February 2016: Iron Man

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This month’s entry is going to be a little different in that I’ve not really planned how I’m going to give an update, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

Firstly, the bad. After 4 months of quitting smoking I broke from stress a few weeks ago and have pretty much been almost back to my old habits. It sucks. I hate myself for it. But, I understand it is a crutch, and it is something that I lean on in times of high stress. Mostly that was to do with how I felt over January and into February. I just needed some form of cathartic release. I guess maybe it’s a form of self-harm? I don’t know, I’ve never been a self-harmer to what I would recognise.

To backhand off of the smoking, my mood has been a little erratic. My own internal thoughts questioned whether the mood swings were from a misdiagnosis, “maybe I’m bipolar!” was a thought, but I just think overall it has been a shitty time to be me.

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So that’s the bad out of the way. The good is I am attending CBT classes once a week that have been beneficial. I’ve looked at how my way of thinking is overly self-critical, coming to terms with what my ‘rules for living’ actually are and how they trigger certain negative thoughts or reactions within me. Some of it was obvious, being cleanly and organised as a means to hold back depression, and overworking out of fear of failure. But one thing that I learnt a few weeks ago I didn’t expect to find. I discovered that even though I’m so incredibly lonely, I force myself into isolation because I’m afraid to get close to people for fear of abandonment. This is something I know I learnt years ago, that I have abandonment issues for a large variety of reasons, but that it is affecting me by becoming isolated was something very new. This comes as I also learnt that I have a polite and kind demeanour because I am fearful of rejection if I am not. Even from strangers.

It is a complicated issue, but I know the abandonment comes from what I perceive as rejection from my father (to get extremely personal about that) even though he was present in my life and in the home, it never felt like he wanted to be a part of my life. In fact, a lot of my life has been trying to earn his favour, that I just want to impress him. The other side is from my uncle, who passed away in 2002, and how he was more of a father figure in my life, but he left me because he committed suicide. There are then my long-term relationships with girlfriends who have mostly been the ones who rejected me, followed by losing my best friend Matt to cancer 3 years ago. Most recently I lost another friend to prison – abandoned without ever saying a word because of pride.

Han Solo - you know Kylo Ren gets this from your side of the familyLike I said, it’s all very complex.

What this has shown me, however, is that I need to open myself up more, because at this stage I am pretty much starving myself of affection or human contact. My fears are what are currently driving me, even if I didn’t know I had these fears. Sidebar: funny story. I remember at my induction to my part-time job last year we were all sat around a table and were told to write down our biggest fears, and afterwards we’d pick them out of a hat and try to guess which fear belonged to who. I also remember doing something similar in a uni class last year too. Each time I struggled to think of a fear. I didn’t think I was fearless, but I’m certainly much more of a rational person I guess. Heights scare me, but I wouldn’t say I was afraid unless I was dangling off a cliff. That said, knowing now that I’m afraid of being abandonment it’s not likely something I’d share with the world… well… outside of here, obviously. It’s just not something you would want to bring up in polite conversation I guess is what I am trying to say.

Suffice it to say, now I am making more of an effort with the world around me. I’m engaging with my co-workers more, talking to people in the coffee shop, and recently talking to a girl who I recognised from my course who is also taking CBT. I’ve seen her around on campus a few times and struggled to decide if I should talk to her or not. The day I decided I would talk to her she spoke to me first! I could feel my hands ball into fists and squeeze tight, it was one of the most stressful encounters I have had in quite a while, but I’m glad we finally spoke. That’s not to say that I have any sort of romantic interest, it’s because we have something mutual in common. Well, 2 things – film and a mental health issue. This might actually be someone I can fucking relate to, would you believe it!

Iron Man 3 - We're connected

Another ‘push’ I gave myself was to ask a security guard at work I had befriended, who knew my name, what his name was! We all wear name badges where I work, except for the security guards. They have IDs, but the names aren’t easily viewable. This weekend I plucked up the courage to step out of the comfort zone and ask and he was really cool about it. He’s an Egyptian national by birth so he doesn’t have a Tom, Dick, or Harry type name, and he patiently taught me how to pronounce it. It was really nice, and now I feel better for knowing his name.

I’m kinda gushing now, and I feel like I’m rambling. This feels like an oddly positive post (for a change!) so I think I’m going to leave it at that. Next month I’ll have to fill you all in on what’s happening with a new diet and exercise thing I’m trying out. That reads kinda bullshitty, but I think it’ll end up being the focus of March’s post. So until then…

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Much love ❤

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January 2016: Bad Reputation

Hello again. I have a lot to get through this month, so I’ll try to be as succinct as possible whilst filling in the gaps.

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January started out well. I returned to university the day before New Year’s Eve due to work commitments, and with no plans of celebrating the new year I spent it alone. Yeah, it was lonely, but I’ve honestly felt lonelier. I was hoping that work would throw me a few extra shifts over the next few weeks before uni started back up again just to give me something to get out of the house for in the week. Sadly this was not the case. I also came down with a fairly awful cold at this time, but I was also dealing with some nerve issues in not just my back/left leg, but my left shoulder and arm (an old injury), and my right hand. I was 95% certain the nerve issues in my hands were related to my neck, while the lower back and leg were linked to each other. Yet there was a 5% thought in my mind that I was experiencing the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. Over the past 4 years of writing here I cannot recall (but I’m sure I must have mentioned) that MS (as it is commonly referred to) runs in my family. My eldest uncle had it before dying due to complications from it, my uncle who was my godfather (and also more of a father to me than my own growing up) may have had the early stages of it before committing suicide, and my own father has it. So I was a little concerned, and I wanted to get that checked out. This was in the usual manner befitting of me as an info dump on my local general practitioner of medicine.

Because of this I was referred onto a physiotherapist for the nerve pain. I knew the cold was going to go away anyway but he had noted it anyway and noticed I was overdue for some tests – so I was sent for some blood tests just to be sure, and the nurse there also noticed I was overdue for an asthma check. *Sigh*. Of course it all comes back negative, except for a slight deficiency in iron or something. A prescription was written out for me, but 4 weeks later I still haven’t picked it up. Whatever.

Wolverine - Go Fuck Yourself

Anyway, back to the GP: I had been feeling a little low and stressed, and had been for sometime; I guess it had been ongoing for around 9 months with periods of highs and lows (as documented over the past 4 posts or so). So I asked about getting some help (just like a top up to stuff I already knew for shit I may have forgotten) with anxiety and depression and wanted to be referred to some CBT (AKA Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) that could help ease the symptoms. The way things turn out is it was a self-referral scheme and after a few phone calls I was on a waiting list, and then on a course that began this week (01/02/2016) – but more on that later.

Over the Christmas break I pretty much ignored my studies for university because I was pretty much busy all 14 days I was back home. I honestly barely had time to completely relax and recover from the previous semester. I had started to make plans for the 2 essays that were due in at the end of January, but I thought I had a number of weeks still remaining where I’d have the house to myself, and I was only working the weekends so the weekdays would be where I could get work done. What I hadn’t counted on was feeling so physically unwell that it would end up filtering into my mental wellbeing. I felt lonely, again, I felt pathetic because I was so physically unwell that I could barely look after myself, and just wanted to stay in bed. When I was finally physically better enough to do work I couldn’t focus on it long enough to get anything complete.

Time was counting down, I was still feeling the pain from the nerves in my back and shoulder/neck, I still had cold residue, and mentally I was psyching myself out.

Things I do when I have to study - Study or Tell people I have to study

I had started the year well diet-wise too. I had been experimenting with healthy foods, discovering what vegetables I liked, and making more health conscious decisions. By the middle of the month, with my mind and body reaching breaking point, I had resorted back to eating take-out food and blowing through savings to save time and energy on cooking. The housemates had also returned by this point too, and so dealing with 6 other people in a kitchen that was constantly a mess added to my stress levels. I thought removing myself from that situation would help.

With one week until the deadline, my diet was in the toilet, savings dwindling, surviving on take-out food, entirely wrapped up in either university work or my part-time job, and no social life, on top of being physically unwell… Still… again… Whatever.

Things were hard. My learning plan with the university that was developed to aid me in times of depression/anxiety helped to alleviate some of the stress, as I found focus to write and concentrate on one essay, but even that wasn’t enough as I struggled to meet the deadline for that and had to call for a week’s extension on both of the essays. I thought a week was generous for one of them, as if I focused it should be finished a day after the original deadline. I was wrong. The deadline was for Thursday, I thought I would be done by Friday, but it took until Tuesday before it was done. And nothing had been done with the last essay, which was due on Thursday!

Walking Dead - Zombie Banging

The final essay was an incomplete mess, and it only met half the word count. I have never been so disappointed with myself in all my life. I was now completely exhausted, and I was only into the 2nd week of the new semester. My brain could barely string a cognitive thought together. I realised I needed to blow off some steam and an opportunity arose to go out with my housemates – This was the first time in a long while we would have done so. I decided I was going to forget all the rules that I had made over the past few months, and I was going to drink (not a lot) and smoke (maybe a little).

To make things easy in describing the events I’m going to refer to the group that went out as the main characters from the TV series How I Met Your Mother, circa season 5/6 – the time where Barney and Robin were basically together if you get the allusion. Except the Robin in my story is a guy and isn’t dating Barney, but Lily and Marshall in this analogy are. But Barney and Robin are as annoying together in this as they are in the series when they’re together. I hope you’re still with me here.

Turk - Scrubs - Makes I don't know sound

The night was horrid. The country was experiencing another severe storm and Kent was taking the tail end of it. So whilst it wasn’t as bad as it was in some areas of the country it was still pretty horrible. We had walked into the city centre to go to a pub for some drinks and a few laughs. It also coincided with a graduation day and payday. The first pub we arrived at was packed, with the ambiance so loud it was difficult to hear each other across the table we had been lucky enough to grab. We had 2 drinks in this pub and moved on.

Now, Barney & Robin had brought with them half a bottle of Bacardi rum, the other half presumable they had drank, and had made us stop at a shop on the way into town so they could get something to mix it with. Like I said, the weather was horrible, and we had to wait for them to finish their drinks before we could go into the first pub. Marshall, Lily, and I ended up going in the first pub before they finished because it was so wet and cold out. Meanwhile, Barney & Robin stashed their bottle of Bacardi in a nearby graveyard(!!!).

So when we left the first pub they had to go and pick it up again. Okay, that was fine. It wasn’t out of the way. But as we got closer to the next pub we had all decided to go to, Barney & Robin decided they wanted a Subway sandwich. Okay. So the next pub we were going into was across the road, so we’d meet them in there. Except Marshall stayed with them, and it was only Lily and me who went to the pub.

Now, to understand, out of everyone I live with, (including Lily who doesn’t officially live with us…) she’s the one who I probably have the most in common with. This is followed closely by her BF Marshall. But sometimes we can both be extremely socially awkward, and most of that is probably on me. So on entering the pub, Lily went to use the restroom whilst I grabbed a beer, and we met back up and found a table. It was busy, but not too busy, and the music was pretty good – something I think we all would have been okay with.

After 10 minutes (not including the time it took to get served at the bar and find a table) Lily and I were beginning to wonder where the others were as Lily hadn’t bought herself a drink as she was waiting for Marshall. After messaging them all, Marshall came in a few minutes later and said the other 2 were not far behind. When Barney & Robin did show up they pretty much said they were only coming inside to say ‘goodbye’ as they were going to a nightclub. I was a little stunned, but shit like this had happened before, so we said our farewells and they left. Marshall and Lily didn’t get a drink as it was clear they just wanted to go home, and by this point I felt the same.

GoT - It's a Trap

So I finished my beer and we braved the long, stormy walk home to find Barney & Robin in the house – We didn’t know they were coming home first to get changed. “Oh. Okay” I thought, “Whatever.” I get to my room to shed my soaked clothes, and look at my phone. I haven’t checked it since we left the pub. Now, to let you know, the housemates have a WhatsApp chat group. Mostly it’s courteous stuff, passing on information and alerting about stuff to do with the house or organising to do social stuff. When I checked my phone I found this message from Barney: IMG_1311

From that I thought it was an exasperated kinda “I really need to dry something so I can go out tonight, can I take it out to put mine in?” type of message. I had a mountain of washing that had piled up for several weeks, including bedding and towels, because of the workload I had on due to being incredibly overloaded. As I said, the weather that day was awful. I had also noticed that the washing machine seemed to have been in constant use over the previous few days and there was a lot of clothes hanging in the living room – which is adjacent to my bedroom. So I sent this message back:

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To which I got this reply:IMG_1313

And I replied with this:IMG_1322

From here things spiralled in the chat. I felt as though I was being personally attacked and insulted (speaking to my counsellor/mentor today, he said that I may not have cognitively recognised it, but I had felt as though I had been insulted earlier by Barney & Robin’s absconding from the night out and that has fed into the argument and my anger in general towards him). I felt the angriest I had ever felt. I was actually borderline ready to physically lash out. I think if I had seen Barney before he left for the club (which was while this conversation was still going on!) I would have punched him.

I am one of the least violent people a human being is likely to encounter, and any anger I harbour is usually turned inward (hello, depression!), but this was all the anger, hatred, and resentment that had been building finally erupting  and that was it: No más.

Wednesday Addams (2)

Barney apologised the next day, but by then it was too late, the damage was done. I had moved on from that, but I was too angry anymore. I was angry with everyone and everything. I was a powder keg, ready to go off. Working that weekend was a nightmare, and I’m sure my bosses are contemplating bringing me in for a meeting about my attitude. I’m not saying I was rude to customers, but the way managers and supervisors were looking at me by the end of that weekend it was with looks of concern. I was just so extremely angry for the next 5 days. The only time it was interrupted was through severe bouts of depressive lows: I just wanted to curl up into a ball under a table and cry. I tried to let it out, but the tears refused to flow.

All of this finally peaked on the Tuesday just gone. On my timetable this semester, Tuesday is my busiest day scheduled. I have a 3 hour seminar from 10am-1pm then a lecture at 2pm-3pm followed by a screening. For that screening I have to write a short film review that is due by 9pm the following day, so I try to get the first draft done immediately after the screening, more so now I have an hour gap likely between 5pm and 6pm before I have CBT.

I don’t know what it was about that day that made me into this steaming pile of rage. Maybe it was the change of convenors of the classes for that week due to a trip. Maybe it was being forced to watch the remake of Annie with Jamie Foxx (which is just a fucking terrible film. It has moments that seem to aspire to greatness but, like a new born lamb, the legs give out under the pressure) Maybe it was stuff to do with my ex, who the night before had texted me “Do you still think about me?” To which, still with burning rage and sadness of recent events, I replied “All the goddamn time”. tbt

This led to messages throughout Tuesday being sent back-and-forth semi-reminiscing about our relationship, but often at times being critical. She wrote some things that hurt. I apologised for being a terrible person because, in part because of the previous few days – I had been thinking about how I may be a terrible person and just not know it. I could just be completely oblivious to this. Then she said something that made me feel just fucking awful; that I had made her feel “lonely” When we were together. Long time readers know the complications of our relationship. Of all the things I could’ve made her feel, lonely was the one thing I that would never enter my mind. If anything, our relationship was born out of loneliness. To tell me that was to say I had failed in my job as a companion and as a human being. It was the deepest cut of all.

Maybe it was out of anger from what had been building over the past few days (N.B. This past year) that I lashed out, but there were these exchanges of messages…

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And that was the last I heard from her. That was Wednesday.

As I write this, it is Friday. I don’t know if I’ll get this posted by the end of the day, I know this is a long first draft and it is going to need a thorough going over. After seeing my mentor/counsellor I feel a lot better about myself, but I feel like my life is a complete fucking shambles. I hate the house I live in. I feel extremely alone at university. I’ve likely burned any bridge that remained standing between me and my ex who was really the only person I felt close to back home outside of family. On the bright side, at least the physical illnesses that had gripped me for much of January seem to be subsiding and I’m slowing coming off/reducing the amount of painkillers I’ve been taking for the nerve pain. So… Y’know… With the good comes the bad, the bad comes the good…

Much love ❤

Ghostbusters - End of the world Valentines Day February 14 2016