Week 15

I’m going to do a semi-recap this week after the over blown rant that was week 14. Not that overblown rants are wrong, they just tend to sit quite heavily.

 

This week has been rather hectic for me. Active for Health began, there was a catch up with Spectrum/Rethink, and then there was physiotherapy and Mindfulness. The main one worth noting is Mindfulness. I wrote a fortnight back that I’d delve into it more after having attended and… well… now I am.

 

Mindfulness is… interesting. The sessions are divided into two. The first half is essentially the mindfulness techniques, which are essentially relaxation techniques, which teach you to think more in the moment and appreciate your senses and surroundings. The second half is more CBT focused. This tends to focus on ground that I’ve previously tread with CBT, whereby it looks to have you focus on the real world goals; what really makes you tick, and what exactly triggers low moods and how you can overcome them yourself. Essentially it’s about looking at what you can control, and overcoming your own fears.

 

The sessions themselves have been great for being in a group that is going through similar issues. I feel a various points that I’m still inarticulate to describe what it is I actually experience, but with others having similar issues I find they’ve helped me to understand exactly what I’ve experienced. In some cases its visa versa. Whilst Mindfulness isn’t exactly group councelling, it is very close. I’ve noticed a few people have already trailed away from it, but for the time being I think it’s worthwhile to continue exploring this route. Another part of Mindfulness explores some form of meditation. I’ve always been interested in meditation, but I’ve always lacked the willpower and knowledge to further delve into it. I’ve found myself using it several times after last week’s session in an attempt to relax and appreciate the moment more during daytime hours. Unfortunately my mother and grandmother got seriously ill within a few hours of this session and so I’ve struggled to find time to “meditate”. Instead I’m finding myself becoming more aware of the responsibilities around my family, which I had probably lost sight of some point last year as I slumped into depression. Whilst my family being ill isn’t necessarily a blessing, it’s certainly helped me to step up my game, and actually be more productive with my days. The downside is (as I write this post) I seem to be coming down with the cold my grandmother (and now my Grandpa) has. I know, I know – boo hoo. The bitch of it all is I can’t really afford to be ill this week. With another Mindfulness session tomorrow, as well as signing on, I don’t particularly want to be ill and miss these. I’ve also got a surprise birthday party that I’m running interference on. This week is most definitely not the week I would have chosen to come down with anything.

 

Regardless I’ve hopefully caught it early enough with cold & flu tablets to starve it off for a few days, if not altogether completely.

 

CBT also taught me late last year that to go through life without planning for anything in the future will lead to low mood. If you don’t have something to look forward to you will just simply buckle. The next few weeks should help increase my good mood (if it has at all been low these last weeks) with the gym now in full swing, as well as possibly starting a short course over the summer, and of course a few good films I’ve been waiting a while to see. For those who aren’t aware of my other blog (http://th3watchman.wordpress.com/) I am a huge film fan, and comic book nerd. Next week sees the release of The Avengers in cinemas, and over the next few months a reboot for Spider-Man, the sequel to The Dark Knight, and a semi-prequel-Alien-film, Prometheus. It sounds silly to be excited for these films, but I think looking forward to trivial things like this keep me going. I mean, when reality is fairly bleak how else do you escape? So yes, I feel stupidly childish for being excited for these films, but this is what keeps me going. I’ve just said that twice haven’t I?

 

I’ve also agreed to go with my family to visit extended members of my family in Northern Ireland in a few months (I can’t recall off the top of my head if I had previous mentioned this…) which I had some reservations about going, but I haven’t seen a lot of them in close to 12 years. So I’m a little nervous (I generally think I’ve either got nothing in common with them anymore, or that I’ll come off as a complete tool), but overall I think I feel my confidence improving so it should be a good little holiday from all this here.

 

So that’s been my week. Thanks for reading.

Week 14

So I was going to begin this post as normal with a general overview, but another blog (http://evatenter.wordpress.com/) had shared this video:

 

 

I thought the video was quite significant to myself (and I’m sure to many others) in showing that not only you can be successful and suffer from mental health problems, but that you can be successful regardless of having a mental health problem. This is something I’ve felt I’ve struggled with. I’ve often felt that because I suffer from depression & anxiety that I’ll never get anywhere in life. I’ve often felt that my life will become a monotonous routine of falling in and out of lackluster occupations. I’ve always felt that my life of the last 10 years has epitomised this. I’ve rarely been in a job longer than a few years. I’ve struggled to see things through to the end, be it college or various other courses. I think I resigned myself to the belief that I’ll never get anywhere. This in itself is actually a symptom of my own depression. Because I believe this, it must be true. It’s almost as if I’ve become fearful of taking big leaps in my life. Granted I have taken chances in my life. Travelling after quitting sixth form is one good example of taking a leap. Even becoming involved in serious relationships is a huge thing for me. I think getting into a relationship is quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done it twice now. What is it though that makes these things difficult? Fear. With relationships, be it familiar friendships or genuinely physical relationship, there have always been this deepseated notion that I’ll be rejected. This could be to do with being rejected by potential love interests in my past. This could be to do with my uncle’s death 10 years ago (that everyone I love will leave me and die). I think it truly goes back to my formative years as a child.

 

In psychology they say that that there is this battle between nature and nurture. Naturally we cling to the grown ups around us, who then nurture us into becoming the adults we are today. If I remember correctly it was Freud who said something along the lines of, “Becoming fixated on ones own genitalia at a young age will generally result in an abnormality in the psyche later in life.” The example I remember of this is something to do with a mother being overly strict on bathroom routines with her child will in some likelihood result in an obsessive compulsive need for over-cleanliness of the genitalia/rectum after voiding. (please don’t take these as complete facts, I’m attempting to recall from books I read approximately 8-10 years ago!).

 

What I am trying to get at here is that your early years, from the time you are born, until you become a teenager are important in forming your own psyche. It becomes so natural to approach certain situations because it truly has become a natural reaction. You have become conditioned to it.

 

Example: Whilst my mother has always been loving towards me, I always felt neglected by my father. I think to a greater extent he had psychologically abused me as I grew up. It manifested physically when I was a teenager, either I was going to sit there and accept the abuse, or fight against it. We would clash all the time as I became older, and sometimes we became very violent towards each other. It wasn’t until I attempted suicide at 22 that things changed. I think he realised that he had been partly responsible in how he had treated me. That’s not to say he is the fault of my suicide attempt, nor of my decline in mental health, but that he is at least in some way responsible for being the person who I am today. This also doesn’t mean that our relationship is the picture of health now, but it is certainly better than it has ever been. After my first attempt he understood me, because he had experienced the same things too. He has battled depression through most of his life, and this is because in part his father was a bully to him too. My father, as open minded as he is, still believes that depression isn’t and shouldn’t be hereditary. It is something that is all in the mind that you should be able to overcome simply by willpower. My father, for all the intelligence he has, is stupidly simple minded in this.

 

Overcoming depression is in part to do with mind over matter, but it is also a physical disease. There is an imbalance in brain chemistry. While those suffering from slight/minor depression can overcome it by dealing with their problems in counseling or overcoming their grief in a battle of wills, those higher up in severity are battling with a chemical problem. While there are psychological issues to face, medication is sometimes required. If the medication is making you numb to emotions it’s not the right medication. Just being on medication isn’t enough. After my initial diagnosis I was only prescribed medication. I refused counseling because I felt it did very little in helping me address my issues after my uncle died, and so there was no alternative support offered. It wasn’t until my second suicide attempt last year that I was offered more support. It really shouldn’t have taken to suicide attempts for the right support to come along, but this is the state of the current NHS inBritain. That’s not to knock the staff; since being referred to CBT (etc) I’ve received some of the best care I have ever experienced. I think I just feel that there is still a stigma over mental health: that it should just be swept under the carpet and because you can’t see it those suffering will just continue to suffer in silence.

 

So to save this from delving completely into ramble, this is all FEAR related. Depression is fear.

 

You’re afraid to be judged. You’re afraid others will hate you. You’re afraid that you’ll fail. There’s so much to be afraid of with depression, and it’s all tailored to you. What I feel afraid of is probably different to what you feel. Depression isn’t the same for everyone.

 

So how can you over come it? I have already commented that depression isn’t easy to conquer.  It takes a combination of things to help resolve some of the issues. The most common is medication and counseling, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes it takes some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Sometimes it’s group work. Sometimes it is just sheer willpower. What doesn’t work is doing nothing about it. Being proactive is half the battle. If you can get up and take yourself to your Doctor to get the help what you are doing is fighting back.  If you can make yourself attend whatever therapies you get referred to you are taking back control of your life. You’re fighting back against the fear depression paralyses you with. What’s difficult is coming to terms with what it is exactly you are afraid of, and confronting that fear.

 

I think that if I can confront my fears of being abandoned/rejected, I think I’ll be able to go to all the places I’ve ever wanted with my life. I don’t want to be stuck living with my family for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be working a mindless, dead end job. I want the life I deserve, not the life depression is trying to dictate to me.

 

I don’t think depression will ever leave me, but I hope that I can push it aside when I need to, to be able to achieve what I want in life.

 

So what are my goals? I want to work in a job that challenges me, that will make use of my creative skills. I want to be independent, and not need to rely on my family or friends to support me every time something goes wrong. I want to be able to look after myself better, to have control over my mind and my body. I want to have the confidence again to do all these things that I used to be able to do until depression ripped it away from me last year. Finally, I don’t want to be afraid of being rejected or abandoned. This is the most important one. I think this fear that has sat within me throughout my life is what needs to be over come to achieve these goals. I need to learn that it’s ok to be rejected, that it’s ok to be alone. Life is rejection and loneliness, but life can also be acceptance and recognition: its ok for these things to happen.

Week 13

I just found myself scoffing at the revelation that this past week was week 13 (unlucky for some), however I’ve always made a point of rising above this superstition. Lottery ticket – always play a number 13 on the line. Friday 13th – Do something that contradicts the superstition (as with the work experience interview back in January). I had no idea this previous week was week 13, I could probably have deduced this after posting last week’s blog. I am not, however, a superstitious man and I’ll fight against superstitions where ever I may find them. In retrospect if I was a superstitious man, this last week’s problems would have been blamed on it being week 13 of the New Year.

 

I am, though, a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own actions. Whilst this past week has been another relatively average week, I met up with my cousin from the north for a catch up. Being this the first opportunity to take him out in my town, we met up with some of my friends to have an alcohol fueled night. The night went fairly well, we laughed and joked. It was overall great. Then he threw up and got ejected from the pub we’d settled into for the night. Luckily I knew the bouncers and convinced them to let him back in, promising I’d make sure he wouldn’t do anything stupid again. If that was it for the night I’d say we had a good night out. However alcohol took hold. We both ended up having a very deep conversation for a few hours about family and whatnot, which I’d prefer not to go into details here, but which left a very sour taste in my mouth. There were things we spoke about in detail we shouldn’t speak about. Among them I told him about the state of my mental health. It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind whenever speaking to family as to whether they know what I’ve been dealing with these last few years, and so it’s always something that comes to the forefront when I’ve drunk too much. I’m hoping that considering the amount we drank that at least he’ll have forgotten details of the night and remember it as a good night out with his cousin. I on the other hand wish I couldn’t remember what we discussed because of how it makes me feel now. I feel that by speaking about the things we spoke about it made me weaker in his eyes. I feel like I made him uncomfortable that night by discussing the topics we covered. I also feel like I have no self control with alcohol. So in retrospect maybe that night was a good thing in making me realise how difficult it is for me to maintain control under the influence, as well as the psychological repercussions days after.

 

I mentioned last week that after a conversation with my GP that I was contemplating giving up the sauce for good. To me this reaffirmed it. I’ve drank once since, which was on Sunday. I went back to the bar in town for a night of wrestling with a friend. The pub had laid on a pub quiz to fill out the night, which we took part in and eventually won. He talked me into a celebratory beer, to which I agreed, and that’s all she wrote. We had a good night and I remained sober. I may not have appreciated the neurological effects the next day, but I felt it was a small victory. My next social engagement is Friday and I’m hoping I can remain sober throughout that.

 

You already know that I want to stop because of the psychological effects, but it’s also to do with my own weight issue. I’ve been overweight most of my life. The only time where I ever seemed to drop some weight was 5 years ago where I stopped drinking for 3 months. At the time I was on a few types of medication which would have been affected my intake of any alcohol. The photos I have from then are some of the best pictures of me (in my own opinion). Weight has been a source of my depression in the past, so much so I don’t think anyone really knows that it has been. One of my goals this year is to fight the flab. To that means I’ve signed up for Active for Health (which begins next week), and trying to focus on making better choices on what I eat. The latter part hasn’t fared so well. Factoring in giving up the booze will hopefully increase any chance of losing some weight. So… fingers crossed, eh?

 

There’s not much more to really say. I’m going to try and pull the write up of this blog back to a Monday, so expect another update hopefully by then next week. With Mindfulness beginning tomorrow I should hopefully have something to say about that in the next update. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.