I wouldn’t feel too sedated in the morning and finally be able to get up on time. To be quite frank, it worked. I was up at 8.20am, ready, dressed, eaten breakfast by 8.35am, and on the bus by 8.45am to arrive at the C.A.B. by 9.05am. Unfortunately, many others had grown wise to the game, and had arrived earlier than me. To cut the story short I was the 27th person in line. I was gutted. I felt like the whole world was against me again. It didn’t help matters that as I took the long walk back to the bus stop that I just missed a bus either.

So now I’m still stuck in this limbo. Part of me feels like today was a wasted opportunity. If only I’d been there earlier, but then I’d always planned to be there for 9am. So now I’m wondering what it is going to take. Getting there earlier is the only option, but I hope from reading this entry how much of a challenge this is going to be. I don’t know if I’d be able to get myself motivated again to go for a third time. This said, I think I do need to persevere. If I don’t accomplish this goal I’m only going to wind up with more problems. Overall I feel quite resentful that I’m in this situation. Mostly I’m resentful towards myself, but there’s a distinct part of me that feels it’s the world’s fault which I know isn’t responsible of me. I am the one who got myself into this, and I’m the one who needs to get myself out of it.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?

The problem I find with having depression is being able to concentrate. By that I mean everything I do becomes instantly a huge effort. When I’m at my lowest I can’t even get out of bed sometimes. So when it comes to regularly maintaining something like a blog, or just doing something productive with my time, I really struggle. It’s been around 6 weeks since my last posting here and it’s certainly been a rollercoaster of a journey. I’ve been back in some really low places, but surprisingly Christmas wasn’t one of those.

For me, ever since I can remember, Christmas has always been that stressful time of year. My Dad would be a grinch, my Mum would be stressing over the stove trying to get dinner ready, and my brother would be a brat. Christmas to me has always been a disappointment, and every year I seem to prepare myself for the oncoming stresses and dissatisfaction that I’ve come to associate. This year was different. My Mum for the first time in years didn’t cook Christmas dinner for everyone; instead her parents (my Grandparents) had us over. My Dad seemed remarkably chipper, considering this year was the first year he celebrated without either of his parents (My Grandmother passing away in June of 2011), and he in himself was a pleasure to be around. Even my brother seemed more humble this year. In the days leading up to Christmas we spent a lot of time together as a family. We went shopping, we went out for meals. We were even all sitting together in the living room enjoying each others company. It was like a parallel universe! It was amazing though. Even the week after this attitude continued. It was like this dysfunctional unit had finally found a way to reconcile each of their differences. For lack of a better term, it was a “Christmas Miracle”! I for one can’t believe that for a second. The cynical nature of my depression says that miracles don’t happen. And this is right. Miracles don’t. I’m not a religious man at all, so I have to believe that what has happened has been something brewing within the family unit for a very long time. Finally we understand each other.

For the year ahead I hope this new dynamic with cement itself in our lives. I’m also hoping that this year will be the year everything changes. I don’t mean “I hope” like “I hope someone’s going to come along and make everything better” I mean it like “I hope that I can set myself these goals to achieve so I can be where I want to be, and to be doing what I want to be doing”. I think 2011 was the hardest year I’ve had, and I’ve lived through it. 2012 has to be better than last year. I have to make this year the best, the most positive year that I can. I want to be able to look back at this year and say with a smile that this was the year that I turned everything around. With that I hope you’ll follow me as I track my year through this blog. I’ll be striving from now to update the blog once a week. Some times it may be short, some times it may be a humongous essay. Regardless I hope this will give everyone (mostly myself) an opportunity to see how my life is affected by the changes I’m trying to implement, and an opportunity to see for myself what’s working in my life and what isn’t.