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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Blue Light Can be Bad

Lately I’ve been getting quite proactive about my health. In doing so, I stumbled across something that’s all the rage, these days:

Blue light.

Okay, so we’ve had blue light for a while now, but, as technology becomes more apparent, and many of us humans get further glued to the many screens at our disposal, it’s become apparent that this blue light is a problem.

Assuming I’m understanding the science behind it, when we’re exposed to blue light, it typically suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for helping us to sleep at night. It’s a natural occurrence, as the sun itself produces blue light which of course helps keep us awake during the day.

If you’re like me, you’re on the computer late at night, then go to bed and stare at your phone for a little while, only to wake up and do it all over again! This can mess with our circadian rhythm.

Solution?

Well, aside from switching off your screens, you can install something like the small, free program called f.lux on the PC, or a similar app for your mobile phone. I’ve been trying f.lux tonight and have found it to be very nice on the eyes, although a little strange at first. I’m getting used to it. I don’t feel as alert as I usually would around this time, and it’s only just gone 9pm! I’m usually up at around 4-5am before I go to sleep, these days.

So, I’d recommend giving it a go. You can also lower your display brightness in general, and use dim red lights to help. I’ve even read some comments online that those struggling with insomnia have noticed a big difference using software that reduces blue light.

Good night!

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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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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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Social Anxiety Rant

I’m so fed up of the anxiety and especially the pressure. I’m not a regular person. As I often say, just going to the shops around the corner is a challenge for me. This is me.

There are people who seem to have little to no idea. So many times I say that I can’t do X, Y, or Z, yet they bug me about it anyway. I really hate to say this, but if I were in a wheelchair, people would take one look at me and simply accept when I say I can’t do something.

Higher levels of anxiety can—and for me often do—affect my sleep, my ability to make sensible decisions, areas of my OCD, my depression, my diet, and even toilet time. Particularly high levels can be so overwhelming that the only thing left to do is cry.

After a while, the anxiety causes muscular tension, for which I’ve seen doctors. Hell, sometimes even just communication is difficult at times, because I’m so anxious that I can’t concentrate on what I’m saying or what is being said to me!

There’s a reason I was in supported housing, took medication for years, had therapy, went to OCD support groups, am registered as disabled, don’t work, and have ongoing financial support from the government. It wasn’t for funsies.

I guess they see me moving forward in life as “Oh, he must be OK now!” It’s always an ongoing battle. Every single time I need to step out that front door, I have to push and will myself to do it, even to take out the rubbish.

Before I even go out, I obsess over what I’m wearing, how people will see me, what I’m going to do, who I might speak to, and much more, which sometimes takes a while to get past, but during that time the anxiety rises even more.

I wish those that think they know me best could just go through what I go through on a good day and a bad day, just so they could know exactly why I’m so difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just these people throughout my life. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I have to, because people want things of me, and I have to find a way, otherwise how in the hell am I going to have any sort of social life?

Maybe it’s my fault for trying to look so normal.

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

Thank you Anxiety & Panic Disorders for sharing this.

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Depressive Thoughts

I think it’s important to identify when you’re having depressive thoughts. What do I mean by that? Well, those thoughts one with depression might typically have, such as “I’m useless,” or “I’m worthless,” or “I’m a horrible person,” and so on. I’ve been having a lot of these over the last few days.

It’s OK, because I can’t be strong all the time, right? Well, yeah, but what if this is me really declining? My anxiety issues went progressively nutty for ages, then the OCD went on overdrive making me ill in the process, and now my depression is really ramping up a notch. I don’t like where this is going.

I recognise my decline, but has that changed anything? I suppose it has. I know that if I let myself slip further into this crap, I’ll be even more miserable, and that will also affect those around me, particularly my girlfriend; she has enough on her plate as it is.

I feel selfish. How dare I have problems! In all reality, I can’t help that I’m fucked up; I never asked for this. Still, that said, I feel like I’m being selfish and weak. I’m supposed to be strong. When I met my bit of stuff I was strong, I was fairly focused, and things were looking up! Now? Well, I’m anxious, depressed, withdrawn, disconnected, and really hating myself; not exactly a fantastic catch.

I’m taken over with thoughts that I’m not enough, I’m worthless, that she’s too good for me, that I don’t deserve her, that I’m holding her back, that I’m going nowhere, that I’m a failure, and so on. I hate it. I don’t need these thoughts. What happened to the positivity and strength I had before?

While I can’t give you logical, rational reasons why I’m a such stand-up guy (probably because I’m sat down) I can tell you that I’m going at least somewhere.

I went to an interview-like meeting today in which I saw a guy who’s with Mind. It was interesting, but I was a tad thrown off by his attire which wasn’t exactly formal and professional. The chap was probably dressed more casually than I. That said, maybe they do that to appeal more to people; to make people more comfortable.

I actually felt less at ease with the lack of formality; I’m weird like that. When you have to actually ask someone who’s standing in-front of you waiting, “do you work here?” then perhaps something is amiss.

If you dunno who Mind is, it’s Oxfordshire Mind, a charity-driven organisation that deal with various areas of mental health, within the Oxfordshire area of England; I’ve been in supported housing through them for almost 2 years, which you can read about on this blog, under the Supported Housing category.

I’m able to go to a support group so hopefully that’ll help, or just be awkward and stressful. I’m excited, but also anxious. I’m waiting for a course to start up that is for dealing with emotions. Sounds a bit silly, at least to me, but could very well be handy.

I just hope I can get myself back on the upswing before I go totally bonkers.

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Water Way to Spend the Night

The day before last, I willed myself onto the exercise bike and biked for an hour, without a break, at the 4/8 setting, 8 being the hardest. I was talking verbally to someone on Skype, peddling like a trooper, while they kept me distracted and helped me stay on the damn thing longer.

I tried to keep a speed of around 20-22kmph but the digitial display on my exercise bike is dead, so I had to wing it from memory, using my phone to time it.

I’m amazed I managed an hour. I’m kinda proud, and so I bloody well should be. The last time I biked (a day or two previous) I managed only 25 minutes, with three short breaks at intervals of 10, 10, then 5! How in the world I got from that to an hour non-stop is beyond me.

I must admit, eating a salad just before was a really good move, because I was so raring to go that I felt like I could bike forever! I might have done, were my glutes not so sore, my lower back not aching, and my legs starting to tire around those last 5 minutes.

I had a crap night. I woke up very early (at least for me) and couldn’t get back to sleep for worrying and stressing about crap. Eventually, I gave up trying to sleep and got up properly.

I made a very tasty salad with plenty of chopped up spinach, various other leaves, half a (yellow) bell pepper, a few cherry tomatoes, some cucumber, and some reduced-fat houmous. Feeling pretty good after that! Still tired, though.

I’m trying to get back on track; to continue towards my previous goal of losing body fat and gaining muscle, but first I’m focusing squarely on body fat, this time around.

The funny thing is, I seemed to have been on a subconscious death-wish recently. In that same day I biked for an hour, with the heating on (20c), I, straight after, made a hot bath, ate high-fiber food, then ran around the house cleaning and tidying. Nut case I may well be! It really screwed me up because I did all that with hardly any water and I sweated buckets!

Unsurprisingly, I ended up bedridden for hours as a result of dehydration, with an incredibly unpleasant migraine which evolved into nausea; it was late, so it almost completely ruined my chances of sleep, until the very early hours of the morning. I finally fell asleep, then woke up at around 5am and eventually went to sleep again. Not fun!

So, note to y’all and especially note to self: drink more water, ya eejit!

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I Can’t Weight to Lose It

Christmas is the time to stuff your face full of shite, but what if you’re paranoid how people see you and are obsessed with wanting to look a certain way, to the point at which it prevents you from going out because you’re so ashamed and anxious?

I’m not having a particularly fantastic day. I’m starting to see the damage of all the junk I’ve been eating and it doesn’t feel all that wonderful. To your average bloke, I probably sound like a woman complaining about this crap, but the fact is, there are plenty of guys who freak out about their weight as well; to be more precise, their perceptible percentage of body fat.

I used to be so thin—people would give me comments as to how thin I was. I didn’t have a great deal of muscle back then (not that I’m huge now) but I was thin! If I could only get back to that, somehow, I’d look so, so much better.

I managed to lose quite a lot of weight a while ago, as well as gaining much more muscle mass. As a 6ft male, I went from approximately 220lbs to 168lbs in under a year, and I never stepped one foot into a gym, unless you count my step-mother’s mini-gym. I worked out at home as I almost always have done, and moderated my food intake drastically. I was counting calories and logging my exercise; it was targeted, organised, and focused.

Now I can just about push myself to do a few pullups, pushups, chinups, use my “power-twister” bar, or jump on my exercise bike, but it’s not enough. All I’m doing is maintaining my weight. This is not progress—I’m stuck.

I’ve lost a big chunk of willpower, again, and it’s eating away at me. I even stopped going on those long walks that went on from an hour to almost 6 hours, through towns and villages, up and down hills; they were absolutely fantastic for me.

At some point I’m going to meet this incredible woman I’ve rambled on about lately—yes, she’s someone I’ve unfortunately so far only met on the line—I also want to look and feel good for her. I want to encourage and support her; share with her some of the strength, purpose, and optimism I’ve felt, but how can I do that properly if I’m being a moany hypocrite?

I have plenty enough knowledge and experience so I know what to do, I’m just struggling to bring myself to do it.

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Mind the Supported Housing #2

One of the hardest things about living in this sort of Mind supported housing, at least for me, is living in shared accommodation. If you already have mental health issues that can have a social impact, living in such a place with someone else who also has similar issues may well be a considerable issue!

See my old rant, Living with an Audacious Idiot, if you’re curious as to how frustrating and problematic it can get living with someone with mental health issues. Do note that I’m not saying absolutely everyone with mental health issues is a nightmare to live with!

Living in shared accommodation presents issues whether you have mental health problems or not, I understand that, but when you live with someone potentially unstable, as I have done, it becomes pretty intense, especially if they are driving you so crazy (being rude, disrespectful, argumentative, deceptive, and so on) that you end up losing your temper with them.

Each tenant has a support worker assigned to them, whom they may have to see once a week, which is actually a requirement of the tenancy agreement. Unfortunately, there are plenty of times I haven’t had such a “support session” because a support worker (I’ve now had two assigned to me) hasn’t been available.

I’ve been texted, E-Mailed, and called to tell me that a support worker is stuck in traffic, working elsewhere, or for whatever other reason cannot make it. I’m not sure where this leaves me with regards to the tenancy agreement, but I’ve so far not been booted, so that’s a plus.

Due to the severity of the mental health or other issues (such as drug misuse and alcoholism) that some people in these places may have, the support workers do potentially have a lot on their plate, and there are risks. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people.

The down side of living with someone potentially unstable (the possibly aggressive, abusive sort of people) is that I may have to live with such a person, which can be disconcerting, potentially risky, and counter-productive with regards to the support of one’s mental health and general living.

I’ve heard plenty of scary stories of unstable, unpredictable people who have lived in these places, and attending the interview (mentioned at the beginning of the first post, Mind the Supported Housing) was a considerable and interesting insight.

Due to my experiences and the stories I’ve heard, I’m clear in my opinion that people with socially-challenging kinds of mental health issues should not be packed together in a supportive environment, due to the potential risks involved. If it must happen, I believe there needs to be a new system set in place to ensure nothing malicious or unfair is going on, with regards to the tenants.

As someone with social anxiety and OCD, I struggled to speak up and be clear about the problems I had with my previous flatmate; he was manipulative and frequently tried to intimidate me, but my OCD kept me thinking what if this and what if that, so I couldn’t have a clear thought that, yes, he was in fact being problematic. My uncertainty apparently made it very difficult for the support worker(s) to take the appropriate action.

In the end, despite countless warnings and calm explanations, it actually took me considerably losing my temper with my previous flatmate, the police involved, myself and my parents insisting something be done, and my having to sleep on floors for a month or so before the support workers decided to take action and move me elsewhere; they actually tried to get me to go back and live with the “audacious idiot” after what happened! Had I less control, it could’ve well taken a bleaker turn. Not a good system at all—I was and still am appalled.

Part 3 can be found via this link!

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