Up, Down, Up, Down, …

I guess that’s the way of this messed-up world. What goes up, must come crashing down; this seems to apply to my mental health too.

I feel overwhelmed. Someone came over to check the fusebox; just a standard check. I didn’t know, because I never went out to check my post in order to see the letter telling me about it! Oh, and by the way, missing an appointment, even one made without my knowledge, now constitutes a fine. Yay.

When the doorbell rang, I froze; panicked. I was going to ignore it like I’ve done before, but I could hear what sounded like a van outside the block of flats. The van was running and its radio could be heard. I thought maybe I best at least see who it was.

When I got to the living room window to peek through the curtains, that’s when I saw, as expected, a van, with the branding of what is essentially my landlord. I panicked further, now realising I actually might have to do the unthinkable.

Go outside and interact with a stranger.

I didn’t exactly leap at the chance to stumble through impersonal, weather chats, all while trying to muffle the screams of panic within. If I were going to leap anywhere, it would be far away! Unfortunately, I’m not on the ground floor, so I’d have to leap out of the window; not my thing.

I finally, somewhat frantically, got dressed into something halfway decent, “bottoms”, as they call them, and some random clean t-shirt. I feel almost naked without jeans on. I don’t go out without wearing jeans. Shorts, for example, are absolutely out of the question. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the prudish, eccentric nature of my oh-so-wonderful mother who screwed with my brain as a kid.

I hesitated some more, wondering if I could just — not — go see whether it was for me, which was highly likely to be the case. Decided I had to “man up”, as they say.

I opened the front door then quickly went down the stairs, hoping nobody would see me. I opened the main door to the relentless, unforgiving world outside, then walked towards the van, the size of which I felt grew exponentially. The stress of the impending doom interaction and expectation bubbling away under the surface of social protocol.

After all that stress, the friendly chap was in for 5 minutes checking the fusebox; that’s it. Now I’m trying to unwind, because I’m all stressed. Printing these words out on the screen somehow helps. Maybe I can just pretend it’s a stupid story I’m writing and not actually the stupid stupidity of my stupidly stupid morning.

Funnily enough, I then get a text from my dad right after this happened, asking if I’d like to go to the town he’s in, to visit him. What do you suppose I thought to that?

‘Hell no!’

Depression is Rotten

…or is it rotting? I sometimes feel like I’m just rotting away when I’m like this. I’ve been really depressed, lately. Certain life things have gone on, but I think some of it is also down to medication.

I recently went on sertraline and lymecycline, the latter of which is an anti-biotic and isn’t related to my mental health, but in-fact for the health of my scalp, as I have folliculitis. I’ve been on them for I think 30 days now.

I noticed quite the improvement with my anxiety and thus my OCD, but noticed no difference with the depression. After a while, my depression seemed to worsen. I’m trying to keep a hold of the blues, so I don’t end up entirely #0000ff.

One cool thing that came of this new (for me) medication, is that I created a small Linux program I shan’t name that logs when I’ve taken my medication, amongst other things. I worked on it for about 3 weeks, updating it here and there; cleaning the code and what-not. I’ve not missed a single day, thanks to the damn nag whenever I go on the computer! I hope to share it with the Linux world at some point, but not yet.

Back to depression…

I’ve even had old returning thoughts (or “urges”) of self-harm, which I absolutely have no intention of following; been there, done that, and got the ugly, badly-fitting, scratchy-as-fuck t-shirt. I don’t deserve that shit, despite my brain often thinking otherwise.

I don’t deserve an incredible girlfriend. I don’t deserve money. I don’t deserve such a wicked dad. I don’t deserve my best mate. A lot of negative thoughts fly around my head, these days.

Linux has been really important. I feel like I’m accomplishing something; working towards something. Staring at code all day on a bazillion command line windows really does discourage mindless, depressing, bullshit thoughts.

Are you depressed? Feel free to “wallow” with me.

“Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” – Alfred

As a side note to those of you who’ve followed me for some time now: thank you! I appreciate it, and I apologise if you’re annoyed by the lack of “life” posts and recent surge of nerd posts. What can I say, I’m a nerdy guy.

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Finally Back on Medication

A long, long time ago I took Citalopram for probably over 3 years — not fun. Much later, I took Fluoxetine (Prozac) for about 2-3 years; eventually moved on to just beta blockers for my anxiety problems; Propranolol. I’ve been med-less for about a year and a half now. Since I’ve been struggling so much, I figured now is the time to do something about it.

I had to find where the health center even is before I could do much of anything about the medication. After finding one about a 15 minutes walk away from home, I scouted it out, in order to keep my anxiety prepared. Some time later, I went there with my dad and sorted out getting me a new GP in this new town.

The new GP seems like a cool bloke; communicates well, and didn’t make me feel like I’m nothing but a number. He also seemed to have a bit of a sense of humor, which is great, because I tend to crack jokes when I’m stressed out!

So now I have two packs of 50MG of an SSRI called Sertraline to deploy onto the battlefield; apparently it’ll hit my OCD, depression, and anxiety. I’m worried though, because my GP said they can make anxiety quite a bit worse for 2-3 days at first — my anxiety is bad enough as it is! Guess I’ll just have to power through.

Another concern of mine is that I’ll go further coo-coo from the medication, so much so that my girlfriend won’t be able to deal with it. Then again, if she’s stuck around for as long as she has, I could probably point a bazooka to her head and she’d be all, “It’s okay. I love you.” That’s weird, right? I know that’s weird.

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I Don’t Like Halloween

I ignore trick or treaters. I’ve not been where I’m currently living long enough to see any, but I’m sure I will soon! Luckily I’m in an apartment block, but I’m sure that brings its own problems as there are some kids in the building. I’ll just ignore them though; pretend like I’m out if it gets particularly dodgy over here.

The very term “trick of treat” gets my back up, as I interpret it as a threat. I feel like there are better, less potentially oppressive ways to celebrate Halloween. Why is this still encouraged?

I’m more against kids and parents that kick up a fuss if they don’t get their candy, maybe even being abusive or damaging property, as though we’re somehow obligated to go to the shops to buy them candy purely because of the time of the year. It reminds me of bullies at school prowling the corridors for kids’ lunch money.

I have a very, very strong dislike of people trying to manipulate me, or pushing a sense of obligation onto me. I especially don’t like those who assume I should do something out of some arbitrary reason, then pretty it up as a threat, even if that threat is just social disapproval because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. I guess I’m just different like that.

I suppose at some point I had a crappy experience which gave me these very strong core beliefs. In any case, I’m not against people having fun, provided it’s not at the expense of others, so I hope y’all have a good time on Halloween; for me, however, it’s yet another source of stress, so I’ll be hiding away like the stubborn fucker I am.

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It’s Time to Get Help (Again)

I’ve gotten a fair bit of support over the last few years, going to OCD support groups, taking Propranolol, getting assessed for therapy, getting CBT, living in supported housing for approximately 2 years, and getting generic E-Mail support from a local organisation.

I’ve come a long way, but recent troubles have knocked me sideways, shaking some other issues well and truly loose. My anxiety has at times been horrendous with debilitating bouts of dread. Some old OCD issues are taking center stage as well.

I need help.

A while ago, my general practitioner offered me an SSRI for my anxiety. I can’t remember the name, but supposedly it would have helped. Alongside battling the anxiety, the medication should help with my OCD and recently resurfaced depression. Bonus.

I’m going to get in touch with the organisation that got me the aforementioned CBT for my OCD, and this time I’m going to opt for group therapy. I think this could be a huge step in the right direction for me, provided I can actually get to the sessions.

I’ve also just been reminded of something else: there’s a local support group for people with mental health problems. I tried going there before, to their more public meeting, but nobody showed up and I kinda lost momentum after that; it was incredibly difficult!

My dad says he’ll go with me, so perhaps that’ll happen soon. I just need to stick at it and actually go. I have a tendency of bailing when these things come around. I guess after all that supported housing stuff ended, I kinda slowed down where the support is concerned.

If things with my love life are gonna work, given how complicated and stressful it has been and will be, I seriously need the extra support. I don’t think I can cope with it otherwise, as the past has shown.

God, I hope this works.

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Being Adult with MH Issues

This is a big issue that is personal to me. It’s 3:18am, so please bear with me while I attempt to gather my jumbled thoughts into a somewhat-coherent babble.

I have mental health issues, which admittedly isn’t exactly electrifying news for those of whom follow my blog. However, a lot of people don’t seem to realise that having MH issues can and often does stunt how we grow in society.

As a result of at least my OCD, anxiety, and depression, I didn’t socialize properly until I hit my early 20s. I began to suddenly develop a rather decent social life around that time. People often get this done earlier, but not me! Prior to said social discovery, I had only two friends, both of which also had problems of their own.

We pick up a lot from people we hang around with. We learn life skills from those who learned before us. When you have problems though, this can mean you’re often left behind, still trying to figure things out everybody else seems to have mastered.

Got a bank account? That’s great. For me, that was a very scary thing that I didn’t get sorted until I was about 24.

Why?

Because I didn’t have an income as a result of lack of knowledge because things just seemed different for me—I’m “different”.

But really, why no income?

Well, since getting a job just wasn’t practical, getting an income for me, meant getting benefits. I needed to actually understand my limitations, come to terms with said limitations, go to doctors, get judged pretty harshly, sign a bazillion forms, and then wait for ages to see if it all paid off.

It did.

For a long time though, it was something for which I was simply ill-prepared. I lacked the knowledge that it were even possible for me to get such an income. This is just an example of how my mental health issues have made my journey to independence a considerable struggle.

Take relationships. being with someone teaches you a lot. You learn about yourself, what you like, and what you don’t like. You get the opportunity to learn about your body. You start thinking all love-struck about the vast, wonderful future.

I didn’t have my first proper relationship until possibly 23 years of age, so before then I hadn’t even kissed a girl on anything other than the cheek. Don’t even get me started on the sexual stuff!

All the things we go through when we’re younger help shape us into the bitter, know-it-all adults we all eventually become. With these experiences, both good and bad, come a sort of maturity as we learn about ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, if you’re slow to pick these things up, those around you can get frustrated, particularly if they don’t have any real understanding of mental health issues. I’m sure it creates more issues when they think the solution is to push until they get the desired result. While a push here and there can do wonders, it’s not always so viable.

Let’s say you want to go to the shops, but you’re anxious, so you’re not yet ready. Would a good approach be for me to badger you, telling you that you’ll never go to the shops if you just sit around moaning about it? Just go. Stop being such a baby. We all get anxious. Grow up. You need to be more adult. Gosh!

The knowledgeable amongst you will realise that’s an ignorant and unfair approach. Genius though I’m not, I’d still personally try to approach that in a supportive manner, by encouraging them and targeting the anxiety, not the person.

I just wish people understood that this is a real thing. Try to appreciate that those with mental health problems can struggle to do things that you norms would consider simple.

It’s not our fault.

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

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A Letter to Kid Me

Dear Kid Me,

You’ve gone through quite a lot. You were once free to be as a child should be; so innocent. Problems started to form—it was clear you were struggling in this world.

Then we grew up to this man I am today, but still you remained as my inner child. I’ve never really acknowledged your existence. Adult though I may now be, you still reside somewhere within.

I’ve spent years trying to run from you, but one cannot simply flee from one’s own self. I’ve lived as though I’ve no innocence; that was swiftly taken from us. Now I’m just bitter; angry with us and others.

You don’t understand why you struggle so much, and that’s okay—you’re still very young. Nobody should be expected to understand such things at your age. You are developing obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe anxiety issues; you are not a damned soul, you simply have mental health problems.

Our mother made many mistakes; said things she shouldn’t have. Our minds became polluted with fear; always expecting the worst of ourselves and scrutinizing every action or inaction as per how we expect she would think. Our mother is also unwell and clearly struggles with her own issues; hers need not be ours.

You develop a lot of hate for yourself. Deep resentment and hatred will serve only to hurt people and push them away. That same self-loathing will haunt and damage you and your future.

Enough with the diaries and momentos of times long gone. You torment yourself for years by dwelling so much on the past and never really moving on. You’ll merely develop an obsession with things that were; forever struggling to adjust to what is.

Our dad will make mistakes, just like you. He doesn’t yet understand what you’re going through, but he is trying. There will be a day when you’ll both sit down and have open conversations about these things.

You’ve no doubt heard this before, but kid, you’re not perfect; nobody is. It is often said because it’s true. Perfection is a matter of perspective; subjective. What is perfect to you, might disgust another. It’s time you stopped chasing that illusion, for us both.

Sincerely,
Adult You

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A Letter to My Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

I hope you don’t think me ungrateful, but sometimes I feel as though I’m losing faith. We’ve been together for as long as I can remember, yet I seem to have very little to show for it.

I would ask for some time apart so I could recover, but that’s why people sleep. No doubt I’m just being a terrible person, as usual. Obviously you know best.

I have also sent OCD a letter; he is such a kind friend. We may have our problems, but I realise you too are just looking out for me. I do try to listen to you both. It’s just that sometimes you get so aggressive that it upsets me, you silly goose.

You were with me a lot today; I hope I didn’t take up too much of your precious time. Much like OCD, you are often busy; I would hate to be a burden.

I don’t go out as much lately—you consistently remind me of the potential dangers. I ought to take time to consider each and every opportunity for something to go awry. Sometimes I just forget, thinking maybe it’s okay, but of course it’s not.

You make my heart pound something fierce. I’m not sure what I would do if you weren’t there to protect and lead me. I recently got too close to someone very special, but you made sure I kept my guard up as often as possible, as always.

I won’t keep you any longer. I hope you’ll come visit later tonight whilst I begin to sleep. I suspect it’s not important that I drift off right away. There are still a great many things I need to consider.

I’m lucky to have you in my life.

Sincerely,
JoeBlogs

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

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Independent Living #5

Have a bad dream? Too damn bad. You’re alone now. Oh, what’s that, you don’t feel well? Tough titties. Granted, this isn’t so much about independence as it is going solo.

I’ve been depressed lately, which I suppose is to be expected when you disconnect from someone you’ve spent half a year getting very close to. I don’t think it’s just that, either. I’m alone. I never fully appreciated that I’m alone, because I had her, but everything seemed to have changed in a blink of an eye. Now I have to figure this out.

Likely as a coping mechanism, I seem to have taken to my old habit of overdoing the resistance workouts. My neck and shoulders are pretty achy, especially the left of my neck which is very stiff. I put some Deep Heat on it this morning, so hopefully that’ll help.

No pain, no gain, … right?

A bit over 2 years ago, I started really working out again, on a mission to lose weight depression put on, and to gain more muscle mass than I ever did is a young lad. I lost the weight and gained a fair bit of mass for someone who was once such a lanky git. Unfortunately, I realised I had crap form for some of the exercises I was doing, but I realised it too late.

I did something to my neck which essentially makes it uncomfortable and stiff. I think it comes down to inadvertently working muscles probably best left alone. It surely doesn’t help that I have anxiety issues, so I already have a problem there as it is!

It mainly started around the time I got the pullup bar. I would thrust my neck forward as I pulled (or ‘chinned’) myself up, not realising it was damaging my neck each and every time. An amateur mistake. My own stupid fault. You don’t think about these things much when you’re so obsessed with improving your own body.

I’m still endeavoring to lose more body fat as I want to get lean, but I don’t look too bad, at least in my eyes. Sometimes I hate looking at myself, feeling as though I look like crap; weak, ugly, and overweight. Other times I look at myself and think I actually look okay, maybe even pretty good.

How do I keep my bad habits in check, if the only person to prevent them is me?

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Decision Making

I truly suck at coming to a decision about something, or do I? With my mind working hard at weighing up every possible odd and end that pops into it, I’m often left in what would seem to be an infinite game of Pong.

Luckily, the to and fro of indecisiveness comes to an end, eventually. Whether that decision is muddied by my OCD and anxiety or not, is absolutely a different matter.

Likely because of my passion for perfection, I try so hard to make the right decision, oh and not just for me! As long as the end-game is just, fair, and honorable, I can sometimes sleep soundly at night.

The urge to do the ‘right’ thing sometimes comes at quite the cost. Maybe I’ve seen too many old-school movies depicting a knight in shining armor the gals keep banging on about.

There’s always a sincere, perfect gentleman with a solid heart and mighty strength who finds a way to be selfless and honorable in any given situation; a man any woman would be proud to stand by. I think to some extent I grew up wanting to be like that. Maybe I just want to be the hero.

Sadly, all I seem to do is repeatedly shoot myself in the foot, so all I can really do is hobble over to a would-be princess and hope she won’t notice my wincing. Oh, what a fine man I’ve become! Eh…

Because I’m so obsessed with being righteous—preferably not in a pretentious, conceited sort of way—I find it so difficult to stick at a decision, especially when that affects somebody else. As a result, I inevitably fuck up. You can’t throw everything up in the air and expect to catch it all. Sometimes you have to let drop, to catch.

Despite my mental health, I wonder if I’d want to change this about myself. I like that I can at least strive to be good; to do the right thing. Sure, I occasionally balls up along the way, but my heart’s in the right place, and that’s what counts, right?

All I can do is hope that the people I hurt in my crusade of nobility can find it in their hearts to forgive me and have faith that what I do (however bizarre it may seem) is for a purpose I find to be good, and not just for me.

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

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