The Reoccurring Incident

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I sit in my flat, on my bed where I’ve been for hours. Sometime in the last half an hour, the rain started. With the window open and my flat’s position in the roof, I hear it tapping on the window. One in a long list of things that makes me want to set up camp in my bedsheets.

I am depressed, down, unsettled, unmotivated, unhealthy.

In none of my dreams do I lie in bed all day, but yet, here I am. Same feeling of shame, same efforts to get out, same reasons to get better.

I know by now it’ll pass, that my feelings will change, that I may even be happy for a while. I was a few months ago.

I’ve decided you can only be happy in one of two things;

  • life: Family, friends, relationships
  • Work: Money, job satisfaction.

But only one of those things doesn’t keep my head above water. It’s like a lifejacket that’s only inflated on one side. Yes, there’s enough air to keep you floating, but you could still make a mistake and death isn’t too far away.

These moments are full of low light, dressing gowns, brief moments of smiling and often the overwhelming urge to cry. The guy I’m seeing told me I was the best thing in his life right now last night, an overwhelmingly nice gesture and yes I cried. But then I thought, he’s the best thing in my life right now. More than anything that made me think more about what is in my life right now. It’s not a thought that wasn’t sincere, but the way your mind works when depression comes calling.

What is in my life right now:

  • Him
  • Our dates
  • My mum
  • My friends
  • The odd workshop
  • Brief moments of beautiful creativity.

What isn’t in my life right now:

  • Job security
  • A loving family
  • The ability to travel
  • Satisfaction
  • Interaction with human beings.
  • Challenge

Looking at the lists, it’s easy to solve the equation.

Sending Your CV out + Job Hunting – time in bed + scraping money to see family – being in my own home = Some form of satisfaction  or balance?

* * *

My day:

Wake up, I’m tired, I trawl through Facebook searching blindly for something to satisfy a hunger I can never appease. You need to do some work today. Get up, if at all possible an hour or two after my alarm, eat breakfast with a cup of tea I only ever drink half of and try desperately not to watch YouTube. Watch YouTube until there’s nothing left to see. Feel like an utter failure. Think about what I should be doing in admin or CV sending and get overwhelmed by the scale of it all. Probably nap.

I lose hours doing God knows what, clean the kitchen, tidy my room, eat. I consider doing the work again, If I did I would be on top of one thing. My mind turns to that place of overwhelming fear again. Irrational fear. Uncomfortable fear. Inconsolable fear. I consider buying a desk. I’d do more with a desk. I google, I IKEA, I decide I don’t have the money.

I eat, I let myself watch some YouTube or Netflix, maybe this will cure the insatiable itch for satisfaction. He’s been playing video games, having some time to himself after work and he texts me. For a moment I feel relief. But it’s not sustainable. I persuade him to go back to his games, not to worry about me, even convince him I have been working or sometimes just admit I’m completely unmotivated. Something happens, the time goes by, he rings me, I laugh, appreciate his voice and his sentiment and then I sleep. If I can, for as long as humanly possible, but never through the night.

* * *

The rain is now pouring, letting out the amount of water I would need to cry to feel like I’d got anywhere past this place I’m in. It’s magical and I stand entranced feeling like for a minute it understands where I’m coming from. I return to bed and the anxiety kicks in.

With no one to see this develop and progress every day of your life, it’s easy to get away with. That child-like side of me I perceive ignores her priorities again. Ignores life again for another day.

Everything happens for a reason. 

Attack a Day

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I have put off writing this blog post, but I knew it had to happen, because I want to be honest. It’s now Monday and last Wednesday I had a panic attack. I have not experienced this for a long time and it took me by surprise.

I am beginning to date a guy, I don’t know where it’s going yet, but it’s nice to have someone around. We’d been making fairy cakes using gluten free flour, having a laugh and getting ready to decorate them. I had noticed I started feeling a little tired, out of breath and nauseous, but i didn’t put the three things together. I stood back for a second and watched him take out the cakes from the oven before I had to grab hold of his arm to stop myself from falling. My breathing went from 1-100 in milliseconds. I struggled out a “I can’t breathe” before he realised what was happening. The guy I’m dating has anxiety issues too so when he saw me, he recognised what was happening. I had to sit down and eventually lie down until it passed, around an hour. It was so out of the blue that I was frustrated as I didn’t know why it had happened. My personality melted away, I could hardly speak and putting together sentences was really tough.

The next morning I woke up feeling weak, like it might happen again, but as you know, I am not one to let these things stop me from doing what I need or want to do. A childhood friend who is basically family, had a baby last month and due to illness on their side and mine I haven’t been able to meet her. This was the day I had that chance and I was not going to give it up. It took me longer than usual to get out of the house, I kept checking things and doubting myself. I got to Nottingham, around an hour and 15 minute drive and met the beautiful baby girl. Apart from being emotional and quiet there was nothing to note in the way I showed myself to translate as anxiety to others. I told my friend what had happened the night before, but she was busy looking after the baby and I understood her position. Before long I had to be back in the car, I had keys to pick up, a prescription to collect before the Easter weekend and the Mindfulness course I am now a part of thanks to the NHS.

When I got in the car, it took me 45 minutes to get out of the car park. This was for no other reason than I just wasn’t ready. I spent the entire time pushing something down and before long thought I had done the best I could. I rung my Mum as I had done in the morning in an attempt to have something to focus on. Within metres of the car park I began to lose track of my sentences, I couldn’t find the words and my breathing was becoming hard. I said to Mum that I needed to pull over the car and as I did I fell into floods of tears accompanied by irrational breathing. At this stage I didn’t know what to do, I just had to sit there until the worst passed. I knew the only way it would fully pass was to lie down or sleep, but that just wasn’t possible and I had so much to do at home.

After around 30 minutes I mustered the courage to drive to my friend’s house to take shelter there, luckily she lived minutes from where I’d ended up. As I lay on her sofa she said sympathetically “What do you think was the trigger?” and all I could answer was “I really don’t know”.

Since then I have missed seeing my best friend in London as I just could not leave my bed. I had three days of very little action, but the guy I’m with is very understanding and spent time just chilling with me to make me feel better. Everyday since my chest has been tight, nothing solves it and it feels like I am minutes away from a panic attack at all times. I’ve had to be ‘safe’ in the activities I do just incase one happens and driving became something I was scared to do. I have had another half panic attack, but I was able to catch it and it didn’t take over like the others.

My Mum is screaming from the rafters that I have to go back to the drs, but in all honesty I’m already on medication which was working until now and all he can do is give me some diazepam, 10 of them and that would have to last me a good few months as it’s a controlled drug in the UK. There’s no end game in all of this and that gets to me sometimes.

The Alarm

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I have always talked on this blog about feeling I have two voices in my head, but recently a new one has come along. Now you have to understand, this isn’t anything like schizophrenia, people don’t talk to me and tell me to do things, but they’re the voice you and me hear every day when we make a mistake or do something stupid.

My voices go in this chronological order:

Voice 1:  PANIC: (aka – The Abuser) “What the fuck did you just do? Now let’s think of all the things you did wrong in that and repeat them for eternity. Remember what you did yesterday, that’s pretty similar.”

Voice 2: PROTECTION: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, people will understand, come on keep going.”

Voice 3: LOGIC: “You know there’s nothing wrong with what you just did, here’s other people that did the same thing and they didn’t die…”

It’s an interesting mix of opinion.

 

AN EXAMPLE

My housemate comes out of his room after having showered and murmurs under his breath “Shut that fucking thing up!”. Before walking down stairs and leaving the house.

Context:

  • My housemate is perfectly lovely. He cleans up after himself, is super polite and very apologetic.
  • He did not slam the door or do anything passive aggressively when he left.
  • I’m having trouble waking up at the moment due to my medication so it takes at least 30 minutes of 5 minute intervals of alarms to wake up enough to open my eyes.
  • We have never said a bad word to each other.
  • He owns the house we live in.

Voice 1: He was talking about you, you know. Your alarm has upset him and he won’t want you to live here anymore.

Voice 2: Oh hush, he murmured he didn’t shout, he probably didn’t even mean for you to hear he was just a bit miffed it kept going off.

Voice 3: At the end of the day, you wash the dishes, pay your rent on time and are a super good housemate to have. It’s a tiny event you don’t need to worry about.

Voice 1: The other day, I left my jacket in the lounge, did he think I was messy? Has it all been leading up to this. Is what happened in September going to happen again?

Voice 2: You’re not messy,  if anything you’re obsessively clean right now, you’re allowed to leave things in other rooms in the house, you rent the whole thing remember?

Voice 3: First of all, September was a completely different situation you’re still not able to explain. Second of all, he doesn’t hear your alarm normally because he wakes up before you so really it’s only this once he’s probably heard it. Third of all, not all the people of the UK hate you.

Voice 1: If he wants to shout things like that at my face, what else is he thinking? What does he tell his friends? Fuck I need to move out quicker. I haven’t got a flat confirmed yet, I’m going to be homeless again, vicious fucking circle, you idiot.

Voice 2: Sweet, remember that time he told you, you were annoying him? Remember that time he ignored you or refused to talk to you? No, because they don’t exist you’re not a bad person.

Voice 3: It’s very early in the morning, he’s likely just grumpy, maybe he went out last night and he’s hung over and mad that he has to be up this early in the morning himself. Maybe he was saying it about something else, not your alarm. Just get up and get on with your day at least you’re awake now.

Voice 1: I tried to smuggle the sound under my duvet, I thought that was working, why didn’t it work? Fuck, fuck I’m so stupid.

Voice 2: It did work, but he still heard a bit of it and you’re allowed an alarm.

Voice 3: If he says anything to you about it, which he probably won’t, just apologise and explain how hard it is to get up in the morning. People only become understanding if they know all the facts. Then think about how you can change your alarm to be a little more housemate friendly. Sorted, end of.

Voice 1: But now I have to think about this the entire morning whilst I have a shower and go out and on the drive and during my meetings and….

 

It’s very strange just how easy that was to write to show what goes on in my head. I try so desperately to use my logic voice and 90% of the time she helps me get past incidents like this that are so sooo small in the grand scale of things. When I begin to feel anxious or depressed though, the logic doesn’t come through. The protector however is always there, I feel such a maternal attitude towards my anxious self and my panic voice for the way she feels. I don’t feel like I truly am her at all, but she’s the strongest of the 3 in general, it’s just whether the other two can convince her.

So when you wonder what’s it’s like to suffer with anxiety or depression, think of this conversation I had with myself at 7.30am during just 3 minutes over a comment I wasn’t supposed to hear and probably wasn’t worth the processing. That’s how quick our brains are and that’s how hard it is to put out the fire once it’s started. Sometimes Voice 2 and 3 bow out defeated and the hatred of my own self starts again.

 

Ever experienced this?

She smiled…

…for the first time in a while, she felt herself again.

Why don’t more people take career breaks? It should be something that is pushed, recommended by Drs and Scientists the world over.

I hated having no work, I love to do what I do, but sometimes, I love it too much. The kind of love you feel for someone when you know it’s not right to stay with them, but you’ve committed and you feel like there isn’t another option now. But once I broke away and slowly (and I mean no work for 3 months slowly) built it back up again, I came to realise that work isn’t everything.

I get it, we all think we know this fact, but how often do we live it out? In Hong Kong I existed. In England right now I have hopes and dreams. I’ve accepted a reality that isn’t like many others and I smile, everyday and I wake up happy.

I’m still anxious, in fact a lot more, in new and exciting ways that only anxiety can surprise you with, but being in this state of mind I can deal with it better. I give myself credit for achievements and I think in a different way to before.

As I look around my friends I see these adults, millennials apparently, working their asses off and giving up their life dreams and more importantly their health. Work shouldn’t be everything. The latest theory says millennials don’t work hard enough, that we expect too much. I just think we’re looking at life in a different way. We work hard, damn hard, but we also are looking at a world of high house prices, low employment opportunities and quite frankly terrible politicians. We’re thinking of alternatives and not just doing what’s prescribed.

I know life isn’t going to be rosy forever and they’ll be ups and downs, but I hope that as I continue to add to my workload over the next year, I build it up gradually and keep this positivity and thirst for life.

This New Adventure…

Life has been far from what I thought it would be when I headed back to the UK, but after weeks and now months of returning, I now realise that’s it’s all just one big adventure. I may not be in some far off distant land, but I am still ready for whatever adventure comes my way.

While I still dream of all the places I could have visited, all the money I could have saved, I also remind myself of all the things I didn’t want. The reasons I came back.

It’s been strange readjusting to your own culture, I cried, went into denial and mourned the loss of a country who made me so welcome. I thought I might never see the UK in the same light again. But i was wrong and now it seems it’s all coming back to me and if anything I should be proud of all I achieved there and all I have achieved since then.

Since August I have now managed to get enough work to tide me over, covering my very bare essentials. Yes I have spent a lot of my savings, but with some luck, I will still have some to sit in my bank account. After all, that was what I had planned to spend them on.

The thing I am struggling with at the moment though is motivation. I have ideas, plans and opportunities, but I don’t always use them to the best of my abilities. I have found myself stuck in a rut that my brain desperately wants to get out of and my body just wants to sleep past.

Sleep is an issue. I got blood tests today to see if I had any problems that have caused my ability to almost sleep through the day. If I wanted to I could easily stay in bed all day. It’s a symptom of my looming depression, but after this long could be another problem altogether.

I think the thing I miss most is being able to see friends all the time. There was normally a few people I would meet with during the week who I thoroughly miss and in England it’s so different. People are working so many jobs, so many hours, have partners and it’s a chore to put the time aside to see people.

The biggest realisation though is that I am not on that husband, two children, house in the suburbs, pension, death route. Though my Facebook may be filled with marriages, that’s not me. I need to find a way to sustain myself, I want to be able to own my own home, but not some huge bricks and mortar building, but a little space. My latest thoughts are a narrowboat home, which I’ll design with my friend. The dream would be a tiny house on a little piece of land. I’m researching all the time and I hope I can find something that will help to support it.

I’m starting to think of all the alternatives in my new life. Does having kids require a partner? Does everyone have to have a full time job? When do I stop waiting for this mystic man to come forward? What is it that makes me actually happy? Like ME. Not someone else’s standards, but me? It feels alternative, but really isn’t it just realistic? Couldn’t it just be one more adventure in the time we call life?

Messy Bed.

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Source: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/250723904225104172/ 

I saw an article this week, about a woman suffering with depression who, when it gets bad can’t bare to tidy or clean or care about herself. It’s something so many of us go through though we hesitate to mention it through fear that someone will call us dirty, it’s more than likely happened before.

Yes people can be messy, I can be terrible, but if I’m in the right state of mind, you can see the difference in my surroundings. When I was in Hong Kong I wrote a poem in an attempt to write down my feelings about this exact subject and then I never posted it, perhaps in fear of judgement. I want it to now compliment the article I saw and support those who feel they lose control of their surroundings when things get dark.

No matter who we are, sometimes we just become overwhelmed.

 

The Girl

The girl who has the world upon her shoulders,

everyday she cannot help but feel the strain,

She sits alone between the dishes unwashed,

the floors unswept and the washing pile rising.

As she walks across the room she is followed

by the cats who gave her love when none would.

She dreams of all the dreams that could have happened,

all the thoughts that filled her mind with such bliss.

All the destinations, unmade plans and expectations

A distant memory from the days when she was young.

She naps each day to fill the time between the known,

The unknown rearing it’s head like an almighty beast.

Her bed has become her eternal fortress

A habitat of white sheets and the smell of home.

As she lies she moves her eyes towards the window,

hearing the bird sing and the children shout.

One day it won’t be like this she wishes to herself

one day it will different but for now

life goes on.

 

The article: http://aplus.com/a/depression-sufferers-bedroom-pics 

 

A Letter to Myself.

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Dear N,

Remember who you were in Hong Kong. Remember that confident and resilient woman you were. Remember the friends you made and the people you now cherish.

I know England is hard for you right now, because life has become hard for you right now. There’s a certain way you used to be in Birmingham which effects who you are right now. But that’s the old you, that’s not who you’ve become. Embrace England with a fiery passion in your belly and a kind spirit.

Noone knows your personality like you do. You’re hilarious, witty (sometimes) and altogether kind. Remember that. Be that person you want to be, smile at strangers, be kind to the people around you and live life to the fullest. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in or who’s around you. Do this next step for you. Make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt and love yourself ever the more for it.

Remember people don’t know what you’re thinking. Ask for help when you need it and take notice of what’s going on around you. Be the strongest you, you want to be.

You know you don’t always love yourself. In fact often it’s quite the opposite, but the only way you can get through this is to be true to yourself. Use everything you learnt and be the traveller N. Right now there’s not much difference between you and her. Take that as an opportunity.

It won’t always be easy to read this letter without crying your eyes out or wishing you didn’t exist, but remember it’s always here. To care for you on the dark days and lift your spirits on the bright ones.

You need a new start and that all happens with you. Sit and write those applications and tell them everything you love about yourself, about how when you’re working with Young People you can’t think of anything else you want to do in your life. They make you happy, they give you life and without them you don’t have that. So get it.

Now, stop reading and get on with your life. Live it, to the full.

Best wishes,

N