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!’

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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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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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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Mind the Supported Housing #6

I thought I was done with this crap, but apparently Mind insist on making things difficult. A few days ago, I was called up by my support worker and told that someone would be staying with me for a couple of weeks, as per an emergency with his flat being flooded; it sucks, but fair enough.

The guy comes over, the sort that makes you think “one of those guys”, with his try-hard outfit you’d expect from a skaterboi. I persevered, especially when my support worker told my dad and me that he was only to stay for one day, after which he’s staying with his grandparents or something.

The guy left the next morning, and that was the end of that; I was relieved. I’ve been getting used to living alone and enjoying the benefits, particularly not having to worry about some other guy’s mess, and the privacy is a huge bonus.

I get woken up at approximately ten in the morning by my support worker relentlessly knocking on my front door. I sleepily get dressed, having had less than six hours sleep because I struggle at night and have been staying up late for reasons probably mentioned elsewhere. She is fully aware that I struggle in this way.

My support worker was just “passing by” and thought to quickly ask me whether the new guy left OK, whether things were alright, and that’s all I really remember because I was half asleep, anxious, and irritated for being woken up by loud banging noises echoing through the flat.

I’m having a nice late-night conversation with woman over Skype, when, midnight, someone opens the front door and the other bedroom door with the keys. I didn’t know for sure who it was; for all I knew, it could’ve been someone who got a hold of the keys and was trying to swipe stuff.

I was immediately anxious, got dressed, and went through to see who it was. Although I never saw the person, I could smell the cigarette smoke and figured it was probably just the same guy, and that my support worker screwed up again—ding, ding, ding!

I told my dad the next morning; he was worried and called a nearby Mind office. I texted my support worker, and later got a call from another woman, also a support worker, who apologised and explained that it isn’t what they would “usually do” but given the circumstance, it’s only going to be temporary.

I thought, OK, so the guy has, up until now, been clean and relatively quiet, despite waking me up twice at quarter-to-seven in the morning, which, for me, is insanely early.

He left the hall light and kitchen light on for hours last night. I left the lights be thinking he was maybe in the kitchen, but later on I went through and he wasn’t there. I turned the lights off—he must’ve fallen asleep.

In the kitchen? Crumbs over the cooker top, a dirty, empty tin on the worktop by the bin, as opposed to simply in the sodding bin, and a used bowl and glass left in the sink. Am I meant to clean up his mess? Disrespectful. He has to clean up after himself just as I do—I’m not his daddy.

I sent my support worker a text earlier, ‘though I expect it’ll go largely unnoticed: “he left mess last night, then buggered off out this morning,” then I explained what he left behind, and continued, “am I to clean up after him?” No reply yet, but we’ll see.

I’m sick of supported housing, I’m sick of flatmates, and I sincerely miss having an actual home. I’m getting heart-palpitations just typing this out.

Part 7 can be found via this link!

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Seek and Destroy

Spend years being miserable and alone, behind bars with tall walls guarding you. Be full with regrets and insecurities. At long last, find something that makes you smile. Now piss all over it.

Welcome to my world—cue the countdown to a post-apocolyptic mess.

I self-sabotage when I get close to being happy and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t deserve happiness. Maybe part of me wants to be alone, because it’s easy and safe.

OCD likes to kick me in the nuts every once in a while. My issues with anxiety results in panic over things not even relevant. On your marks, get set, ruminate!

Sometimes I wish I were blasé all the time; not giving a damn about anything and just going with the flow, dealing with each second as it ticks on by.

I don’t think I set out to sabotage things, but it seems to happen anyway. I can even recognise it now—go me. I wish, for once, I could just not care and get on with it, be however the hell I’m meant to be, for my own sake and for others.

I thought I’d become stronger, but maybe I was just hiding from everything; that’s not strength. I’m a coward?

Maybe I just need time to adjust to her giving a damn, and my—God help us all—really connecting with another human again. After all, it’s still very early days.

Do you push people away, especially on a romantic level, when they get close? When things get freaky, do you panic and feel the urge to bail?

Sometimes I want to run away to simplicity and predictability; familiarity. I don’t like the unknown; I don’t know it. Does it change how I feel about someone or something? Ultimately, no.

I could want to step outisde to do the rain dance so very badly, but if my brain tells me it’s scary, that rain might hurt, and it might not work, then I’m going to be full of doubts, so hello apprehension; is that normal?

Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts and feelings (particularly those relevant to this post) aren’t quite as unique and messed-up as I tend to believe; perhaps they’re just intensified by the OCD and circulated because of the resulting anxiety—it only takes one thought.

I’m so tired. Don’t even get me started on why my brain melts down at night. Why is it when the sun goes down, that’s when my brain rises more than ever? Well, I’ll tell you: it’s typically when I go to bed, left with my stupid thoughts taunting me.

Every once in a while, I need to escape my brain. Even prisoners get a small taste of freedom in the recreation room; perhaps a chance at peace from shivs, broken bones, and bruises.

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

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Stop over-thinking!

Why is it so hard for some people to have a clear thought without it forking out towards undesired territories?

I’m used to meticulously thinking things through because of OCD, and this has been the way since I was a kid; I ruminate a lot as per the compulsion. Unfortunately, this means that I struggle a lot to just have a straight-up thought that doesn’t lead to something depressing, distressing, and/or aggravating.

“Stop worrying so much” – if only it were that simple.

Association. We might think of red and then be led to danger or passion. I think most of our thoughts work like this, as our brains are often assessing and problem-solving, but some of us, like me, can’t help but to get carried away. I give things meaning that I shouldn’t, and pursue thoughts best left well alone.

Think of OCD-style over-thinking like the Internet: there are links littered everywhere, but most people simply click those that apply to them at that given moment. Myself, however, I like to click every link I come across, being led to all sorts of bleak places until my browser history makes even the most morbidly curious person blush.

Genital enlargement? Sure, I’ll click that. Disturbing videos? Right on, bring it. Articles about death, disease, and misery? Yes please! Strange analgoy, but welcome to my brain; it’s volatile.

One such example, is when I’ve been in relationships in which I would have an obsession with the question of whether I really loved her. This lead to my ruminating over the question, ultimately leading to the what if, which in this case, is what if I didn’t?

There are a great many what ifs I’ve asked myself over the years.

What if I’m [thing]?
What if I did [thing]?
What if I didn’t do [thing]?
What if I were capable of doing [thing]?
What if they [thing]?

It’s a muddled bundle of gibberish I know I shouldn’t entertain, but they’re at the forefront of my mind and it takes so much energy to get them to fuck right off. There’s the thing: you shouldn’t fight these thoughts. I’m told I should accept them and move on, and I know that makes sense—giving the thoughts so much attention serves to perpetuate the obsession—but it’s something that takes a lot of work.

Although over-thinking can be a perfectly normal-person thing to experience, it’s something people with certain forms of OCD might experience very, very frequently. Intrusive thoughts come to mind—excuse the pun.

It’s frustrating, though. When you’re close to someone, then you’re suddenly hit with a thought, however ridiculous or unlikely, it stresses you out. What if you’re so close to the person that you’re used to being honest and open, then they query you; do you tell them what you’re thinking when they enquire as to why you’re so anxious or distracted?

What if your thoughts could be a catalyst for your partner’s insecurities? Is your purposefully holding back information from him or her an immoral, deceptive act? Are you lying to them? Maybe you’re lying to yourself.

So many questions and no answers, so you ponder some more; still left fumbling in the dark without a nice bright solution.

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

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Sometimes I Just Feel Depressed

…and I don’t know why.

Throughout parts of the day, I’ve just felt heavy and lost. Something is missing.

My flatmate and friend technically moved out today, although he has about 3 weeks to get the new place sorted, and he’s got a lot on his plate because of that.

I felt like I had some stability but once again things get flipped, turned upside down. It’s just a matter of time before someone new moves in. I’m sick of feeling like everything is just temporary; I miss having a home.

The anxiety is driving me crazy. I’m so sick of having to contend with my own bullshit fears every single time I step out of the front door. What am I so scared of?

I’m feeling stuck again and I don’t like it.

I read somewhere that you shouldn’t talk about yourself in a blog, because people apparently “don’t care about you.” I never intended to talk about myself in this diary-like manner when I started blogging, but here we are.

These late nights are taking their toll—it’s 4am, yet again, and so I’m off to bed.

A thank you to the Facebook page Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this blog entry.

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OCD, Anxiety, and Intrusive Thoughts – A Brief Overview

You have a thought, as we all do, and it’s nothing in particular, just a thought that perhaps your brain insists on having, which could probably be linked to a mechanism of survival; self-preservation. Most people have these thoughts and just ignore them, particularly those that don’t apply because, for example, they’re irrational. Unfortunately, some of us pin rather a lot of meaning onto these random thoughts, such as myself. A trigger typically comes in the form of the 5 standard senses, such as smell, sight, or sound. For example, you hear a sound that reminds you of a horrible event in your life or challenges a core belief, your anxiety is triggered, adrenalin is released, and so you act on or flee from it, as per the fight or flight response.

If you want a personal example of the mechanics of OCD at work, check out this popular entry titled Health Anxiety is a Relentless Bitch, where I go on to explain a rather unpleasant evening thanks to my health anxiety being triggered. Health anxiety works in a similar way to OCD, because you have a trigger or obsession and its compulsion.

In the case of an intrusive thought, it triggers anxiety, at which point it becomes a thing, essentially jumping from the background to the foreground. One such response of an intrusive thought, is what we call ruminating, which would be the compulsion, but there are also other common ways to act, such as to compulsively clean.

Something called magical thinking can apply here, if you feel something bad will happen if you don’t do something; in this case, you would have the obsession, such as fearing someone you care about will die. Something triggers the obsession, such as hearing about a death, your response is to then compulsively begin an action (be it mental, such as rumination, or physical, such as cleaning) just in-case something bad happens to the person.

I suppose, with OCD in mind, you could also call avoidance a compulsion, so if your response is to flee, such as to actively avoid something triggering, you could probably refer to that as a compulsive response to an obsession or trigger.

I should probably point out that OCD is far more than just washing your hands thoroughly, and in-fact, many people with OCD don’t even have this need to wash their hands repeatedly, as the media would lead you to believe. It actually really, really annoys me when people think someone with OCD is always super clean and washes their hands excessively. You might as well assume everyone in a wheelchair has no legs—there are surely many reasons why someone might end up in a wheelchair, such as a spinal injury.

Let’s assume you have OCD. I would tell myself and anyone else with this disorder, that OCD, or indeed intrusive thoughts, is like a dog at your dinner table pining for scraps. Eventually, if you continue to give the dog zero attention in such a situation, it will give up and wonder off, finally learning that you just don’t care to feed it at the dinner table. However, if you give the dog food, you’ll only prompt it to come over and nag you the next time, and the next time, and the next time, until you’ve got no food left.

If you really think you might have OCD, I would speak to your doctor about it and see if you can be referred to a psychiatrist who should be able to diagnose you. OCD and anxiety are commonly linked, so if you’ve been written off as just having anxiety problems, consider that there could be more going on which you’ve yet to uncover. Finding more answers means finding more ways to get help, which ultimately results in a better quality of life.

The topic of OCD, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts is quite vast, so, without spending countless hours on this entry, boring you with walls of text, I thought it best to stick with a brief overview. However, if you have any questions, please feel free to place them in the comment section below, or contact me via TwT’s E-Mail address found here, or send me a private message via TwT’s Twitter page.

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Women don’t want a man with mental health problems, right?

It’s 1:23am, I’m tired, and I’m on my own. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great sides to being single, at least there would be were I not plagued by stupid mental health bullcrap that has no business being in my head.

I’m a guy. I like women. I wanna be out there exploring, or, better yet, exploring with one woman who is my own—totally not in a creepy possessive way—rather than feeling imprisoned inside my own head, and most of the time stuck indoors, typically with sod all to do except the same damn two things I’ve been doing for years, ever since I were a lad: guitar and computer.

OK, OK… so it’s not all bad. I can teach myself German, connect with people across the globe, get advice about obscure or embarrassing things, and totally not occasionally peruse certain dopamine-releasing websites.

I’ve started this suggesting it’s about the physical stuff. Sure, I miss the physical stuff. But it’s not just that sort of stuff that I miss, it’s the closeness, the passion, the love; all that gooey stuff women go mental over in bloody, terrifying horror romantic movies, like Ghost and Dirty Dancing, both of which I’ve willingly actually seen, as in, without a gun to my head.

No, what I’m talking about is primarily the companionship; the kind of nearness you can’t get from another bloke, unless of course you’re wired that way, which I’m firmly not. I’ve been single for a few years now, but I do remember quite clearly how great it feels to have someone there. I miss the feeling of hope, strength, and purpose.

But I’m “disabled.” I don’t work as a result, and have no idea when or perhaps even if that’s going to be a proper thing that I can realistically, consistently actually do. I’ve never had an official job, only cash-in-hand type jobs that I somehow was able to do some millenia ago, oh and volunteer work a couple of years ago, which sadly did not last too long.

My point? I think it’s common for a man to measure his worth based on how much money he makes, so what happens when a man makes no money but instead relies on the income luckily provided to him by his government? How much am I worth, now? A woman wants security. Money offers security. Sure, I can clobber some robber’s head with an assortment of workout equipment, or just go it alone with lefty and righty, but I can’t go around beating up the council when they demand rent, or my ISP, when they decide they want their money; apparently it’s illegal.

I’m told it doesn’t matter how much money a man makes, but the older I get, the more I feel it truly does matter. A woman doesn’t want to provide for the man, and fair play to them—I get it—but what happens to someone like me? I suppose I should be grateful that I do have money, and I wouldn’t say I’m poor either, but none-the-less, I do not have a job, and my income is only through benefits, therefore, my desirability seems to sink to the deepest depths of something really deep.

I know there are situations in which two people might find each other and see past all this bullshit, but I find this a rare occurrence, particularly for the man. For some reason, it seems OK for the woman to be disabled by mental health problems, but the man gets overlooked. I’m sure I’m entirely wrong but this is an assumption based on an observation of the many single males with mental health issues, and the many taken women with mental health issues. I apologise for my pessimistic side looming over me, tonight.

Is this all in my head?

Truthfully, there are so, so many reasons why mental health problems are, well, a problem for relationships. There is, however, that one woman out there who gets it. That one woman is patient, understanding, and perhaps even has a little experience of such problems herself. That one woman still would love me for me, despite my downfalls that I never fucking asked for.

I did not ask to be disabled by this crap. This was not my choice. I have worked bloody hard to make the best of what I have, as little as that might seem to a normal person.

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