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!’

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The Bounceback

Hemorrhoids suck. For years I’ve had this horrible hemorrhoid. Well, it was horrible, but the majority of the time, it was manageable, so I sort of got used to it. Unfortunately it recently got worse, much worse. I decided to binge on pizza, eating disgusting amounts of it, thanks to my body craving carbs one sleep-deprived day.

The result? Tearing out my innards during a rather unpleasant bowel movement. I, however, was completely oblivious to what was to come. A couple of weeks later, and I’m okay again, having done unspeakable things to my arsehole. Not recommended!

Moral of the story? Leave the fucking pizza alone.

But that’s not what this entry’s about. As the title might suggest, I’ve somewhat bounced back. I think the aforementioned ordeal sort of told me I needed to sort my shit out. It’s not like I was doing too terribly, I was still cleaning, cooking, eating, and being productive.

The problem was that I was– am being so damn mediocre about it all. I am trying, but at the crux of it all, I’m more depressed than the keys on this keyboard.

I think I’ve gradually been getting better, though. I’m cooking more, cleaning more, eating better, and keeping very busy with programming and various Linux things. Still, it doesn’t seem to be enough. Still feels like I’m wading through an ocean of thick, chest-high mud.

Things have been difficult with the relationship. It’s not that we don’t love each other and all that jazz, it’s just that relationships are hard. Anybody who disagrees is either in the honeymoon phase or is a lucky fuckface who has everything go their way! But, here in the real world, things aren’t perfect.

I’m very in-love with my woman, though. She makes me happy. I seem to make her happy. It’s just understanding and working around our mental health situation that makes things difficult. Granted, my earlier fuckface statement may not apply to “normal” people. The distance is hard too, but I’m hoping that will be removed when Xmas comes around, as that’s the time we’ll hopefully finally meet.

We may not have yet physically met, but I feel so comfortable with her in my life, that it’s almost as though she’s already here. She’s the one for me, that’s for sure. We’re practically made for each other. It’s just getting all the other bits and pieces into place.

In other news, my dad broke his leg. He’d just recovered (mostly) from his hernia operation, was finally able to get out and do normal things, then he hits the deck because of his ankle giving out.

Bit scary how easily and quickly shit can go awry.

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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Am I Needy?

According to an online dictionary, to be needy is classed as “needing emotional support; insecure.” I suppose to figure this out I’d have to ask myself whether I’m insecure. The answer is of course a resounding yes. Am I needing emotional support? I guess I am. Does that really make me needy though?

I’ve felt pretty depressed today. I feel alone. Apparently I don’t matter; this, according to what is very likely my depression brought on by both recent events and my shiny new older age, in much contrast to yesterday’s more positive entry.

When my, I guess you could say ex—to whom I’m still strongly connected and with whom there may still be some hope for the future—hung up on Skype to go hang out with her fairly new female friend again, I felt sadness. According to my brain, she’s pushing me out, I’m in the way, and she doesn’t care about me anymore. It’s a really saddening thought process I’m having about those close to me that I can’t shift lately.

So, I went online to seek some sort of comfort with other people like myself who have problems, and got talking to some friendly familiar faces. I felt a little better, but still I was missing something.

When I called my dad, we chatted for a while, I tried to say I wasn’t feeling good, but it didn’t really come out well, because I’m not good at verbally saying these things. We brushed on a serious topic or two, joked about silly crap, then he had to go do stuff, so that was that. I felt alone again, like I’m not important; I don’t matter; I’m worthless.

Maybe that makes me needy?

I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a needy person. If anything, I have the opposite problem sometimes, in that I often want to isolate myself, whether for good or bad.

I feel like I’ve failed everyone. I’ve failed society, I’ve failed my parents, I’ve failed my friends, I’ve failed those with whom I’ve been romantically involved, and for sure I’ve failed myself a number of times.

I know this is just depression, or at least I hope that’s all it is. Still, it doesn’t change how I think and feel, because ultimately, I have let people down a number of times. I have failed. The sad thing is I will continue to fail, because that’s just what happens in life.

At the end of the day, all I can do is hope the successes will outweigh my failures.

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30 Years Old

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was an awesome one, but I was dreading it. It marked 30 years feeling like I’ve accomplished so little—I honestly thought I’d have done more with my life at this point.

I don’t feel too much like it’s all my fault for being this and that; it’s not. I can’t help having mental health problems. This is how I am and I’ve had to make the most of it, as do we all. It just sucks, that’s all.

It’s not all bad.

On the bright side, I have accomplished some things too, even if the majority of that is personal growth; learning about the world, people, and of course myself. I also worked a lot on my mental health, passed a part-time college course, sorted my finances, lived in supported housing for about 2 years, and eventually got a place of my own.

The last 10 years have admittedly been a clusterfuck, but I’m hoping the next decade will hold some awesome new experiences and life lessons.

In some ways, I certainly feel stronger.

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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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