Anxiety, art, depression, mental health

1 step forward, 2 steps back.

Motivation is extremely difficult when your lucky enough to have depression. It can easily, by seen by those not in the know as laziness. Please don’t mistake the two.

With laziness, which we’ve all felt. People don’t WANT to do anything. Often with depression, you DO want to do something. You want to get out and about, you want to have positive experiences, be productive. And the annoying thing in my case, after struggling on and off for almost a decade is that I KNOW being productive, engaging in activities will lift my mood. But it’s as simple as this, I just can’t.

I can’t face the idea of having a shower, getting dressed, eating, or engaging in conversation face to face. Fear builds at each thought of those, how can I possibly even complete any of those tasks?! I want to, but my head won’t let me.

I just stay in bed, in and out of sleep. Passively watching Netflix (friends is my current choice). I often just stare at nothing, with thoughts racing in and out in succession.

Today is one of those days. I feel horrendous. Also slightly numb and flat at the same time. My stomach is churning (a combination of not eating and anxiety) I just can’t see a better time ahead of me.

I’d like to thank every single person who has got in touch with me as a result of this blog. Sharing their experiences, letting me know I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone. And I certainly don’t feel brave as people have said I am (I’ve not wrestled a grizzly bear). But today is one of those days I feel truly and utterly alone. Alone in the presence of people, alone with my self-loathing, panic and questions.

I do want to get better. I want to look back at these posts a year from now and think “Christ, look at me now.” But today, I’m just not feeling jumping over those hurdles (I’m short as it is, hurdles are difficult at the best of times!)

I want a hug. I want someone to just hold me and tell me everything will be okay. But unfortunately, the only person I ever felt safe in the arms of has shown their true colours. And it makes me sick to the very pit of my stomach.

I am FORCING myself to go to the gym tonight. I even bought gig tickets today, just to have something to have to do in the not so distant future. But I can’t see past this dark, thick fog (even with my full beams on.)

I just want today to be over. I just want to fast forward to a better time. I want my new meds to kick in. But you know what they say, want doesn’t get (I think that’s what they say I’ve forgotten, my brain is all fogged up too).

I want help. And the mental health system is on its arse, after my stint as a patient in A&E with all this I’m still waiting for therapy. I hate waiting.

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Anxiety, depression, mental health

The finale. AKA what went down.

So here’s the curtain call on 6 years. Feel free to throw flowers on my metaphorical stage as I take my bow.

As you know, the last 8 months have involved daily anxiety, regular panic attacks, frequent days of low mood and self doubt. Little did I know it was that pesky sertraline! My family noticed (apparently there were discussions about it). And at the time, my partner was aware.

When I drank, and decided to let lose and try and have some fun, my anxiety was also in on the act. He wanted a slice of the party pie. The butterflies would emerge from their cocoon.

In this state, whatever someone said to me, would cause offence. I hold my hands up, there were times I got extremely nasty in these moments – really upsetting friends. But when he would say something nasty to me I’d break down, or tell him I can’t be with someone who doesn’t understand. I’d rant about my constant fear and hopelessness. We would eventually agree that we are going to get through this, together, as a team (he always said we were a team, I just must be the player that was sold off to a team in a lower division.) I accessed therapy – with an 18 week waiting list.

We were fine, we booked a holiday, we had loads planned. We were going to a festival, comedy gigs, general gigs.

It was the weekend after valentines (I’d been working nights during the week – the worst bloody shifts that had been quite traumatic). It was also his sisters birthday so we were going to her flat for drinks before us two going out for a meal. We had a few drinks, I wasn’t drunk. Chatting to people, even his dad, who suggested we join them for their meal, we obliged.

This is where the tide turns, waiting for our taxi into town, he decides to tell my anxiety wriggled self that his sisters friends have commented that I speak to him like shit! WHAT? Like really WTF! now if you know me, I do tend to be quite banterful, and this is always how me and my friends and he have communicated. Here’s and example “oh you bloody idiot” in a jokey way.

You can imagine this yeh? He went mad. Saying his family thought the same. The anxiety raged, I broke down, I’ve never meant this in anyway at all, what have I done wrong now?!

We got to the restaurant, he went in, I said I couldn’t sit with his family knowing that they think that of me. So he went in without me.

There I was, tear stained, shaking in the middle of cold drizzly Manchester. I began panicking, my hearing was going, I couldn’t see properly. I wanted it all to end, all the fear, all the self blame, the constant feeling that everyone has something against me. So I rang him, and yes I told him, that I can’t cope with things like this setting me off into oblivion anymore. I wanted to end it all. (I still can’t physically write it out, but I’m sure you get the gist of what I really wanted to do at this point).

He ran after me, I told him everything, how it makes me feel. Constantly on edge, feeling everyone hates me. He cried, I cried. We ultimately decided we needed to go home and talk, which we did. On the train home I broke 2 paracetamol in half and went to take them (I had no drink) and he slapped them out of my hand and asked me what I was doing. Clearly thought I was going to top myself on the train, paracetamol wouldn’t do that – trust me I’ve seen people post paracetamol overdose. It doesn’t work and gives you liver and kidney failure. (I’m trying to tell myself to keep this bright!)

We talked, he told me he wants to support me, we slept, we cuddled, we kissed. The next day he was fine. We had a Maccies (I had one of those massive big Mac’s and it’s the first time a Maccies has made me full.) He then went home, said he loved me and to stop worrying, that we were fine and we will be okay. He even rang me on the way home because he was worried I’d be worrying. Well, how that lasted long…

He went to his parents house and that’s when I got the messages. That he needed space after telling his parents what I had said and done. That he loved me, but after talking to his parents I had “caused irreversible damage to his family”. That I was correct about his dad not liking me. (I know I’m not the nations sweetheart but I’m not Satan himself!) He said he wanted to know how my initial therapy assessment went on the following Tuesday.

Well long story short I told him how it went, he still didn’t want to speak to me, 6 days passed, I contacted him telling him I need to know what’s going on. Once again the reply was “more space” (what does he want to be in a black hole! That’s not a euphemism). That it was difficult for him to and he misses me and loves me, that he wasn’t trying to “alienate me” that we were still together (he was on tinder at this time). A further 9 days went by… I went on his email (it was logged in on safari.)… my heart dropped to my feet, I was dizzy, I was wretching . He had signed up to tinder plus…. he had strung me along, not knowing where we stand, yet he was searching for other options the whole time.

Obviously I contacted him, literally just saying “I’ve seen your emails, we need to talk now”. I was met with a stone cold brick wall. Brief and blunt responses, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t meet me for at least a week. I finally asked what I knew the answer to – “so have we broken up?”

The answer: “I think that’s the conclusion I’m coming to.” THINK, THINK?! He was still dangling that carrot in front of my rabbit face (I do have the chubby cheeks, fortunately not the teeth).

I went to my mums, I sobbed, I screamed, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. Then the next day arrived. When I received the following:

“That few weeks allowed me to get some perspective on things. I feel it was a long time since I put myself first and made decisions to benefit myself, so I’ve decided that needs to change. What also struck me was when was the last time we went out together when it didn’t end up in an argument and all the time it was in the back of my head when we went out, I was worrying if things were going to blow up and sure enough at my sisters or properly blew up. What happened that night has stuck with me and I can’t forgive it, what happened on the train especially. It’s caused irreversible damage to me and my family. I can’t go back into the relationship now because that will always be with me. I’ve got to move forward and that’s by myself.”

There you have it, his end to 6 years. Firstly his punctuation is SO poor.

Secondly, there you have it, this is why people hide their mental health problems. Because even the ones you love, you trust, who you THINK would support you. Can so easily turn their back.

Yes we’ve made progress. People talk about it more. But people who haven’t experienced it will never understand it.

Maybe I should have bottled it up, I feel either way he would have done this. Because my depression was changing me, my meds were changing me. But still if I had bottled it up, who knows, I may not be here now. Or most likely, mental sectioned.

It’s long. It’s depressing. Its cruel. But it’s the truth. And that’s poor mental health and poor understanding. Peace out.

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Anxiety, depression, mental health

Side 2 of side 1. When we entered shit creek without a paddle.

We got back together. You know that yeh? It took some time for me to trust him again. Feeling on a knifes edge that any minute he could drop me again. He reassured me, we lived different lives now.

I was still doing my nurse training (half way through, which is the worst time where you really want to throw anything to do with reflective writing off a cliff). He had organised to go travelling for 6 months with his friend. And I accepted he wanted to do that.

Off he went, I went all the way down to Heathrow to spend one last night with him before he went off to do complete his millennial task of ‘finding himself’. I remember sobbing at the tube station of Heathrow, full snot bubble sobbing. But I trusted he needed to do this, and I had a lot on my plate as it was.

I can’t say it wasn’t a struggle. I missed him, his presence, his smell, just hugging him. And anyone who knows me knows I DO NOT let people hug me. I’m not a big personal contact person (despite being a nurse, I’m not hugging patients all day, I make an exception for the cuties).

There were times I said to my friends, and him “why am I doing this? It’s so difficult.” I even met him in Thailand for Christmas and it was lovely, I had a mini travelling experience with him which I’ll never forget. Especially when a Thai street food vendor stole my new pants! (I wasn’t wearing them as he stole them, that would of been awkward).

I met him when he got to his Europe leg of his trip in Rome, my favourite city. With hope there was just a month left before he would be back in sunny England.

Eventually he was back. We went back to having a semi-normal relationship. (Living only 60 miles apart has its challenges, especially the M6 on a Friday night!)

But there was one major MAJOR niggle. His father. Now, I know in-laws can be a pain in the arse at the best of times. But when someone goes out of their way to ignore you, not make conversation with you, decline you as a friend on Facebook (big deal in this day and age). It puts a lot of strain on how you feel about yourself, especially when you have anxiety and depression as it is. Obviously I thought “god he bloody hates me it’s so obvious.” And guess what, it turns out for once, my anxiety was completely correct. He who shall not be named told me. After noticing it himself and feeling trapped between the two of us, he confronted his father, who confirmed he didn’t like me. Due to how I had upset his son in the past…. WHAT?!

Now up until the end of our relationship, this wasn’t actually confirmed. I pushed on, was polite, attempted to build some form of relationship, but that’s hard when you’re provided with metaphorical circular breeze blocks.

I even had it out with the ex once, in my drunk and anxious state about why the hell shouldn’t his dad like me. I’m not a waster, I’m an RGN for Christ’s sake. To which, he launched at me and put his hands round my throat (red light?! Yeh probs). Probably, due to some delightful childhood experiences I just thought “okay, it’s fine I aggravated him, everyone lashes out now and again right?”

We carried on. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, who’s is?! But 95% of the time we were best mates. Totally in love, marriage talk, kids talk, the whole shabang!

He went away to sea, and forgot to organise his flights home early enough. Therefore missing my graduation. In-fact, he’s missed the majority of my life events (but muggins here still managed to blag time off placement and drive to DEVON, for his passing out parade. Which, I would like to add is 2 hours of standing and staring at people standing. YAWN)

Anyway, I don’t want to ramble. He went away for months on end. We were apart, I missed him but I got on with being me. During this time, as GP’s like to do. My anti-depressants were changed from citalopram to sertraline, as I was having palpitations. Citalopram can affect your QT interval and cause arrhythmias. So my GP panicked and off I went on sertraline.

Little did I know, this knew SSRI was doing sweet FA for me. My anxiety spiked. I wasn’t socialising enough, I was having angry outbursts at friends and family. Spending time off in bed not communicating with anyone.

There was even a time I didn’t think I loved him anymore. We stopped doing things together. Just sat around in a rut. When he touched me my skin crawled. Especially when I found him texting one of his ex’s. (I slapped him on this occasion –maladaptive anger.) He cried and begged me not to break up with him.

He who shall not be named noticed (fair play to him there) and suggested I get some therapy. I self-referred into the wonderful 18 week waiting list for talking therapy.

But things weren’t getting better. I was having them butterflies all day. I had to lay in bed in the morning and rock myself back and forth to distract me from the fear. The low self-worth, the dark thoughts. But knowing I had no reason to feel this way.

I was always scared. Always felt judged, by everyone, and I mean everyone. It would make me tetchy especially after a drink. So I stopped going out drinking. I told him all this. I expressed my darkest feelings to the person I trusted with all my heart. And it backfired. Big time.

See you for the finale!

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Anxiety, depression, mental health, Uncategorized

There are 2 sides to every story. I have 2 sides just for 1: Side 1.

I’ve made reference to the fact that I’m, along with all my other fun mental health issues, going through a break-up.

It’s common in these situations to say “There are two sides to every story.” Which, yes there is, and it’s time now I shared my side.

It’s intertwined with a deterioration in my mental health, family input, and the bitterness of arguing over who gets custody of the caravan holiday in Prestatyn. (Luckily we didn’t need to settle this in court, I don’t own a suit.)

I was 18, a month away from hitting 19. I was dressed as a 118 runner and in a foul mood (just one of my low days, which was rare at the time.) According to him (he who shall not be named- but not Voldemort, although he does share Voldemort’s real name. Coincidence? I think not!) I had a face like a slapped arse. Now most of the time I can’t help this, thanks to my fathers genes I have chubby cheeks. And due to my mothers genes I have resting bitch face. Which results in me looking like a pissed off toddler most of the time.

We were on a pub crawl for a mutual friend’s birthday. Which turned into a flat party (we were freshers at uni, that’s standard practice.) and we started talking about music, turned out we had the same taste, and I hadn’t really met anyone else at uni who did. Long story short, as freshers do, he came back to my flat. The next day, he asked for my number! The long standing anxiety and issues with abandonment screamed in excitement “What?! He wants to talk to me again? Play it cool.” The anxiety parrot chirped in with “He’s just trying to be polite you won’t hear off him again.”

That night he added me on Facebook! He was messaging me! And he even text me too the next day. What sort of sorcery was this!? Turned out, back at home, we lived 60 miles apart and he had family in my hometown. We met up and talked every day over the summer break. In the August we became a couple.

Now, I couldn’t believe my luck, I had met someone that made me snort laugh, had the same interests and he was good looking – despite his questionable hair cut at the time. He then split up with me in the December (1st strike) I was devastated. Not quite heartbroken. I still can’t remember the reason. But he broke up with me and stayed at my house that night (weird). Long story short, as they tend to do a month later he comes back, we meet up, he tells me he made a mistake and wants to be with me. We were then together until we graduated in 2013.

There had been times I had fallen in my well at uni, especially during my dissertation writing – some self harm (that’s for another time) where his reaction was to not contact me for a weekend and tell his parents (pattern emerging here). But the last straw was when we had both moved home, he made me drive the 60 miles to be told he’s just not in the place for a relationship, that my mental health caused me to rely on him too much (Strike 2).I drove home in bits.

I got on with my job, 2 weeks later my second grandad suddenly passed away. I remember texting him to tell him, to which he said “I hope you don’t think telling me this will change my mind about being together.” CHARMING.

I began to move on, but every 2 months I’d hear from him, and I’d go running. He was using me and I was willing to let him, grasping so desperately at the chance of keeping him. My family knew what I was doing, my friends knew, they all told me not to, that I was just hurting myself. Would I listen? Would I F**k!

I then had enough when he asked me for relationship advice. I couldn’t put myself through this anymore. I was doing my nursing degree, I joined slimming world and the gym, I lost weight. And I met someone I really liked.

And as men do… they can smell when you’re happy again (seriously they’re like beagles!) and we arranged to see The Courteeners together. As friends. And low and behold at that gig we bumped into the guy I was seeing – and I chose to stay with this guy. He who shall not be named stormed off.

He had wriggled himself into my world like a tapeworm. And the whole night with my new boo was spent thinking about him.

I text him the next day – telling him I still loved him, despite us being split up for 18months. And we met up, he told me he felt the same.

I remember standing in a multi story car park with him (romantic scene to imagine, carrier bags and urine stains). Where he promised me, that this time we get back together as adults, for the long run. When we have problems, either of us. We face them together as a team. That I’m the person he wanted to be the mother of his children.

And that was the end of part 1 and the beginning of part 2. A new chapter. With so much hope….

Funny how words can mean nothing.

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Anxiety, depression, mental health

Bloomin’ well did it didn’t I!

Not only did I go to my Dad’s, he persuaded me to see if I could get back some comedy tickets I had got the ex for Christmas, which he binned. And I did. I rallied up a fellow comedy friend and off we went.

I was terrified like, bricking it. Being out of the house that long! every part of me was saying “don’t go!”. But I did it. And my god was it the best distraction. If only for an hour and a half I forgot the world, and my mind. There were moments of hurt, panic and sadness. Where I wondered why I was doing this.

But my god was he hilarious! I never knew the call of a barn owl could be integrated into a comedy gig!

I’m on a massive come down now. Bill Bailey was my MDMA for the evening (don’t worry I didn’t actually take MDMA). And today I’m feeling it. How can you have a come down from feeling glimpses of happiness?! It’s like I feel guilty and didn’t deserve to feel that way.

So here I am again. In the cyclone thoughts of my mind. Punishing myself for even thinking things could possibly be okay.

When will it end? (I’ve also just realised despite the positive aspects to going out, look at me turning it negative! I just can’t help it.)

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Anxiety, mental health, Uncategorized

My heart might be healing, but my head isn’t.

I’ve had a wild one today. I did a lot of hoovering (always found it very therapeutic). Unfortunately as I hoovered, I wasn’t channeling Freddy Mercury in the ‘I want to break free’ video. Think more dishevelled toddler.

My mood has been quite settled today. Flat really. But I’m recognising that I’m getting into a bad habit. Slightly agoraphobic. I went two doors down to my grandma’s, and being out sent ripples of nerves through me. What do I really have to fear at my grandma’s?! I mean, she could stab me with a knitting needle, but I think I’d have the upper hand in running away fast.

This has happened each time I’ve been out over the last week, after ten minutes, POW, there it is, my heart pounding, my stomach dropping, the beads of sweat wherever it is possible to sweat.

Explaining such fear to others when you’re clearly in a safe environment can completely go over their head. And guess what world? Saying “Calm down” is as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking competition. It’s not happening.

The fear is going to be there if I’m feeling calm or not. I only expect something bad to happen. The butterflies throwing themselves around are telling me to expect the worst, always.

So, I’ve become to see my Mum’s house as my ‘safe place’. My new comfort blanket, if you will. The pesky parrot on my shoulder chirping up “You don’t know what could happen out there, most likely hurt and pain. Like, look at you, you’re a mess anyway who wants to see that. Stay here it’s warm and there’s more TV choices.”

With each day that goes by, my heart heals ever so slightly, and I mean slightly. My trust is on its arse, hate is starting to build. But utter disbelief and grief is still there. Holding hands with the anxiety and depression which is always going to be my toxic under-current.

I’m still in that well, and it’s been snowing so it’s freezing down here. But my friend sent me down a blanket.

With every minuscule piece of strength I can muster, tomorrow I am going to go out. I’m going to see my Dad. I am.

I don’t want to push myself too far and end up freaking out Britney 2007 style – but I’m actually going to try and go back to my flat. Pick up post, see how I feel, bin some stuff.

But the butterflies are raging. The associations with my own home hurt me too deeply.

Wish me luck. Or send meds.

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Uncategorized

Not much to say today…

I’ve not felt I have anything to say today. I’m feeling a bit numb really, like when you sleep on your arm and worry you might have had a stroke in the night.

I managed to do this painting. I even managed a bath! That sounds gross doesn’t it, but it’s a genuine goal for me. I don’t leave it to the point that I’m circled by flies though – I have a smidge of respect for myself left.

I actually had, for me, a busy day. An old friend came round, and she honestly made me see things from a different light (helps that she’s a therapist. She owes me from looking after her when she was paralytic at uni, whilst we all shouted “flick your flaps” at her.)

Although I’m at the bottom of that metaphorical well, and I’m still struggling with the panic and abandonment issues I have (I know you can’t wait for a blog about that!) She made me see the tiniest glimpse of sun from the bottom of my well, which is pretty damp and there’s some fungus growing down here, unsure if it’s edible.

My Aunty also came round, her and my mum are identical twins, so genetically she’s also my mother (two mums – nightmare or a blessing?) Unfortunately, she’s been in a very similar situation to me, her husband deciding to leave when she hit rock bottom with her own mental health. I saw her at her lowest, in hospital. I see her now, happy, and supporting me, I’m so proud of her. Maybe, if she can do it, with our shared mental fun in our head. MAYBE, I can do it too.

I don’t really know right now. I’m not sure about anything. I’m just trying to get through each day. Daydreaming up plans to get out of this well. I’d build a ladder but I have dyspraxia, and construction and dyspraxia do NOT mix.

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