October/November 2015 – Black Dog

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 01.39.13Here’s a funny story.

More than a month ago I wrote an entry for October. It was raw and unedited, but it existed. I then put off editing it for a day, then for another day, and another, and another, until eventually I realised it is December and I hadn’t posted anything in November at all! I wish it was purely down to laziness, but sadly over the course of October through November I experienced my worst bout of depression 4 years.

Game of Thrones - Night's King - Do you want to build a snowman

To explain this, or rather to help you understand, I’m going to start at the beginning.

Frequent readers will be well versed in my battle with loneliness this year, which for the sake of narrative, had begun in March. I say this because for a variety of reasons I was already feeling alone in the world, but still felt as though I had friends or at least some connection to the outside world.

In March I discovered that one of my last remaining closest friends had been sentenced to more than a year in prison (originally believed to have been 3 years) for committing a serious crime. This completely shocked and caught me off guard. I had no idea this was going on, and as it turns out this was something that ‘W’ himself had kept hidden, partially through fear of judgement, partly through shame. However, this was the beginning of the slump for me. I now felt as though I had no truly close friends left back home.

Game of Thrones - I'm not your buddy guyIt was also around this time I had an argument with my ex-girlfriend, “Starbuck”, about how I felt I was still trapped in her orbit and couldn’t let go because she wouldn’t let go. I had up to this point been trying my best to distance myself to “get over” her even though we were still trying to be friends. I lashed out in my argument because of what had happened with ‘W’, perhaps feeling that I didn’t deserve to have any friendships because I didn’t see what he had done. The point is, we still remained in contact but now we communicate together even less than we ever have.

Then over the summer I moved into my new student house where I thought some of the friends I had made would be around. I was sorely mistaken. On top of this I became ill with a chronic cough that wouldn’t shift, and within a few months after moving in and starting a part-time job I managed to trap my sciatic nerve, which caused incredible pain in my left leg.

Depression -- Must resist urge to lie around and be sad - sigh

By the time my housemates returned from their summer break boasting stories of conquests and adventures, I was understandably miserable and facing down my 30th birthday. By this point I was dealing with my physical problems proactively, and had resolved to quit smoking after my birthday and the stag-do of a friend the following week, whilst the sciatic nerve problem was being dealt with by pain killers. I also decided that since I hadn’t drank alcohol much over the summer and that I wasn’t really missing it that I would give that up too, for good.

Setting these goals made me feel better, but I still felt sad about hitting my 30th essentially alone. I spent the weekend before feeling pretty miserable, and ended up staying in bed on my actual birthday until my phone rang around midday. On the other end was my mother, who was calling to tell me that a delivery driver had rang her to say that he was outside my house but there was no answer and that I needed to get to the door. You see, she had arranged for something to be delivered to me for my birthday the week before and the driver had her as a contact, not me.

Anyway, I rush to the front door, still in my bed clothes, and lo’ & behold, there is no delivery driver, it’s my parents, Nan, and my mum’s eldest brother who lives in the same county as me! They had travelled down from Coventry, stayed at his home the night before, and traveled across the county that morning to take me out for my birthday. It was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I didn’t care about the gifts or the cards they had brought with them, I was just so happy to have family to spend the day with (or at least an afternoon). IMG_0464

Understandably they had to travel home later that day, and so they left before rush hour to make it home at a reasonable time. Regardless of this I was so incredibly appreciative that they had made this effort for me. I was also incredibly appreciative of my housemates throwing together an impromptu surprise party at our house. It was just us, and we eventually ended up going out for drinks, but it was still nice.

It was during this night that I noticed again how I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of alcohol. This was followed up again that weekend at my friend’s stag. I knew that when I quit smoking on the Monday that quitting drinking was going to be the best thing for me – I was no longer getting any enjoyment out of it, it affected my weight, and the hangovers were the worst because of my depression.

Before I go down the line any further chronologically I just want to talk about this a little more. The benefits of quitting drinking and smoking are extremely evident, however what I had also done was disarm myself of tools I had used to be social and meet people. Not that I was going out much anyway, I was now not going out at all. Coupled with the fact I wasn’t active with any of the university’s societies meant I was literally only interacting with my housemates, classmates, and workmates on a regular basis – but not interacting as you will now read.

IMG_0465

No one really tells you just how difficult it is to quit smoking. They kind of allude to it being hard, as if it’s just all about breaking the habit and addiction, but they never tell you about how difficult it is mentally. The first week wasn’t so bad, but part way into the second week I found myself starting to feel very shitty. I was feeling very negative, I hated everyone around me (to a level I’ve never hated anyone in my life before), and was starting to feel very low. This was really compounded by trying to drop my dosage of meds too. What happened was I had created a maelstrom of shit and unleashed it upon myself.

Hannibal - Lord grant me the patience not to turn everyone into tacos

So let’s recap. Depression has been brought on due to the following:

  • Loneliness – perceived through incarceration of friend and lack of new friendships at university in addition to minimal contact with remaining friends from home.
  • Loneliness brought on by self-isolation
  • Quitting smoking
  • Lowering medication
  • Chronic nerve pain
  • Chronic undiagnosed cough

Of the items listed above I knew I could only really control one of those things, which was the medication, so I immediately reverted to the original dosage I was on before. I also got in contact with student support and arranged for counselling, although I was put on a short waiting list. I was actually now at the lowest point I had been in 4 years and knew I was in a dangerous situation. I needed someone to be aware of what I was going through and to make sure that I was supported. I was also finally appointed a mentor as part of my disability support, who in himself was a godsend. A trained counsellor in his day job, his support and encouragement since being assigned to me has really helped to improve my outlook.

After week 4 of quitting smoking my mood began to improve. I found that my chronic cough was subsiding gradually – although not entirely. At the time of writing this post it is still present, yet coughing is not a regular occurrence and it has now been reduced to an irritation that dries out my throat more often than anything.

Currently I am 8 weeks into being an ex-smoker in addition to being an ex-drinker. I feel better in myself both physically and mentally – but perhaps more mentally than anything. Due to the depression and isolation I’ve eaten complete shit, surviving off take away pizzas and frozen supermarket pizzas. Anything that really means I have the least amount of time in which I have to physically present myself in the presence of another human being. As such my negative mind is beginning to focus on my weight more and more.

Spock - Sobbing Mathematically

This type of negative thinking can be unproductive, but to be honest weight and diet was the next step in the health recovery I began in October. This is not me saying it’s a New Years resolution, but I am looking into ways of getting through a month on a healthy diet. My thought process here is that if I set a goal then it doesn’t feel like an indefinite process. It was a similar thought process that got me through quitting smoking by focusing on getting through the first 4 weeks smoke free, and then being smoke free permanently after that. However this is getting off topic and is probably more suited for a discussion next time.

I feel better now, but I still feel somewhat fragile. This paragraph was started nearly a week after finishing the first draft. I had lost my focus again, and was finding it difficult to concentrate. This has been a reoccurring problem for months now and has really hindered my work, although not my part-time job in which I typically can just zone out and almost meditate. It is as if that job has become my happy place where (as much as it seems to be partly the cause of my physical pain of late) it has been a place where my mind quietens down. Maybe. I don’t know. My train of thought is wandering again.

The point is tomorrow I’m going home for the Christmas break. I’ve got a wedding I am attending a few days after that before returning home again before Christmas itself that I am looking forward to, and I am looking to arrange meeting up with friends over the course of the break. However, the only thing I’ve been thinking about is how much I just want to hug my Mum and never let go.

Much Love ❤

Rage Comics - Star Wars prequels better than original trilogy

P.S. So I normally do a New Year review/look ahead post around this time of year, which is something I still intend to do. What I don’t want to do is make a promise that I could end up breaking. I’m pretty much using the Christmas break as an excuse to step away from all of my responsibilities and shut down temporarily. So hopefully I will see you all again before the New Year, but if I don’t I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. xoxo

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August/September 2015: All Along The Watchtower

 

Coke - No Dana only Zuul

This post is going to be a little bit of a double header. Whilst this will be encompassing August and September, it is also going to be my last post as a 20-something-year-old, as tomorrow I will turn 30. It’s the end of an era, but not the end of this blog. I will continue as I have done with (mostly) monthly personal updates, however a disclaimer will appear once I embark on my fourth decade on this planet so as to not mislead anyone new coming here.

It is a weird feeling being on the verge of turning 30. Maybe it’s being a student at university or maybe it’s something to do with how I feel in myself, but I don’t feel like I am 30. On one hand, friends I’ve grown up with back home are getting married, having children and settling down. On the other hand, internally I still feel like I’m in my early 20s, especially so being away from the city I grew up in and having this educational experience at university. I think some of my feelings originate in a large period of my 20s that felt like they were mired in personal conflict and a search for meaning and purpose. There was nothing really for me to cling on to that said “this is where I grew up”, like for so many people who go to university or move out of home and in with friends.

I take comfort in knowing that people younger than me look older than me

I think the only markers I’ve kind of had have been in long-term relationships. I have been fortunate to have 3 of these over the years, which had me envision a future with each of them, but of which never amounted to anything more than just relationships that just weren’t meant to be. The last relationship I’ve spoken about more in depth over the past few years as it was the only one that crossed over with this blog and our time together as a couple, albeit a controversial one. Sadly this relationship, whilst over, is still a dominant part of my life – and it is one that I still feel drawn back to. This brings me back to growing older and being a student. As much as I’d like to move on and meet other people and have new relationships, I find that I am constantly reminded that I have a level of maturity that isn’t the same as the 18 – 20-something-year-olds at university. Which really sucks, as even my social circle in and around university, and at work, comprises of people aged 18 to early 20-something.

R2-D2 Sad Beep

What has really started to suck lately is my only ‘in’ for socialising has been drinking with others, something that has been curtailed this summer by the long periods spent alone in the house I’m sharing with little to no interaction with people due to everyone being back at home. Outside of my housemates I know very few people in this town, and in fact know nobody that is not a student here, let alone anyone closer to my age. So the summer spent alone without drinking has oddly driven me away from socialising in an alcohol environment. In the past few weeks with the housemates returning I’ve attempted to drink with them on several occasions, but I just find that I’m not really interested in the booze. It has stopped appealing to me entirely.

An example of this occurred a few nights ago where I went to another friend’s house for a small party that involved drinking games. Bearing in mind I had work the next day, I still came and tried to participate, drank a decent quantity, but I just didn’t truly feel as though I was engaging that well with the energy in the room. This scares me, not because I don’t feel like drinking anymore, but because I feel like I don’t know how to talk to people anymore. I don’t know how to ‘be’ around people any more. I thought I had regained my mojo in that regard when I came to university, but now I feel like this could isolate me not just from the world, but the small circle of friends that I have here too. It scares me more-so as I rapidly approach 30 and begin to feel as though I’m becoming a grumpy old man, which also circles back around to friends from back home who are my age getting married, settling down, and having kids.

Wednesday Addams drinking poison

Am I too old for this?

I think that is what is scaring me with my birthday just around the corner; I’m wondering just exactly what it is that I’ve accomplished with the 30 years of life I have had, and whether what I’m doing now is going to be worth it all in the end.

Looking back on the last few years I should really argue that yeah, it has all been worthwhile. I’ve accomplished my goal of moving out of home, I’ve moved to another city, and I am studying something that I love, whilst I am also working part-time in a retail position, that is a job that I’ve enjoyed more on the whole than any other job I’ve had outside of roles in media. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling so empty and full of self-doubt.

Scott Pilrgim - Oh God I'm so alone

As a side note here I actually began writing this post in the middle of September, but had to let it stew a little. I realised that I’m actually feeling very low lately and feeling very lonely. It is the worst type of loneliness when you are surrounded by people and still feel as though you live in the wilderness.

In the past few weeks between writing I’ve started classes and have been getting things organised. I’ve been suffering for several months now with a cough that won’t go away as well as crippling nerve pain in my left leg. The pain can only be described as like my left thigh is on fire and is being cooked. There’s not a lot that can be done about it except wait for it to ease by itself. The cough is also undiagnosable, having had x-rays, blood tests, and tests for lung function. The only thing left to do now is to stop smoking. I’m not a heavy smoker; I maybe smoke up to 10 a day and have done so for around 12 years, but perhaps that is good enough a reason to quit. As I type this now I am periodically breaking out into coughing fits. Loneliness + low mood + nerve pain + bastard cough of doom = a very depressed 20-something.

Loch Ness Monster Nope

So I’ve spent the last few weeks planning for my future a little. I decided that I’m going to quit smoking after my friend’s stag do in Manchester next weekend. I’ve been trying to buy more healthy food (i.e. fruit and veg) to try to help alleviate some of my symptoms, both physically and psychologically, and cut out the crap fatty/greasy foods. Finally, I’ve also decided I’m going to quit drinking after the stag do as well. I mean, I know I’ve said this before, but I actually feel less attached to alcohol now than I have previously ever been. I’m also away from friends who have influenced me in the past to drink. My friends/housemates here don’t exert that kind of influence. I think if ever there was a time I’d be able to become a teetotaller it would be here and now. I actually want this and have no attachment to alcohol. It’s going to be difficult finding a way to socialise without alcohol, but I’m already finding it difficult to socialise with alcohol so why the fuck not make a go of it, ey?

Doctor Angrily Fixes Bow Tie

If I’m now, potentially, a third of the way through my life and this is the only body I have, one that comes with an incredible amount of faults, then perhaps I should do more to ensure it lasts a lifetime. This weirdly excites me, if only to see how much my body begins to feel better over the coming months. My hope is that come the New Year I’ll be feeling much better in myself, both physically and mentally.

Much Love ❤

Are you okay, I'm fine just tired thoughts

July 2015 – The Chain

Anarchy in the UK - Would you like some tea

Hello again.

We’re halfway through the year and with that I decided to look back and reflect…

the-road-so-farClicking through my posts for the past 6 months I realised just how much my ass has been kicked. Generally I try to live in the present to keep my head above water and stay focused, but in retrospect I’ve realised I have been very unhappy this year. By living in the present I’ve ignored things that have been on my mind, things like loneliness and rejection. I think this is an overly simplistic analysis for a subject that is ultimately complex, but what I do know is I’m depressed. I mean, obviously, duh, I’ve had this diagnosis for 10 years and that is what this blog is dedicated to, living with depression. However, I think I’ve ignored it on a larger level. Sure, depression has been an issue during different events this year, but reading 6 months worth of entries shows really that there is always something going on and I’ve never really acknowledged how I have gotten past these issues because the reality is that I never did.

Supernatural - Crowley - Let me tell you about my feels

For example, I’m still not over my break-up from earlier this year, even though we both still recognise it as the best for both of us. I haven’t moved on because somewhere in the back of my mind I still hold out hope that one day we will be together again. That hope exists because I feel abandoned or rejected by almost everyone else. My friend ‘W”s incarceration has left me with very few friends back home. Other friends now live abroad, and those that do remain aren’t really in communication with me, for one reason or another. An argument could be made that we should settle our differences because life is short, but honestly those left behind have fallen behind for a reason, and that reason is we’ve just grown apart. The few friends I do have rarely stay in contact, busy with life or having a crisis of their own, and that’s fine. People sometimes need a bit of space, and I’ve made them aware that I’m always available for a chat or a visit. However, since I moved to university friends have only ever visited me once, and now we’re in the middle of the summer vacation hardly anyone of my university friends are around. I find myself becoming jealous of people who are off on holiday, enjoying time with their significant other and posting pictures to social media. It’s this kind of resentment that I truly resent. It’s not their fault they’re able to enjoy the summer, but I resent myself for resenting them for enjoying themselves.

Everything is better with Batman

Meanwhile I’m stuck here babysitting a hamster that has been forced on me, which I seem to be allergic to. In fact I’ve spent the past 6 weeks getting treatment to be able to breathe normally and regain my hearing. Yup, I’m miserable. In fact, I have been so miserable I haven’t fully been able to celebrate getting my first job in 3 years! (insert applause here)

So yeah, right now I feel sad and pathetic, and I don’t even really know what would make me feel happy. Sure, there are “things” that have made me happy in the past year – finishing the scholarly year with a First Class is one – I just can’t quite see what would improve my happiness though.

Superman and Martian Manhunter - Lion King

So really I’m going through the motions, just trying to stay active, keep to a regular routine, but in some respects this bores me. I have nothing to look forward to except work. I wonder if it’s worth throwing myself into that, but I fear that I would lose myself in it again like I have done in the past. I just don’t have the answers, which I guess in the grand scheme of things is fine. No one has all the answers nor the key to happiness. I just hope now that I’m working and getting out into the world on a more regular basis that happiness will find me; maybe new friendships too.

Much love ❤

If you can't take me at my Andy Dwyer You don't deserve me at my Star Lord

 

May – June 2015: Ramble On

Hello again. I’m sorry it’s been a while! The exam period was just exhausting, and… exhausting! I honestly haven’t been this tired in a long time – and I’m writing this a month after I finished my final exams. I feel mentally drained, and between finishing my first year at university and moving out of halls the day after my final exam I’ve had zero energy and motivation for anything.

Wednesday Addams - I hate everything

So starting with the exams; I think it went well. My first set of exams I had prepared well for, and I feel that those exams will return good results. My final exam I feel differently about, in part because it was the day before I had to move out and so I had that on my mind, but also because there seemed to be a huge amount to revise for compared to the previous two exams. It was almost an impossible task. I shouldn’t really worry too much about the results as they say that results in the first year don’t matter, however, I discovered that my bursaries are contingent on my averaging a minimum mark of 60% across all the modules. I’m optimistic that I can average that mark, but the final exam worries me as the grading itself is unpredictable, especially considering I know the lecturer will be marking the papers herself, and she is an unpredictable individual.

Anyway, the results should be in by 13th July (which at the time of writing is this coming Monday) and really I shouldn’t be worrying too much, but with monetary bursaries on the line I am certainly anxious.

Cats V Dog - For The Watch

Speaking of anxiety, the stress of moving, again, was fun to go through. It wasn’t actually all that traumatic, to be completely honest. I decided I was going to go back home to Coventry for a week before returning to Canterbury to move into my new student house, with my mother offering to drive down and help with the move once again. The last minute packing the night before wasn’t exactly ideal thanks to the exams, but it did help to ease the stress the following day and we had the car loaded up relatively quickly. The real nightmare was the traffic on the way back home, which turned a 3-hour journey into nearly 5 hours. I also decided that I would drive the first part of the way, so unfortunately I bore the brunt of the congestion, crawling and sitting in traffic for 3-hours. Once we got outside of London and the roads opened up we managed to pull into a service station for a break. I was literally beginning to fall asleep behind the wheel and couldn’t drive anymore. Exam fatigue had definitely set in. We got back to Coventry fine from there, and the next week I mostly slept. In my waking hours I spent time with my family and my kid brother, and also managed to catch up with a few friends, but mostly I just wanted to recuperate.

Moving into the new house was actually entirely easy. We left Coventry quite early, and had my stuff in the house and unpacked by the early afternoon. Some of my housemates had also moved in, but most of them will be splitting their time between the house and home for various reasons, mostly because of family functions and work opportunities at home. This in essence is going to leave me as the sole person living here full-time. This was my choice, I didn’t want to move home for the summer and live with my family again full-time after having gained my independence. I also feel that there are better work opportunities here than back home. That feeling so far isn’t proving fruitful as the list of job rejections continue to increase.

Archer - Low half-hearted bitching

I’ve also applied for and was confirmed for Disabled Students Allowance. After the problems back at the tail end of March I sought out some assistance from student services at the university. Both they and the counsellor I saw recommended that I apply, as I was more than likely eligible. I never honestly considered having anxiety and depression as a disability, and no one ever said having it was a disability, I guess I always saw it as being an obstacle and not a limitation. However, it was explained to me on simplistic terms: if something affects your ability to function on a regular basis, be it physical or mental, then it is a disability and you are entitled to support as defined by that. So you learn something everyday. I don’t know if this would translate into the real world, and I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable being labelled as such. My intention here is not to slight the disabled at all. I just kinda feel like there is such a negative connotation with the word ‘disabled’ as much, if not more so, as the word ‘depression’. I guess I’ve spent a lot of time hiding my depression publicly and not divulging it in job interviews and the like because I fear that people will look at me differently, or treat me differently – for better or worse. But perhaps that is what those with visible disabilities go through everyday, who don’t have the luxury of being able to hide.

Archer - Loud full-hearted bitching

This is probably a discussion for another time, so I’ll try to limit any further ramblings on this, but this is essentially comparable to the X-Men (yup, I’m going there). Some mutants have visible mutations, others can still blend in with humans, but they are still as different as the visibly “homo-superior”. The mutants who can hide in plain sight tend to have an easier life, but the question always remains for them, “why should we hide who we really are?” Perhaps that should be the question raised with mental health. Obviously, the X-Men comparison is slightly subjective, and for the most part people with disabilities aren’t persecuted by governments of the world and hunted down by giant sentinels, but I think maybe there is something there about struggling for recognition to be treated as an equal in society.

I prefer the real Deadpool

Much love ❤

UPDATE: After completing this entry, and on the verge of submitting, I learned that my grades had been uploaded on to the university website, and I’m proud to announce that for my first year at university I was awarded a distinction, A.K.A a FIRST. This is the highest grade I could accomplish. I’m completely over the moon, ecstatic, relieved, and downright thrilled. I really thought my grades were going to suffer, but seeing that I not only persevered through those troubling times, but actually excelled despite all those issues has been an incredible boost to my self-esteem and only makes me even more determined to succeed. And a big thank you to all the well-wishers who have sent messages over the past few months for your support during this, your encouragement has meant an incredible amount to me.

ron-moved

xoxo

 

March – April: Bad Moon Rising

Thor Table Flip

I’ve put off writing this post for a little while, in part because I hate writing negatively, but mostly because something happened at the end of March that I’ve been trying to process and figure out how exactly I can approach this topic on here.

2 years ago, when I lost my close friend Matt to cancer, I became closer to another friend of ours. We had known each other since secondary school, but were never that close until Matt’s death. ‘W’ (whose name has been changed because… reasons) and I quickly became thick as thieves; we socialised together, often going out for drinks with just the two of us to our favourite pub/bar. It was a coping mechanism for both of us, and he quickly became my closest friend. No one else understood what we had been through, and with Matt’s girlfriend away a lot it was mostly just the two of us.

‘W’ could be a bit of a dick, and pretty much everyone I knew had stories about things he had said or done, but for the most part he seemed like a decent person, hard working, liked to go out on weekends, and talk films, TV, and music that we had similar interests in. It became a running joke between the two of us that whenever we were out it was like Sam and Dean Winchester from the TV series Supernatural wing-manning each other. We had even drunkenly discussed getting similar tattoos to the brothers from the show. I guess that kind of showed just how close we had begun to bond together.

When I left for university, I was sad I’d be leaving him behind because I kind of felt like I was abandoning him, even though that was not my intention at all. I knew he could always come and visit, which he did, and I’d be back at various points to meet up – which I did. We might not see each other as regularly, but we would still see each other.

The last time I saw ‘W’ was at the beginning of March for my brother’s 18th birthday. He let us come over to his place for drinks before going out down the town to continue the festivities. We had a really great night, filled with copious amounts of rum. Nothing out of the ordinary. A few weeks later I was at an event on the university campus for the SFX society, where people were dressing up as their favourite characters from film and TV. I sent ‘W’ pictures saying he’d love this event and I wished he were here for it. I texted him that I would be back in town in a few weeks for the Easter break and that I looked forward to drinks with him at our favourite haunt. He replied in the positive, looking forward to hanging out again too. That was the last time I spoke to him.

Wait Bro... reload before you go into that room

The following weekend a mutual friend of ours messaged me over Facebook with a link to a local newspaper story about a person who had been convicted for grooming a 15-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her. Our mutual friend asked if it was ‘W’. Reading through the article I saw they had full named him, given his age, and the street where he lived. In my mind I knew this had to be him, but I couldn’t believe it. He had said nothing about this, and on top of it all it happened 2 and a half years ago – around the same time that Matt was starting to get seriously ill. After a few hours of trying to get in contact with him or someone back home who might have spoken to him, I eventually got in contact with his brother who confirmed to me what was in the paper.

‘W’’s family says the events portrayed in the paper are incorrect and that he has been ‘stitched up’, but after spending the better part of a month coming to terms with it there’s too much confliction in either story to truly know the truth, and the bare minimum truth I know is that he has been sent to prison for grooming an underage girl and sexually assaulting her. Whether part of the story is true or not doesn’t really matter at this stage, because at least half the story must be true. He was sentenced a few days after my last text message to him.

The revelation was heart breaking. I thought I knew this guy. This was the person I considered myself closest to since the passing of Matt; how could I not have known he had a) done this, and b) was capable of this? In the days after the article was published, many of my Facebook friends who knew us both got in contact with me trying to find out if the story was true. Some were genuine friends who were looking for confirmation like I had, whilst the majority of others were gossip hounds. I ignored all the messages. In fact, I ended up dodging social media to the best of my ability for the better part of the week that followed.

This doesn't concern you, walk away - says cat killing another cat

Unfortunately, my “coping strategy” for situations like this is to retreat into a bottle of something alcoholic. Whilst all this was going on I was facing down a one-week deadline to complete 3 essays for my course. The stress was getting to me, I couldn’t focus, and I was finding it hard coming to terms with what had happened. I managed to see a counsellor about it who recommended speaking to student services about getting further support for my work on the course, and possibly a deadline extension… unfortunately that was the Thursday before Easter weekend, and student services had shut up shop already. Making matters worse they wouldn’t be open again until after my deadlines had elapsed.

Jessie Breaking Bad - Sadly Go-Karts

So I continued to drink, I put out a message on social media about the whole situation with ‘W’, and I even sent a shitty message to my ex-girlfriend about how confusing I was finding her texts and phone calls to me. I mean, are we together or not, yo?! Yeah, not the high point of my life.

I felt so alone down here at university, so isolated, and no support. I just wanted to do only two things: sleep and drink.

Walking Dead - Are You Not Entertained But by the Saturday, 3 days before my essay deadlines, I woke up and realised that self-destructing isn’t going to get me anywhere, and I’ll be fucked if I’d let ‘W’ fuck up any chance I had of success in my life. He ruined his life, not mine. So I sobered up. Started getting my notes in order, and completed one essay each day over the next 3 days.

Somehow I had managed to regain my focus, and throwing myself into work really took my mind off of this betrayal of friendship.

By Thursday morning all my classes that I needed to attend were finished. I had a seminar on the Thursday afternoon, but by this point I knew I needed to get home to my family, and so left for home with no real date set for returning to university. I just needed to be around my family for support, because I was in real danger of falling down a deep well of depression and despair. This was the second close friend I had lost in 2 years; and whilst it wasn’t a physical death, it was a metaphorical one. The person I thought I had known for 15 years, the person who I had been closest to since Matt had died, was not the person I had thought I had known at all. I felt betrayed. I was devastated. And to know that he had committed this all whilst Matt was dying… It was just completely devastating.

And to make matters worse, completely unrelated to this ‘W’ situation, there was even more shit going on back home that I won’t get into here.

Bad day - update Facebook - I don't want to talk about it

I’ve always felt like the end of March through the beginning of April was cursed for me. Something always usually happens around this time of year, but in the last few years it had eased off. Little did I know the curse was saving itself for one big shitstorm this year to try and finally off me before I turned 30. But guess what, it fucking failed!

If this had happened to me 4 years ago I’d be done. I mean, I’d have completely checked out and be figuring out the quickest and most painless way to end it all. The difference between me now and me 4 years ago is that I’ve been training for this. I’ve learnt everything I can about my depression and anxiety and how to live with it, and what to do when things get bad.

Going home may not have turned out to be as perfect as I hoped, but being around my family was exactly what I needed to do under the circumstances. The first week was a little rocky – I felt in a daze that I hadn’t felt since… well… since Matt died. The support at home was not what I expected, but I guess subconsciously I did expect it. It was all about the home cooked meals, conversations about crap, and getting back into a routine. It’s the small things that are the important things with depression, and luckily my family knew that. They didn’t engage me at length about what had happened, they just spoke to me as their son/brother. And something has to be said about familiar surroundings. Home may not be where you live, but once you get back there you instantly know you’re safe from the rest of the world.

Don't worry, I got your back

So the moral of this story is: Have a coping strategy.

Don’t resort to drinking or drugs; know when you need help and how to ask for it. And if worst comes to worst it’s okay to retreat back to your family, even as a grown man quickly approaching 30.

Much love. ❤

Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, suicide eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better

February 2015 – Life on Mars

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Things have been a little difficult this month. Don’t worry, no relapses, although it could be said that I’ve began relying on the same old crutches that I lean on in times of distress. But I don’t know if I could really say that I am in “distress”, I’ve certainly had my low points. Okay, so I should probably start from the beginning.

So I think I’ve been feeling very lonely lately, even though I’ve been much more sociable with the group that I’m moving in with for the next school year. I think maybe I’m hung up on my ex in some ways, in other ways I suppose I’m feeling alone because I miss my close friends too. I’ve thought a lot about my friend too Matt, who passed away 2 years ago, and February was the 2nd anniversary of his funeral. This is just some background, as a close friend of mine was due to come visit me this month on two separate occasions, but ultimately let me down. I feel like he was not being honest about why he wasn’t coming, and that his excuses were just that, excuses. It really upset me that he couldn’t be honest about his true reasons, and I suspect they were to do with the cost of travel, but I can understand that. I just wish that he had been honest instead of giving me a BS excuse.

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So then Valentine’s Day rolled around not long after this, and I was stuck with feeling loneliness and heartbreak over no longer being with my ex. This wasn’t helped last week when I received a phone call from her where we talked for nearly 2 hours quite openly. I want to be friends with her, and I want to be there for her still, but the discussion turned to people we’ve been with since we broke up. And I was fine with that conversation. She needed to be open with me about it, and I took it. Which was fine. But I guess I’m not fine because we aren’t together. And I’m here. 150 miles from home. Alone.

So instead I’ve thrown myself into work with uni (I have a short film in production) and in my down time I’ve been drinking… Sometimes alone. Yeah. So not good. But, on the bright side, my finances are pretty low and I can no longer afford to buy booze, so when I am feeling shitty now I just doing it in my room sober. Yay.

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it - Groucho Marx

I mean, this is all about distraction, right? To distract myself from emotional pain? So I need to come to terms with the knowledge that I am alone, or that I can find a healthier way to be distracted. So maybe the best thing for me is to throw myself into my work, no matter how stressful that is at the moment, and focus my mind there. Great art is born out of conflict, and I’m one conflicted motherfucker right now.

Batman Meme

So I’m going to cut it there, and hope that in a month’s time things have turned around for the better. Maybe in a month stronger friendships will have been forged here, and maybe newer ones found.

Much love ❤

Kid in Red Shirt - Don't play with those boys

January 2015 – I’m Your Boogie Man

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Starting a new entry after New Year is always a little difficult. The end of year post is great for reflecting and setting new goals, but the first real posting of the year is hard because a month isn’t nearly enough time to affect change. Not that there is much change I wish to affect upon myself, I’d just like to come into this with a, “Hey, guess what?! Someone dropped a huge fortune into my bank account and I’m now travelling the world for the foreseeable future!”

But that hasn’t happened, and life goes on. I spent two weeks on the university campus alone, more or less, which was nice. It was quiet; I didn’t feel like I was caged with hundreds of chickens, but it was also a little spooky at times. Imagine a big city suddenly being vacated except for maybe a handful of people. That’s what a university campus is like during a long break, it’s very zombie-apocalypse-esque.

Overly Attached Maggie

The week before classes began, students started to return in small numbers. It was also around this time that the anniversary of my friend Matt’s death came around, and here I was, nearly 200 miles away from home, away from friends and family, all alone. I knew it was coming. I thought I’d be able to cope with it. But on the day, a Friday, I began to feel the urge to go home and see them all. It was only made worse by waking up at the same time I got the call 2 years ago to say he had passed away. So at 6pm I jumped on a train and arranged to meet my friends at our regular bar for a night of drunken shenanigans. Being home alleviated the sadness I had felt all day. Just by being able to see familiar faces, familiar spaces, gave me a lot of comfort. We drank, we reminisced. Good times were had celebrating his memory.

After that night I was fine and just wanted to go back to the university, but I decided to spend the Saturday with my family and travel back on Sunday. I don’t know if this is sad, but I also wanted to spend a bit of time with my cats. One of my cats, Woody, recently had surgery after I found a lump on his jaw over the Christmas break. Woody is 11 years old. He’s getting on, and I know he might only have a few years left in him. It’s really funny how a pet can become like family, y’know? He had to return of surgery last week, and they managed to remove the lump in its entirety due to it not being cancerous. It was a huge relief, and he seems to be recovering well.

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In other news, a friend I made at the university called me up to see if I’d be interested to house share with him and 4 others after one of their party had dropped out. Up to this point I had been looking into getting a place by myself. I thought I’d enjoy the space and the peace after living on campus for 9 months. It was pointed out to me however by my ex-paramour that I’d enjoy the peace for a limited time before I realise that I need to be around people to keep me sane and grounded. I don’t see myself as a social person, and infact view my social skills as being still in a debilitated state after my last major episode three and a half years ago, but there is something to be said about compounding loneliness with living alone.

So I took the guys up on their offer, and asked for a viewing of the property. I hate to say this, but I think it’s probably the best decision I could have made. My room is perfectly situated, the space in the house is much bigger than I thought we’d get for the cost of rent, and the house itself is in fantastic condition with all the mod cons. We even get to move in at the end of June when the contract for campus accommodation ends, which is what I was looking for. So everything is awesome. Almost. I’m now under pressure to find work to cover my living costs between June and September, as none of the loans will be in until the start of the second year. And that’s fine. I knew this is what I’d have to do. So while I don’t have to worry about finding accommodation for next year now, I can focus on looking for work… Well, if I can find to focus on looking for work.

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This new term at uni looks like it’s going to be tougher than the last. Of the 2 modules I’m doing, one is 100% coursework and involves making a short film, whilst the other module is focused on the theoretical elements of film. After two weeks of Film Theory I’m legitimately worrying whether any of it will stick in my head for the exam in the summer, let alone for the essay due in a few months.

I’m not panicking just yet, though. My ego is still telling me that I’m one of the best students in the class, and whilst that’s inflated it means I know that if I’m struggling with the comprehension then the others must be too, and that’s fine. Just as long as another student doesn’t come along with a great big comprehension pin to burst my ego bubble I’ll be just fine.

The Real WWF

Anyway, that’s all for this month. Take care, and much love ❤