Not Enough Words

I hate this.

I hate trying to find the words that convey what is going on in my head. What to say when people tell me they are happy that I have ‘beaten depression’, because I have laughed at a couple jokes.

Firstly, I’ll never blame the other person. They are being honest, they say what they feel will help. It may make sense to them, to show they are happy for progress made. It’s meant to be nice, so I try to take it at face level.

Secondly, is recognising that depression doesn’t go away, simply because you can have a laugh with some friends. Similarly, you can still suffer from anxiety, even when you speak towards a group. I have experience problems, with my mental health, for most of my life. And yet, I struggle in finding a way to explain it to people, to let them know what is going on. Nothing I think up seems to be adequate.

I seem to be able to explain ‘bits’. Like, why I may be feeling a particular way on a particular day. But, the overall way my mind seems to twist things, is a much more difficult concept to grasp for myself, let alone trying to help someone else understand.

For years, I plodded on. I suffered with depression and anxiety, but tried to plod on. I didn’t know what else to do. It’s only fairly recently that I was recommended to try to figure out why I am the way I am. Actually recognise the behaviours, rather than simply ignore them. A lot of the time it’s like aiming to climb a mountain, but walking into a brick wall every time you try.

I am trying to focus on learning more about my depression and anxiety. Because if I can understand it, myself, maybe I can explain it better. Maybe.

Putting Me First

I am quite a helpful person. Or, I try to be, anyway. If someone comes to me, and needs help, I’ll do my best to help them. That’s the way I was brought up, assist those around you, as you never know when you may have to resort to the kindness of others.

The problem comes with, my anxiety. At work, about 6 months ago, I was asked to help with another department. A department I used to work in, but hadn’t done so in over a year. Processes had changed, and I felt like if there was 5 problems in front of me, I knew how to fix one. The supervisors all said it was okay. But, I don’t like when I don’t seem to be helping as much as I want to. I was okay during that shift. But afterwards, I felt awful. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I just did a half-arsed job, and I was stupid for thinking I could actually help. It took the entire weekend, before I started to feel better.

Last week, the same request came in again. My supervisor asked me if I was able to go. I took a second, wondering if it was worth the stress I went through last time. When I say stress, no one did anything, it was my own brain causing me stress. I thought back to my last call with my doctor. He advised, that I need to learn to listen to my anxieties, and not put myself into situations which could make it worse.

So, I said no. I said that I hadn’t done the job properly for 18 months, and most of the processes had changed. He was fine with that, and I stayed in my normal department. Then I felt guilty, because I hadn’t helped out, and I felt I was horrible. To the point, I had to explain to both my supervisor, and the one from the other department, why I didn’t feel comfortable, and what had happened last time. They both agreed, that if something was going to stress me out so much, then it is good to not force myself.

And, that was it. No problems what so ever. And once I had spoken to the supervisors, I felt more comfortable that I had made the right decision. Which is difficult. Since I started suffering mental health problems as a teenager, I have always ‘pushed through’ what was going on in my head. And, whilst I got stuff done, it has left me completely unable to deal with my own mental health. Just pushing through, is like moving a brick around. The more you ignore, the more bricks you move. Eventually the one or two bricks, become a pile, a pile that is difficult to move. So it’s best to deal with the bricks one at a time.

That metaphor sucked.

But, I hope the message is clear. Dealing with mental health, is learning when you need to make choices to protect yourself. Don’t simply keep forcing through the same things, it just makes things worse. Be kind to yourself.

Wired Wrong

I used to always ask for help. Go to a teacher, and tell them what I was feeling. It could have been about my weight, sexuality, or anything. I was always told, no one can help you fix a problem, if they don’t know about it.

So, I’d ask. For help. For advice.

The only answers that I got, were that I was ‘wired wrong’. Something, my teenage self, turned into being my fault. As if it could be anyone’s ‘fault’. It was my own fault that I felt so disconnected with the people around me. I’d speak to the doctor, they’d give tablets, but not really listen.

As I have grown up, I have continued blaming myself for not processing things the same, or for letting certain things effect me. I stopped asking for help so much, as it was embarrassing that I was doing this myself.

Over the last 6 months, I have had regular phone calls with a locum GP, who actually listened. I have spent time doing meditation, and I have no medication for my mental health. Which, is terrifying. But I am taking every day at a time. The GP mentioned that every person is wired differently, that’s why we are all such different people. There is nothing to be ashamed off. I just need to learn how my brain processes things, and find out what works, for me.

I turned 37 last week. It should never have taken this long for someone to make sense of what was happening. To find a way to help me understand why I was feeling the way I did.

Things aren’t all rosy. I still get panic attacks. I still assume the worst. I still start a dozen different jobs, and finish none. I still worry that I have offended everyone, and apologise for it constantly. But, it feels like I can find a way to work round what happens. To learn to love the behavioural quirks that make me, me. Which is a challenge and a half, I tell you.

My doctor said something that stuck. ‘Life comes with a standard manual, one that works for a large percentage of people. It doesn’t work for everyone, which is why we can write our own manual. Our own directions, that help us make our own way through life.’ It sounds silly. But it was strangely comforting.

Fixing Myself

Before I checked my blog, I couldn’t tell you when the last time I posted was. The internet has been a particularly stressful place, so far in 2021. Conspiracy theories and abuse seem to be thrown at anyone with wifi access, and it makes it difficult to create anything. It feels like anything you create for the internet, leaves you open to abuse. Which has always been a risk, but it just feels so much more intense. It doesn’t help that my last post, was about work problems. Things that had driven me to the end of my tether.

Fortunately things changed. I spoke to my manager, and they helped fix the situation. Which was good. It helped me feel confident that I wasn’t the ‘bad guy’ in the situation. I spoke to my GP over the phone, and he was happy that I had spoke up. As, we had previously spoken about me being proactive about my personal situation, and that I shouldn’t ‘suffer in silence’. So, I felt positive, my colleagues supported me, and made sure that I was okay. So I didn’t feel alone anymore.

I thought that maybe being proactive in other areas in my life would help. So, I have started trying to control my unhealthy relationship with food. So, I opened up the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and started tracking everything. I mindlessly eat, I do it as stress relief, have done. In fact, previously my doctor likened my over-eating to self-harm, as it was a way to punish myself. So, I am writing down everything that I eat. To try and recognise what I am taking in. It is helping, I feel so good that I have kept complete track of my food intake for the last two weeks. I am tracking at around 1700 calories a day, which is a deficit, and should help me lose a wee bit of weight too. But that isn’t essential. I just want to feel better.

I then applied for a new vacancy at my work. A learning trainer, it would be a promotion. I have trained people before, and I think it is a job I would be really good at. I sent my application away over a week ago, but haven’t heard anything back yet. It’s the first time I am looking towards the future, rather than just stewing about my current situation.

So I am feeling a wee bit positive. Which is better than last time. I am trying to step back into the world a bit more, function a little better, so I’ll maybe post a wee bit more.

Looking Forward

I look at this title, and I roll my eyes. There is this doubt, that everyone will be feeling, which asks us if it is worth even planning anything for this coming year. Is really worth getting our hopes up, that 2021 will be better than 2020?

It’s all rather pessimistic, and I think that modern society (from politics to marketing) wants you to be like that. It means that ‘they’ have the answer, that ‘they’ can make everything better. Go back to the good ol’ days, where things were more in your favour. This perfume will make your life a success, this politician will get rid of the things holding you down, this car will allow you to live the life you deserve.

Dreams. That’s what everything is selling to us. A better life for a the cost of a few pounds, or a vote on a bit of paper. And, people would like to believe that a better life would be so easy. I mean, if buying a new £30 pair of jeans would make all my problems go away, I’d snap up multiple pairs. But, that’s not the way the world works. There is no short cut to happiness or success, you have to work for what you want.

I sometimes am guilty of telling myself that I have put effort into things, which is why it is so unfair that things haven’t happened for me. But that isn’t true. Not really. I think about stuff, then I kind of half-arse it, and then get upset the stuff hasn’t turned out how I wanted. The audacity, I tell you.

So, I’m trying to make myself more responsible for what happens. Make the effort to do things fully. Work to my strengths. I know I am good at doing things in short bursts, for example, tidying for an hour at a time. Breaking things down like that helps me do more. And, if that’s what I need to get things actually done, so be it. So that when I look forward to things, they actually happen. Which would be nice.

Sick of it all

I’m sick and tired.

I’m sick of constantly saying sorry for things I can’t help. But if I didn’t say sorry, I’d feel guilty.

I’m sick of having to explain why I feel like shit, when I ‘don’t look depressed’.

I’m sick of being a burden. Everyone has their problems, mines are just trivial.

I’m sick of being exhausted. Getting up and functioning takes all my energy, even worse if I have to try to be ‘happy’.

I’m sick of being called an ‘attention seeker’ behind my back. I thought we were friends.

I’m sick of letting people down. Be it a text, a phone call or meeting for a coffee, it’s so hard to interact with people when I feel like this.

I’m sick of crying all the time. When my anxiety hits hard, I cry a lot. It can happen anywhere, it usually happens after a panic attack, and it’s embarrassing.

I’m sick of being told that exercise/ healthy eating/bubble baths will cure my depression.

I’m sick. I have had problems with my mental health since I was a teenager. Asked teachers, and told it was hormones, and since then I have struggled. I try to muddle on, but sometimes I am at breaking point. I am maybe not the best friend, sister or colleague, but I am trying my best.

Please visit SAMH for advice and help on mental health at https://www.samh.org.uk

Insta-hate Filled Hole

Over the years, social media networks have come and gone. Instagram, is a social network that I have used since I learned of it’s existence, back in my college days.

It’s the social network that provides me the most joy. I can post opinions, memories, or even wee stories of my day. And, in return, I get to see what other people create. I have made friends, followed artists and people that inspire me every day, and genuinely have fun on Instagram.

My profile. It’s full of nonsense, but that is me.

Instagram seems to get pulled up as the worst social media site, especially for the content that young eyes can find. People need to understand that social media sites run off what information you give it. What information and hashtags you may use, is what helps create the content you view. I think people need to be educated on how to use social media, before they start blaming it for everything. Social media makes money by curating a timeline that a user will interact with. Because heavy interaction, means there is more chance of adverts being seen, clicked on, and maybe sales made.

I follow accounts of artists, friends and people who post stuff that encourages me. I save topics like ‘alternative’, ‘Naruto’, ‘BlackPink’, ‘journaling’ and many more. I am not interested in fashion or make-up, so I find that I don’t get recommended pages of models and diet focused accounts.

My Instagram ‘explore’ page is mostly BlackPink. Which is fine by me.

Parents should always be aware of how social media sites work. Educate themselves. If you don’t like what you find, you protect your child. Teach them how to use social media responsibly, show what dangers lie on the internet. Because it should be taken just as seriously as dangers outside in the real world. If a parent refuses to understand how a site works, they can’t expect their child to.

My instagram is like a journal, a bit of a visual blog. I post what catches my attention, rather than just selfies of myself. I understand different people use it for different reasons, and that’s okay. But having such a outlet, has helped my mental health. If I am struggling, i try to go for a walk to take some pictures. And it really helps me gain some focus. It makes me sad that some people see everything on the internet as bad. To me it’s the opposite.

Black Lives DO Matter

I am white. I have never faced any prejudice over my skin colour. I do have problems, but none of them relate to me being the race that I am. I have watched the news, watched as people around the world erupt into protest.

On the 25th May, just a matter of days ago, a deli owner in Minneapolis (Minnesota, US) phoned the police after they suspected a customer had tried to use a fake $20 to pay for some cigarettes. The man was George Floyd. Police arrived and the way they restrained and treated him, lead to his death. George Floyd was unarmed. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a police officer held his knee against George’s throat, and continued to do so even after George lost consciousness. It is awful.

How many people must die so horrifically?

James Corden asked ‘how can black people dismantle a system they didn’t create’? And it’s true. So white people shouldn’t be silent. We should educate those around us, and speak out. It is not enough to be simply not racist any more, we must stand as anti-racist. We must use our voice, use our privilege in a way that helps our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our families.

Retweet and repost true accounts on social media. Read articles from black writers, listen to their voices. Understand our own history, understand that a lot of this comes back to colonialism. Learn the history that the schools conveniently missed out. Understand where the privilege of being white came from, and understand the damage it does. Understand the anger, and demand change.

Click here for resources

Casual Gamer

I have always enjoyed playing computer games. I like platform and racing games. I like games I can dip in and out of, without getting lost about where I am. I need a game that isn’t too complex. Mostly because my attention span is really bad, so there are times where I will leave a game for weeks at a time.

I remember my first console was the Game Boy. I played Mario, Kirby, games that were easy platformers. There was no saving, sometimes there would be a code for a level, but normally when your character died, you had to start again. The games were made to pick up and play time and time again. This suits my wondering mind. Games these days, tend to be focused on a person committing hours of gameplay. Which isn’t good for me. It means I don’t ever get very far in games.

Animal Crossing is an example of a fairly modern game, that I can play. My progress is slow, but a player is incentivised to play a little every day. And that works fine by me. I am also finding that because I am at home more, I am playing more. Animal Crossing is about a person living with cartoon-like animals, something young me used to imagine about.

I bought my Nintendo Switch last year, and these last few weeks are probably the most I’ve played it. Other games I have on it are Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. I also like playing the old Nintendo games like Mario from the SNES.

I don’t really like playing games on my phone. I own an Xbox (which I am using to watch Masterchef) as well, the games played most are Crash Bandicoot and GTA. I think GTA is the only modern franchise that I play, but I believe it’s because it’s quite episodic, and you can play short missions. Which makes it strange that I don’t like mobile games, because they are made to be played for short times.

The Subtle Art of Doing Nothing

Beginning to get a little bored of sitting at home all the time.

My anxiety thrives during periods where I am not busy. There is a sense of dread that rises up, and over takes everything. This feeling that, you are wasting your time, that you should be doing something useful.

So I try to keep busy. But, like everyone else, I end up losing hours at a time to social media. Which means I do nothing, so feel awful. I then put on a show, or movie, one that I have seen before. But the feeling is still the same. I have had panic attacks over not using my time efficiently. I am trying to read more, books that are sitting in a pile, that have been waiting to be read for months. I have downloaded Animal Crossing: New Horizons for my Switch. Trying to go out for fresh air every day.

I am still working, and that has helped immensely. I can go to work, and have some kind of normality in place. Although, even work, is far from normal. Having a routine helps keep my anxiety at bay, and it means I only have a few days a week where my anxiety spikes. I just hope that my work is able to stay open, because I really am concerned about what would happen if my work closes down.