The funny thing about depression and anxiety…

 

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is that they both tend to marginally (marginally being the word of note here) lift by the evening, giving you a window of opportunity to tell yourself to do better tomorrow, talk better tomorrow, get up and be productive tomorrow, get in contact with people tomorrow, go to the supermarket tomorrow to re-stock your fridge that currently contains a mouldy banana… a cucumber and that is all.

Alas! Tomorrow arrives with all of its sunshine, blue skies, fluffy cotton wool clouds… But you, dear human, are back in despair: still can’t do better, talk like shit or not at all, and don’t get out of bed.

Then evening swings by with its moon, stars and rainfall, and you can hold a conversation over the phone, brush your teeth and make a drink… perhaps. You still feel anxious and depressed, though it’s all slightly less loud.
The process of rebuilding like this on a daily basis is exhausting and when in the throes of it, sometimes there is no way to fight the b******.

But, I ask, is there anything that can be done other than riding the wave until it calms to the point you aren’t choking or drowning in each moment of the day?

Maybe just knowing that by the time evening comes around you may (or may not) be feeling slightly better? Even if only a small improvement is felt, that is still something: and the smallest of gains are what must be held on to when you are stuck in a place that has you swamped with hopelessness and negative emotion. Hang on to the tiny windowsills of okay-ness… Please.

The last little while I have resented myself for living off takeaways, cola bottles, rainbow bites, cucumber, and Dr Pepper, but that’s how I’m surviving. As well as avoiding the waves of the ocean, that may either choke and/or drown me.

I haven’t let go of the resentment I feel for filling my body with nastiness but what good is that resentment doing for me? Point is, be aware and don’t hate yourself, or try as best you can not to.

It’s tough. Really tough to say the least. And it’s real. Really painfully REAL but we have made it through another day, existing on this peculiar and uncomfortable earth that is sometimes bearable. All right even. Maybe. Just not right now.

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A quick-snap ode to turkey mince.

I have consumed turkey mince for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days this week. I think my only break was on Tuesday when an absolutely gorgeous friend came over to keep me company. Some sort of salmon dish was rustled up and the change certainly went down well…

I have been feeling shit! In the doldrums, flat, vacant, soulless… whatever and turkey mince has honestly prevented me from passing out from not eating.

So. If you’re ever feeling a bit low and have barely any motivation to cook, chuck some turkey mince (I guess it doesn’t even have to be from a turkey) courgette, fresh ginger, coriander, spinach, bean sprouts and tomatoes in a pan and fry!

I lose all creativity/spontaneity during a bad spell (hence turkey mince takeover) but this meal is beautifully basic, so good for you, very satisfying, and more than okay to eat on repeat.

Variety is the spice of life so perhaps I do need to broaden my moody recipe horizons, though for now… Turkey mince, you continue to serve me well. Cheers, and see you sizzling in my bowl in the morning…………………..

Short intro to new little poem

Just a quick one to kick things off as I need to get back into the swing of writing, and it’s been absolutely ages since I’ve posted anything on this old blog of mine. So I’m going to share a short poem I wrote recently. I will never tire of this topic or the fact that mental health features in our lives on a daily basis – for better or worse – and this piece is just about those times when you feel too crap to move: meaning the only option available is to chuck your dinner on the floor… because, well… the kitchen-sink is too far away. Obviously. It’s groundbreaking I know.

Hell, you don’t even need to be experiencing a period of mental ill-health to feel a bit shit and stagnant, so fingers crossed it resonates if you’re taking the time to read this.

It’s hopefully a bit funny… while inadvertently highlighting that no, I am not vegan >> Just to clear things up, as I am asked this question about three times per week by friends, co-workers and strangers alike. Not that there’s anything wrong with being vegan. I think it’s great, just don’t want to be deceiving anybody now do we 😐 POEM:

Chicken Bones
Sometimes I throw chicken bones onto my yoga mat:
Reserved – this act – for when I have decided I am
Appropriately mad enough for this to be normal,
And don’t work well enough to clean, or let the stench
From strings of rotting flesh be a problem for me.

 

Bones and dried skin gather, concealing the turquoise
Adidas logo patch stamped down in the far-right corner.
Grease settles sticky in finger grooves while I lay motionless on the sofa:
Until lethargy lifts long enough for me to let somebody in –
Somebody who takes pity on me and scrapes the bones into the bin.

 

Well… I think: There are worse things
And at least I’m still eating.

Worth all the crap.

I used to pluck my eyebrows till there was barely any brow to bare, straighten my hair three times a day so it was singed, broken and never growing, wear makeup so thick it was like I had another 5 layers of skin, spend two hours getting ready to go out only to still feel painfully insecure, not speak up because I felt too ashamed of my opinions, accept the fact that I was ugly, thick and boring.
I wouldn’t leave the house, listen to music, speak or do anything for the longest time. It’s very sad but sometimes we see and believe things about ourselves that couldn’t be further from reality.
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These days, I don’t pluck or straighten at all, wear bare skin on my face each day, (makeup just when I fancy) feel great going out in a completely casual unplanned outfit and say whatever’s on my mind… because I know I have positively provoking ideas and support to provide. I leave the house everyday with genuine energy for time to work its magic in the moments it gives.
Like all of us, I’m still a work in progress, but it’s so much better this way. I’m happier with nothing to hide because quite simply I’m being myself the majority of the time – not trying or wanting to be any other way.
It’s been tricky and as they have done previously, trips will surely have me stumble again throughout this navigation of being alive… but it feels a damn sight better when all the crap becomes worth it; gifting you with a gorgeous bunch of love, acceptance, pain, naked skin, bushy brows and a spirit of fiery tenacity that will only keep burning.

Jenga Blocks

I don’t know how many times I can rebuild my life:

believe wholeheartedly I’m going to be fine

only to tumble quickly.

Down. Down.

Down.

 

I am precarious as Jenga blocks.

Small hope fistfuls weary with

each flailing unlearned leap or

plunge. Weeks, months, years

of my life now spent picking

myself up. It also gets pretty

tiring letting people down.

 

Though when walking the fine rope

between glory and despair,

one can only remain there

and go on trying to seek balance.

The last three months and my 24th anniversary

01/04: Happy April Fool’s! But also Happy 24th Birthday to me. It’s been a strange one.

First, let me begin with the last three months: to cut a long story short, I became sick in January with depressive symptoms. Yet again.

A trudge of a journey through a sludgy, sloppy, shitty thick swamp would follow. Tripping up and gurgling silently to forever sleep certainly felt like a pleasanter option than pressing on. Pressing on into deeper depths that possibly could lead to further claustrophobic discomfort. No thanks… but no other options so OKAY!! I WILL KEEP WADING. Tears streaming.

Having to wade through the swamp went on until the beginning of March when I finally started to pick up. I believed this was due to a combination of perseverance and a new anti-depressant – Lofepramine – which it probably was..? (in an earlier post I reference different medications I’ve tried so far if you are interested).

I picked up pretty rapidly, and pretty drastically. It felt wonderful to be alive and so completely opposing to my former self stuck in permanent slump. I was incredibly sociable, quick-witted, intensely able to concentrate, positive, confident, great at my job, great at cooking, brilliant at multi-tasking, cleaning, making exciting plans… everything was A BREEZE and kind of just happened without me having to really think about it at all. I’d had my batteries fully charged up the max. It was a radical turnaround. I thought I was cured.

Then on Sunday 27th March I crashed. All of that wholesome goodness was gone. I swear I could feel the swamp gurgling up my ribcage and slowly stifling my brain again. Nononono. It was a horrible feeling and one I tried to dismiss – I’m just overthinking things, it’ll pass. Don’t allow this to overcome you. But I’m sorry to say it has returned and is with me now.

I have been told by professionals what I experience is likely to be Bipolar Type II. After doing a hell of a lot of reading, I am inclined to agree. I think what is most distressing about this… disorder, is that sufferers go from feeling superhuman to being barely able to pick up the phone or read… or just do the most basic of tasks. Life stops making sense and you feel stupid, slowed down, exhausted. It’s like losing all of your skill in a moment and having to seriously focus just to get dressed properly or walk down the street. The brain fog that comes with it is also grotesquely hard to manage. Conversation is just… not going to happen.

Theory behind why this particular “episode” occurred? A psychiatrist prescribed me anti-depressants even after he himself told me that anti-depressants can induce something called hypomania in individuals with Bipolar Type 2. If you Google this, you will also find hefty amounts of info/data/research to suggest the same.

This same psychiatrist also put me on 25mg of Quetiapine, about which he stated “at such a low dose will only act as a sleep aid and not a mood stabiliser”… In my opinion (and I am by no means somebody with academic knowledge on pharmaceuticals) I was essentially just taking anti-depressants, and believe the elevated mood I experienced most recently was indeed hypomania.

This has happened after I’ve taken anti-depressants before and it’s so hard to recognise because to me, it feels sublime and I don’t tend to do anything too rash – merely seem in very good spirits. A break from the terror and emptiness is just… there are no words. Divine? The problem is though, it just does not last, and going from feeling that good to “knowing” life is not worth living with no real trigger… is absolutely devastating.

I’m pretty frustrated at my trial and error experience with professionals and medication. I don’t see why this had to happen again. It seems very obvious that I have a history of anti-depressants sending me feeling very good only for this to be short-lived, followed by a major crash. It makes sense to me that a mood stabiliser should have been the first port of call on this occasion, but what do I know.

So what now? I posted a status on Facebook the other day –

The lemons of life aye. Just got to keep on lemonin on.

And that’s how it feels. All I can do is keep trying and keep hoping. There are no guarantees with mental health. At times I want to give up because I’m so tired and upset at how difficult it is to find the energy… but I feel I owe it to myself and the brave tom-boy child I used to be. Never fearful, always inquisitive, always bold and so eager to live. I also owe it to the future me who is waiting to exist happy with full, wholesome healthy wellness. I don’t know if I will ever be free of this, and it feels like my journey to fight the good fight is only just beginning.

There is much hope though: I have wonderful people in my life who make me feel loved. People who don’t give up on me. People who think I’m incredible and capable of achieving so much. This keeps me going and there are horrible moments where I don’t feel capable of anything at all and question why anybody even gives me their time of day. I have to accept it’s not my fault or something I can control: my brain is doing this to me. My brain is sick but I can, I will and I must keep going and talking about this; exploring what works and what doesn’t. I believe I/we/you/anybody fighting can get there eventually.

 

 

Aqua Fit – Why I love Sunday Mornings

A bit of preamble: This is the first draft of a poem I wrote after doing a gig that centred around International Women’s Day. I’m not a feminist, I just believe in equality and human rights. I actually often think that feminism can tip into being anti-men which I certainly am not. People are people, we are all human beings and blah blah. The gig got me thinking about areas in my life where I feel unified with women.

I didn’t want to do the standard “mother’s are amazing” or “men can make women feel like objects” poem. I wanted to challenge myself and explore something that could be a bit lighter while also portraying strength<< not the right word but hey. And also something I’ve not really considered before.

Anyway! I wrote this poem because I go to an Aqua Fit class every Sunday. Initially, attending helped with my depression and anxiety because it got me being around people in a fairly safe environment where socialising wasn’t imperative: you can turn up, not speak to anybody, do your thing and leave.

I soon realised that 9.6 times out of ten, the class was 100% women. I guess a reduction in depression and anxiety was empowering in itself, but the fact that I was surrounded by women all the while seemed to make the scene even more relevant to the whole “International Women’s Day” theme.

One thing I’ll mention as a little heads up, is that I’ve lost some weight recently. I lose my appetite when I’m unhappy or anxious so it just falls off me. Life has taken a very positive turn so pounds are hitting up this bod again (currently shovelling popcorn and home-baked gluten-free cookies as I type).

It’s just that I felt ashamed of being slim whenever I went to the class. I still do. Hard to explain but I hate people thinking I have an ego. I’m fairly familiar with people stealing glances and avoiding starting conversations. I am a nice person I promise!! I don’t know if that resonates with anybody but I’ll be quiet now and let whatever small audience this reaches read my poem! (It’s also written with performance in mind because that’s what I do!). Jeez, enough disclaimers now.

 

Ciao and enjoy!

 

Aqua Fit – Why I love Sunday Mornings

 

 

Toned and taught body on show in new snazzy swimming costume: I feel naked.

A cluster of human beings – exclusively the female kind – huddles by the poolside.

I am self-conscious, as everybody knows someone except for me,

Even though my face is a familiar one in this place now.

People avoid me much of the time.

 

No one to distract, toned and taught body on show,

I feel naked and to be fair I practically am.

I am ashamed of my shape though: sure they all think

I’m a narcissist and want to thrust it in their faces.

I hide in a cubicle sometimes, until they’re all submerged and the class has started.

 

Once in the water though, I feel invisible.

I may as well have become liquid myself

In the most positive way possible: Nowhere near

anything like how an emotionally abusive partner

might dismiss their other half

making them feel insignificant with inflicted ugliness. No.

 

Once in the water I feel a unity so strong between myself

and the other women: whether large with skin like pummelled oranges

Or old with grey hair turning charcoal

beneath the cobalt chlorine tub. We’re just a mass.

 

Who bounce, bob and buckle our bodies to music.

Foam noodles between our thighs sometimes. The main aim:

To burn calories. But a lot of the time we laugh at our shapes

squabbling against gravity, losing the battle and plunging.

Mouths choking on water, nostrils retaliating as if some dickhead

sprayed Domestos up them.

 

5, 6, 7, 8 the instructor says. As our legs kick,

Adidas bathing suits swish clumsily to the poolside

while Nike’s glide, criss-cross straps

peeling over taught backs, elegant.

 

We are all women today:

On the odd occasion a stray male wades in.

Never to return, though we would kindly welcome any of them back

to our Sunday 10am start Aqua Fit Class.

 

To the eyes of we women, who possess both flat and full bustiers’,

Amusing are deep-set obliques pointing to a bulge failing miserably

to hide behind black and white Speedos.

But before we know it, class comes to a close.

 

So we mount the shallow end steps. I note-

Some of our shocks of pubic hair straying out of bathing costumes.

Others waxed as smooth as the underside of your chin,

the rest cut-red from repetitive shaving.

But we don’t judge because we’ve probably

been them all, and will be them all again.

 

A cluster of human beings – exclusively the female kind –

huddles by the poolside

Toned and taught body on show in new snazzy swimming costume:

I feel naked while treading over tiles, to find a cubicle to change in.

I sit down on a seat; wonder if someone will speak to me eventually.

Guess I’ll have to wait till next week to see.

If not, at least a week isn’t a momentous amount of time to have to wait

to feel that wonderful inclusive invisibility among us women,

And the odd stray male if he decides to wade in.