Week 30

So this week I wanted to talk a little bit about substance abuse, and by substance I mean alcohol. And by abuse, I mean my self inflicting abuse… of alcohol… on me…

Yes, we are 30 weeks into this grand experiment and I have yet to master the use of alcohol. Being a 20 something one would imagine that I would have conquered this incredible feat, yet victory does still elude me.

I think every week this year I have vowed to give up booze, and every week I have failed. Whilst my alcohol consumption has dropped from what it was 18 months ago (mostly due to financial woes), my intake is still far from idyllic. We all know the maxim, “Alcohol and depression don’t mix.” It’s not made up. Some idiot didn’t just make it up as more penance for sufferers of depression, no. Depression is heightened by alcohol. Sure, the effects at first are pretty fun, but you pay for it days later. I’ve had hangovers so incredibly invasive I’ve planned to kill myself because of them, because they persuade me I don’t deserve to live any more, I shouldn’t live anymore, and ultimately I just wanted the little niggling voices to stop. So every time I drink I spend the next 2 – 4 days talking to myself (seriously, if you were a fly on a wall you’d catch little snippets of conversation – crazy right?), trying to talk myself down (or is that up?) from the depression.

So why do I do it? There’s a quote circling the internet these days from Albert Einstein, which says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” So am I expecting a different outcome each time I drink? I don’t think so. On the last 3 occasions I got drunk, I got drunk because I was feeling alone, depressed, and isolated. I wanted to escape. Which I think is crazy. Which is ridiculous. But it isn’t… Hmmm

With depression you tend to lose a lot of who you are/were. I remember an IAPT psychiatrist/counselor/person saying during the Mindfulness course this year that the great thing about depression is, that unlike most regular people, we have the ability to rebuild ourselves in whatever way we want/need. I’ve moaned a lot about having lost a lot of confidence and self esteem over the last 18 months. I’ve felt that my social life has changed as a result, so now when I go out and socialise and drink I feel there are different results. I think I’ve always suffered from having a “down day” after a heavy night, but now when I recall nights I don’t recall them with much fondness. In fact, I recall a person who I don’t like. I think he’s rude, a little obnoxious, and very selfish. I think that these are facets of my personality manifesting in a way that isn’t so nuanced.

So I want to change that. I want to control that. So how do I control that? I have to quit drinking. I retake control. But somehow I still can’t take my own advice. This is what’s ridiculous about all of this. Even with college just around the corner now, I’m still drinking myself into oblivion at least once a week. I was supposed to be in shape by now, ready to tackle whatever was going to throw itself at me academically. With 4 weeks to go, I’m still far from prepared. I think this month I need to really throw the gauntlet down on myself, if I don’t quit this month I don’t do college. I just can’t justify it. If I’m still a raging drunk at college there will be no point being at college. I know my brain function diminishes everytime I go out. I know my productivity drops every time I go out. I destroy a little part of what I’ve been working towards all year every time I go out. So this needs to stop. I need to stop dicking around and grow the fuck up. I’m not a teenager or someone in their early twenties. This is why my life is so arrested in so many ways. I need to prove to myself that I can grow up, that I can make something of myself. All this going out and getting shitfaced is doing is embarrassing me, and ultimately my own family and friends. So I must stop drinking!


GIFSoup

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Week 29

So I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to think how I was going to approach this addition to the blog. I’ve not had the best week, in fact I’ve slipped pretty much back to how I was a few weeks ago, which I put down to several incidents last week coupled with my generally low mood. What I wanted to really do this week was address what happened in Aurora, Colorado this week.

If you’ve kept up with this blog you’d know that I’m British, and I’m a bit of a geek. I love science fiction, I love some fantasy stuff too, and I also enjoy my comic books. I wrote several weeks ago that I was trying to motivate myself by having things to look forward to being released at the cinema, things like The Avengers, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m not trying to say that the events that occurred in Aurora, Colorado triggered some deep depression in me, but it has certainly made me more reflective about my situation. Late last night the names and ages of those that were killed were released, and the majority of whom were around my age. These were kids, like me, who had been looking forward to this film and had gone to the cinema to escape from the reality of their world for a few hours.

Part of what makes me depressed is the news, which is ironic because I think the news is an important part of life. You need to be informed about the world to make informed decisions about who you vote for in you country’s elections. I believe it is your civic duty to be informed and to participate in elections, but this is not the point. The point is these people who were killed trying to escape from the reality of the world, the sheer craziness of the world around us, suddenly came crashing through the doors guns blazing. I’m sure some of those who were there are now thinking that no where is safe. The cinema is supposed to be one of those places where crime just doesn’t happen. The illusion has been shattered for them, and I think for me too.

This isn’t to say that I’m scared to leave my home out of fear that someone could do that to me too, far from it. I made it my own mission to still go to the cinema on Saturday to see The Dark Knight Rises. Whilst watching it I thought about those that had died in that theatre. They didn’t get to see the film. They’ll never get to see the film. So then I start thinking about my little black dog. I start thinking about how this week I’ve felt so low that I’ve wished that I could die, that someone would come put me out of my misery. I think about how those people didn’t ask for that, and I think about all those things they’ll never get to do. So I guess this is to say that maybe this was a kick in the arse that I needed, that life is so terribly short. That unjust things happen all the time in an unjust world, which is why it’s important for the rest of us to try to make the world as just as possible. If everyone who felt injustice outweighed justice lay down and died the world would be a worse place, so why should I just give up and die? What gives me the right to do that?

We all have that civic duty to try to make the world a better place, to not step over each other for money or power. We all have the right to exist, and we should never forget that. We should never forget that the people who make us feel like we shouldn’t exist are wrong, and those that take steps to make us no longer exist are socially repugnant.

So what am I trying to say? I’m trying to say that the next time I feel like giving up, or the next time I start looking for an escape route, I’m going to try to remember that I have a right to exist. I’m going to try to remember that we only ever get one life to live and we should try to appreciate the good things in the world, because there are good things in this world. Sometimes you need to take a break away from the world, but you don’t need to leave this world.

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So I wanted to end this entry with another picture. Someone on my Twitter stream posted this, and I think it perfectly captures a lot of sentiment in the world at the moment about what happened in Colorado, and what should really happen from here in terms of gun legislation and regulation. I think it also captures a lot of my mood as well. I’ve always felt that if I had lived in a country where gun control wasn’t as restrictive as it is in The U.K that I would have definitely attempted to kill myself with a gun. So this image sums up how I feel about guns somewhat, and about fighting for my own survival in a world that feels fairly unjust at times. Thanks for reading.

Week 28

So this week has been slightly more eventful, I think it’s probably best that I start from the beginning.

Monday

I may or may not have previously mentioned that I play for an 8 ball English pool team who are currently sitting in division 7 in our pool league. This week we played a Premiership team that won their division last season in the city’s Cup tournament. We fully expected to get our arses handed to us, and in some ways we were right (we lost 1-7), but overall we all played extremely well. We played above our league placement and matched them at skill. Although I lost in my game as well (a point I’d usually use to beat myself up more about) I felt I had played some of the best pool in my life and we should look at our performance that night as inspiration to climb the league table this season.

This started the week off with a positive note, and finding something positive in something negative is not something I am very accustomed to.

Tuesday

Last week I wrote about how I’m feeling quite anxious about my sleeping pattern continuing to be affected 12 months after being prescribed my current medication. This past Tuesday was my monthly GP (General Practitioner/Doctor) check up. I mentioned this time my concerns about it, whilst also noting that my mood/behaviours these last 4 weeks have been more of a low mood.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, my current GP is a Godsend. My local surgery is generally used as a training ground for Student Doctors and as such I’d usually get lumped with someone who is unsure of what type of care they’re expected to give. My current GP is a middle aged seasoned veteran. Whilst I may disagree with her on occasion, I generally find her to be more clued into the medical world than most of the GPs I’ve had the misfortune of crossing paths over the last 5 years or more. So when she says she things it’s probably for the best to remain on the meds before considering coming off them I’m more inclined to agree, but I argued the point anyway. My sleep and regular life is still deeply disturbed by the medication. So the compromise is to reduce the medication from 45mg nightly to 45mg on alternative nights with opposing nights 30mg. I’m already noticing some effects. I feel like my anxiety levels have increased; and before you say “We’ll that’s because you’re worrying about coming off you meds!” it’s not. I can cope with that, and I wanted that. I had no prior anxieties going into it. The other effect I’ve noticed is on nights where I’ve had the 45mg dose my sleep has increased. Five days in all these could be written off as circumstantial, and I agree with that, so I think the next few weeks will be interesting to see if there is any correlation between dosage and my sleeping pattern.

Tuesday also saw the end to Active for Health, but also the restarting of it as well. At the final weigh in I was told I could be re-referred if I still met the criteria – which after only 3 months I most certainly definitely did.

So the final results after 3 months was:

  • I have grown from 187cm to 188cm
  • Dropped from 155kg to 153kg
  • BMI 44.32 – 43.29
  • Resting heart rate 104BPM – 76BPM
  • Waist 146.5cm – 143cm
  • Body Fat 43.3% – 42.4%

Small changes, but certainly noticeable. There was a lung reading as well, but that was compromised by a cold I had on the day otherwise that would have shown a big increase (along with my heart rate – y’know, because of my quitting smoking about half way into the course n’all). So I’m quite grateful for a re-referral. Getting some exercise has been quite beneficial I feel. It has given me some purpose day to day, as well as a goal to achieve. If I start taking this a bit more seriously I might see some more severe changes in my appearance that I’m desperately craving.

Wednesday

So Wednesday was the first time in a while I had seen a lot of my old close friends together all at once probably since Christmas. It was also the first time I really realised how much we had all really grown apart. Not just that we’ve had our own lives to live, but that the way we all think, and the way most of us behave are a lot different from each other. Some would argue that it’s diversity in a group and you see that in a lot of circles, but not with this one. It very much feels like most of these people are people who I wouldn’t really want to know today, and I’m really trying to understand how I became friends with a lot of them almost 10 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I tried really hard to get to know (some of) them again, but I left feeling quite estranged from them. Even arguably my closest friend in the group now, Kate, is different. She’s currently going through a break up with her fella, which could explain the change in attitude and the craving for familiarity, but I felt a lot of alienation from her and others longer than the last few months. I’m not sure if it’s all just coinciding with changes that I’m going through internally, or if there’s a bigger picture I’m missing. To be continued on Saturday…

Thursday

This was a bit of a wasted day, due to the hangover from the night before. Kate took me out after everyone else had gone home as we were the only 2 without work the next day. While she was fine, I suffered. I’m too old for this shit.

Friday (the 13th)

A day filled with small errands and finally getting to the gym! Unfortunately I’d worked out my money incorrectly and didn’t have enough money to go to the gym and get the bus back (I think I dropped 50p some where). Luckily for me their system hadn’t updated correctly that there was an extension on my account so as to allow me to continue using the gym whilst the re-referral goes through. After some to-ing and fro-ing between admin and the front desk, the front desk just waived me through all without taking any of my money. Free gym session and a bus ride home! Win! On paper this really shouldn’t have worked out in my favour, but I’ll take a check in the win box any day.

Saturday

So this brings us to Saturday. It’s only like Wednesday, except for everyone getting a little drunk, except for my friend Andy (who doesn’t drink), and goes a little bit too serious. Andy is someone who I don’t have an awful lot in common with anymore. He got together with his girlfriend/fiancée around about the time I met both of them. Since then they’ve gone on to move in together, buy a house on a mortgage, and at weekends he works on his hobby – building cars – which coincidentally (or not) is also his full time job. His view on life is very narrow-minded. He’s a person who likes things to be very simplified. “You work hard, you get a job, you get a wife, you get a house, you have kids.” That is how Andy lives. That in itself is oversimplified for how he lives, but you get the jist. He doesn’t understand the nature of the world, nor does he especially care to. If there’s something he can’t understand or refuses to understand he’ll make a joke out of it. Which is fine. It works for him, and it doesn’t normally bother anyone else. Last night he made a comment towards me whilst another friend of ours was looking through Twitter for something I had posted for everyone to watch. He’d been building up to this for awhile, and he usually likes to make a comment out of how much I post on Facebook (which is a relatively small amount, compared to other friends of ours), but I’d normally let it slide. This time he decided to take a crack at me for how much I post on Twitter and, “How do you look for a job when you post so much online?!”

Granted, he has no idea of what my life has been like for the past 18 months, and granted as his friend perhaps I should have told him. And I kind of did, and I kind of snapped. As my friend maybe he should have asked me about it before deciding to give me a dig for being unemployed during a time of austerity. So with hindsight I really don’t regret how I responded to that. I think he needed to know that you don’t say that sort of thing to someone who hasn’t worked full time in nearly 2 years unless you’ve got something to back that kind of comment up with. True, those who have followed this blog know that for the last few months I haven’t really been looking for work because I don’t want to jeopardise my placement at college. I have no money. I have no means of being able to afford an education unless I get a free ride through. Part time work would barely meet the money I’m surviving on at the moment with Job Seekers Allowance. When I start college I won’t have JSA to fall back on as that will be taken away as well. I will have to look for part time work when I start the course, but I can’t do that whilst claiming JSA because I’m supposed to be “Available and actively looking for full time work”.

So when you hear someone say “You haven’t been trying hard enough to look for a job.” Someone who’s supposed to be a friend, you get quite defensive. So I told him to “Fuck off” in the strongest of terms, and that then made the next half hour in that room one of the most tensest environments on the planet. Later he tried to apologise without really apologising, and I kind of brushed off that we were cool, but in my mind I think we’re the furthest from it. Which is where we tie back to Wednesday and I say I don’t know who these people are, and I don’t particularly understand why I’m still friends with them. I’ve been drifting away from Andy for the longest of times, and every time we meet I feel as if we’re becoming further and further apart. I think maybe Saturday was the elastic giving out on the friendship and saying “You guys are done.” And I really believe that. I think there is no real friendship there anymore; it’s more about being courteous like you would with an estranged member of your family. You’ll say “hi” and exchange pleasantries, maybe ask how work is going, but that’s all there is. To be fair, really thinking about it, maybe that’s all it has really been the last few years. So that really makes me wonder where a lot of my friendships are going. I feel further away from people I’ve known the longest, yet closer to people I’ve know the shortest amount of time. I really hope that I’m not looking back in 5 years and wondering whatever happened to Kate, or Mike, Michael, or Sarah, but the way life is going I’d be really surprised to be friends with anyone in 5 years.

So rather than leave on a rather depressing down note, I’d thought I’d try and mix things up a bit this week and start posting pictures of something each week that makes me laugh, but also has an important life message. This isn’t one I found this week, but I found it a few weeks ago and I think is particularly relevant in this day and age where social media is so prevalent. Enjoy.

 

Week 27

This week seems to have flown by! Not a lot to report back on. My mood has generally been a lot more stable this week. I’ve also managed to keep myself relatively busier this week with going to the gym, the final session at Mindfulness, and going to London for a day. My sleep continues to be an issue. Oversleeping is still a regular occurrence, but I also had a bout of insomnia the night before going to London. I think this was more to do with issues I generally have with  a) public transport and b)London. It seems to have been a one off event, but it has had a knock on effect. I was out cold until the late afternoon yesterday, which has shifted my sleep pattern to a later time (I am currently writing this at 2.40a.m!), and is so now making things slightly more difficult.

In other news…

I’ve been trying to use Mindfulness techniques more regularly this week to deal with negative thoughts. The negative/suicidal thoughts are the biggest internal issue, and mindfulness seems to be helping to keep them at bay. What I have been doing is challenging my thoughts more, for example; if I think someone has a negative opinion of me I ask myself why that is. How do I know they have a negative opinion of me? Other examples are of thoughts that say, “You’re shit!” “You don’t deserve to be alive!” which are being tackled by either challenging why I think that is, or just letting them slip by. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s really not. That was probably the most simplistic way I could say what I was doing internally, but it is hard work. I’ve got 6 weeks before a catch up session with Mindfulness is due, so the idea is to take what I’ve learnt in the 12 sessions and put them into practice. What I will need to do is read through the notes that I’ve picked up since starting it just to help refresh myself on it.

Looking ahead for the next few months I’ve got a lot on. With college enrolment 6 weeks away I need to be getting in touch with student finances to see what I am entitled to. My family has also put our home up for sale, so there will be a big move within the next few months. I have no idea how well that is going to go. I would really prefer to be able to move out by myself (I think I’d take a bedsit at this rate), but the costs are astronomical. I’m also unsure of how well I’d cope living alone, but I also don’t have any options to move in with friends so moving with the family is the only choice. Maybe with student services I could enquire as to whether I am entitled to any support with moving out, but I highly doubt it.

Week 26

So… Wow. We’re actually half way there. We’re slap bang in the middle of the year. Where has this time gone? For me personally it’s mostly been slept away. My medication continues to dictate the hours I am able to function, with much of my mood being in the stable to low region of a graph. I think I feel much more frustrated lately because college is dawning on me, and I’m starting to worry about how prepared I am for this. My sleeping issues have been a constant now for 11 months. Surely there should be some steadying out by now? My GP is still concerned that switching medication could be disastrous, but I’m growing very concerned that over sleeping is going to destroy any success I may have at college.

I’m also reaching the final week of Mindfulness with IAPT. I think both sides of the course (and the social interactions) have helped, but I’m heading towards the final session feeling that the majority of this has been a waste of time for me. It’s definitely been something to motivate me weekly, and it has given me elements to put in use. I think perhaps I need to actually motivate myself to meditate more to maybe feel some of the effects. But then I suppose there are things that I am using daily that I have learned, and it’s not about the individual symptoms for me, it’s more about what’s at the core of my being (so to speak). I think I need to think less, and concentrate living in the moment and perhaps enjoying my life more than I tend to critique it and even despise it.

I think this week overall has seen some improvement once again in my mood. I think maybe being more active some days is helping. The struggle is I want to be active more early in the day. Recently my sleep pattern has slipped to 2011 levels of sleeping from 1/2am – 3/4pm. 14 hours sleep really isn’t necessary, and I’d like to get out of that, but I’m finding myself resigned to it because it’s a physical/physiological problem. Again, I need to take this up with my GP. I digress however…

Things have relatively improved in my head. I’ve found a creative streak in me this weekend where I’ve been putting together ideas for a book/script. I have 1 page of A4, but that is one page more than I had a year ago. I’m going to try and use that as my focus or as a goal for the next few weeks to get into and complete. The hardest part for me though for this is 1) writer’s block 2) my own self-discipline/self-confidence. I’ll beat myself up if I don’t do something, but then beat myself up more if I write something stupid or think something’s stupid. So yeah, I’m going to be tackling that more head on in the next week or so. We’ll see how that pans out.

This is also the last full week on Active for Health. I’m really hoping to continue at the gym after it has expired. There was mention of a discount so I’m hoping it’s cheap enough that I can afford it. As I’ve previously mentioned I think this has helped me more than maybe therapy sessions or socializing. I think a lot of my neurosis is extremely complicated and wrapped around years of various self-inflicted or externally afflicted abuses, but one is definitely to do with my body image. I’ve been body conscious most of my life, and as such I’ve never been comfortable with the way I look. If I was a girl you’d be telling me this was all fine and I look gorgeous. Unfortunately I’m a bloke, and I am actually obese, and have been this way most of my life. The gym is definitely helping, and I think I maybe need to regulate my issues more with exercise.

Those of you in the know already know that exercising doesn’t come cheap. “Well get out and walk!” I hear you cry. Sadly I’m past that. “Well eat salads!” Have you seen the prices of salads lately? I’ve definitely become more aware lately of what I’m putting into my body, and what I’m doing to get it back out, but the other problem is this dark passenger I carry. It’s very difficult to motivate yourself to get out and exercise when it’s telling you that you’ll always be fat and you’ll never amount to anything. The more I exercise though, the more it feels like this voice is going away, and while I’m still struggling to get up before noon it doesn’t feel like my day is completely wasted if I at least get to the gym.

Well that’s my weekly rant over for another week. Thanks for reading.