Depression & Anxiety for Me.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will probably know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this week in particular is Mental Health Awareness Week. Personally, although I know everything has it’s own week, month, day etc, I really do believe these events are fantastic. And not just because I can be even more annoying and a social media nuisance more than normal. It really does make people sit back and think, It helps give those a tiny push to share their stories and get involved but most importantly, it sign posts people to where they can get help and support and ultimately, this can, and does, save a life!

Now, I cant talk for everyone, mental health affects everyone in its own unique way so these thoughts and feelings, as usual, are purely my own. What Depression and Anxiety are to me. You yourself may have different ways of perceiving them, or they may make you feel different but as with anything, we are unique to ourselves. It doesn’t mean we are suffering any more or less, it just means we are suffering in our own way. To add a positive spin to it too, we all cope and manage in our own way as well. As I have said before and I will always say, we are in this together. We are each others mutual support, we understand, we empathise and sympathise and ultimately, we are stronger together.

OK, so Depression. Firstly you may notice I spell them with capital letters, like names. This to me was my way of compartmentalising them. If I made them into “beings” it was easier for me to understand the effect they had over me, the control. It was easier to get my head round what was going on and easier to get things out of my head as I could, demonise them, I suppose is the best way to say it.

Depression hangs around me like a dark cloak that at times I find impossible to shake off. He (no offence to the male sex here, not saying you have any links, I just feel they are he’s) really likes to take full control. Of my mind, body and soul. If he manages to successfully infiltrate one of those three, it is VERY hard for me to stop him getting his dirty claws into the other two. He makes me feel worthless, he makes me feel ugly, he makes me feel stupid. He makes me think I am a burden to those around me, that I am just making peoples lives a misery and hanging onto them when I should be letting them drop me and go and make themselves happy. He makes me paranoid, like everyone is talking about me and judging me, that no one loves me and that they are all laughing at me behind my back. It is a horrible place to be. Everything loses it shine, goes dark and dull and even my favourite music can lose that spark it has to me when things are really bad. I listen to the words and hear an alternative, darker story than what I actually know it is saying.

Everything seems so difficult, from opening my eyes on a morning, to walking, to talking. I lose interest in pretty much everything. I get to the end of the day and I feel exhausted. Exhausted that I have had to survive another day. Not live, not when I feel at my lowest, but survive. I also feel anger and frustration. The anger scares me the most as when I lose it, I struggle to control it. In those moments, as brief as luckily they mainly are, I don’t care who I hurt. If I hurt this much, so should they. Horrible isn’t it? (disclaimer – I shouldn’t have to put this here but I think it is sensible that I do, I would NEVER physically harm my children, nor would I emotionally or mentally abuse them. They may see me mad or upset, that is a reality of suffering from a mental health issue. It is never directed at them. Fortunately I have that self control and maternal protection ingrained in me. Just saying. For the record!)

The thing is, Depression is a manipulator. He can get you truly believing these horrible things. He can give you the clarity to plan your own end of life with such terrifying detail and can have you act on it! He does not care, he plays to win. To him, with me, ultimately winning is death. My death. BUT, I have beat him back enough now that although I don’t and probably never will have ultimate control over him, I am using him against himself. All these feelings, all these actions I have done to myself are now my lived experience. My key to my future, to helping others understand, to helping others help themselves. I do very occasionally have fleeting thoughts now, but more about running away than dying. That is a massive relief to me!

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Now, Anxiety, Depressions annoying but equally as aggressive brother! He likes to play with your head in the other way, where Depression makes you not care, He makes you care too much. He makes you fear yourself, he makes you fear everything, he makes your head so busy that although Depression is exhausting you and all you want to do is sleep, you cant! He makes my heart beat faster, my palms itch and gives me the worst headaches where even my eye ball hurts. He makes it so I can enjoy the things I enjoy, if that makes sense? I cant relax. I can cant concentrate on reading, I cant sit still, my mind is whirring at the speed of a walzer and one fleeting worry escalates into one massive snowball of an issue! Yet at the same time, he also makes you feel stupid, but in the way that you believe no one would understand. Sleep becomes nigh on impossible for more than a few hours at a time as it is like a blind getting pulled open. A barrage of thoughts tumble into your dreams and before you know it you are watching the minutes pass by and the sun rise, wondering how the hell you are going to cope with what you have on that day. How will you face people? How will you get things done?

I have days where I am great, days where I am good, sometimes I am lucky where I have weeks, though months at a time seems a long way off at the moment. As an old manager used to say to me, I need to learn to walk before I can run. When you fall so far down the rabbit hole, you cant expect to be skipping in the meadow again within a certain time scale. Who knows how long it will take, but one thing is for sure, I will get there! That meadow has my name on it! There will be other rabbit holes scattered all over that meadow, I am intelligent and realistic enough to know I will probably never be able to not fall in one, life experiences and the way my brain functions put paid to that. You know what though, I think I am as OK with that as I can be.

For now, and hopefully for as long as I am trotting around on this earth, I will just continue to do what I can to spread the word and help whoever I can. I can certainly think of worse ways to live my life.

Love

CC xx

 

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Just some things I felt like saying

It’s one of those days where I have the strong urge to blog and to get things out but at the same time I am not even sure what I actually have to say. Bit of a strange feeling to be honest, but as usual I am going to let my fingers do the talking. They do a much better job than my mouth anyway!

Maybe it is the fact that college is coming to an end that has got me pondering on things. I still remember the day vividly that I decided to take the leap and go back into education, after my volunteering and my story about exercise and running helping my mental health started the ball rolling into what is now a solid plan for my future. It has been a tough 9 months in a lot of ways. Our class got off to a bad start but we have made it to the end. We unfortunately lost a few people along the way but I am sure they will agree, we have made friendships that will last a long time. Even if I am the only one not studying social work haha.

What I rediscovered is, despite having to fight for motivation to get things completed sometimes, the downfall of doing these kind of things while fighting a tough mental health battle, is just how much I do really love to learn. I feel like a sponge. Of course there are parts that have little or no interest to me, but I take the rough with the smooth. At the end of the day, this was just a tiny stepping stone to where I need to end up. Am I nervous about starting university? Freaking terrified if I am completely honest. It’s not like I am a fresh faced 18/19 year old. I am a 33 year old, mother of 2 who is still fighting some pretty massive personal mental demons. But hey, one thing you should all know about CC by now, she is no quitter, she thrives on the pressure, even if it because it distracts her from the parts of her life that ultimately feel like a huge crash!

I know I need to give myself a break. I know I will do everything I can to succeed as becoming an Exercise Psychologist and working with those with mental health issues is quite honestly too important to me now. It has went from a tiny flicker of an idea to an “I want that and I will stop at NOTHING to get it!”. But the other parts of my brain, you know, my mates Depression and Anxiety, they need gagging! I am so sick of hearing “why are you bothering?” “no one is interested” “people are just sick of you now” “go back to the shadow of your former self” “you’ve never been worth anything to anyone before, what makes now so different?”

Vicious aren’t they? Who needs enemies?!

The thing is, the more I share my story, the more I put myself out there, the more I worry that people are just getting fed up with me. I am literally getting everywhere at the moment. I do share a lot, I post constantly, I put myself forward for pretty much everything. Why? Because it is important! I have been judged and talked about and the rest pretty much all my life for various reasons, sometimes even by the people who are meant to care about me. I am so sick of trying to be what everyone thinks I should be. So I am being me. In all glorious, technicolour annoyingness! And if you don’t like it, tough! Unfollow me, unfriend me, ignore me (oh wait, some of you already do that!) I don’t care anymore. If you cant support me at my worst, if you cant understand why I am doing this, if my fight to end stigma and shout about mental health illness at the top of my voice irritates you, you don’t deserve my time to be honest. Those that TRULY love me, are proud of me, support me and all the rest have now made themselves clear to me. So those are the people that deserve me and my time.

I realise now I have put a lot of time and energy into people who just quite simply didn’t deserve it. I watched a little video on Facebook today and it got me thinking. Time is free but it is also priceless. I have been giving it to people who used it, and me, to be honest. They knew I would be there for them and would always listen, yet when the tables turned, they were nowhere to be seen. I try not to swear so much in my blogs these days but this needs to be said:

FUCK YOU!

Wow, that felt good!!

If you think this might be about you, think about why you think it is. Are you the person I am talking about? The people actually be to be fair. If so, are you happy with how you have made me feel? That you have helped heighten those feelings of worthlessness, that you have made me shed tears, that you have actually hurt me? Do you actually even care?? Probably not. And now I can say, it says a hell of a lot about you as a person than me.

Hands up, I am not perfect. God, far far from it. When I am struggling I retreat, but then at the same time I use distraction and avoidance as methods of coping (using CBT to help try and combat this) so I am always busy. But if you need me, I will be there in a second. I wont always reach out first as I worry that you don’t need my crap and that all I will end up doing is whinge. I wont always tell you what is wrong, I will still pretend that I am good, because I can use this blog now to get my worries, thoughts and fears out. This to me means I can be a much better friend to you. I hope.

So, I am now making my first step into the next chapter of the crazy life of CC. I am reaching out through various avenues. I am studying for things that will ultimately help me support others. I am loving that I can redo my PT course and the nutrition one is very interesting! I will be a bona fide full time student as of September. But I am going to be personally stronger, emotionally stronger. I have got this far being honest, sharing my story to help others and I will continue to do so, because to me, that is the right thing to do.

Recently, a few doors have definitely closed. I know now though that they were meant to and for good reason. I cant keep focusing on what is behind me, not when I, and only me, have the power to make my future and my life mean so much more.

Until my next rant……….

Love CC xx

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#MaternalMentalHealthAwareness

It is always harder to write a blog when it comes to things that concern my children. They are my life, my reason for breathing, my reason for wanting to help change the world so that they can grow up in a safer, more understanding society. A society where you can talk about anything, especially how you are feeling, whether you are old or young, boy or girl.

Thing is, how do you get rid of the gut wrenching guilt that has clouded you since the very first day you found out you were pregnant? The first thing you thought was not how happy you were but how scared you were. How you knew you couldn’t do this. How you were barely capable of looking after yourself, never mind a baby!
That is how my story starts and is something I have struggled to deal with ever since.
Let’s go back, I was 19 years old. I had moved over 70 miles away from my hometown in Chester-Le-Street to Harrogate. I upped and left everything and everyone for a lad I hadn’t really been seeing for very long. The fear of the unknown though was more appealing than the life I was living at the time. I needed to escape. So, I did. It was very much a whirlwind, I was away from home for less than a year when I found out I was pregnant. I panicked. Selfishly, I had only just tasted freedom. I was only just living for myself for the first time in my life and just like that, I was going to be back to having to put someone else first.
They talk about post-natal depression, and I will talk in a moment about that as I can be honest now and say a lot of my problems stemmed from me suffering once my daughter was born. But what people fail to mention and help you with is when you are clearly struggling when you are pregnant. Looking back, it was completely obvious I was struggling, badly. I treated myself and my unborn baby appallingly. I was in a hellish place, yet I felt so stuck and so alone. I had no voice at all. I had to do what I do best, what I had done all my life up to that point and stick a massive fake smile on my face and pretend everything was A OK. It was very far from OK. I felt like all my decisions were being made for me and I had no say in my own life. I just got dragged along this terrifying pathway into motherhood. One I had never expected to be on. Family, marriage and children had never been on my radar. I wanted a career. I wanted to travel. Now, I felt like I was constantly tied in a straight jacket. Just nodding and shaking my head at the allocated points needed to show I was still a semi functioning human.
9 month later, my beautiful daughter was born, 4 days early weighing a tiny 6lb 6oz. 2 days before my 20th birthday.
You read about these overwhelming emotions of love and adoration and all the rest. I waited. I expected to feel it straight away. It didn’t happen. Ok, maybe I am just tired. It will come once I have had some sleep, I had been in labour for 72 hours after all. No. It never came. I waited days, weeks, months. That “new mam” feeling just didn’t surface. I did love her, she was part of me. I was incredibly protective, I didn’t want anyone else to go near her. The feelings of jealousy when anyone was holding her were insane. Yet, at the same time I didn’t want to be with her either. It was an internal struggle and the noise in my head was insane.

I went back to working 48 hour weeks when she was only 5 month old, I started drinking a lot. Far too much. I started to rebel. I wanted a life. I couldn’t handle a baby. I was a terrible mother. What kind of mother didn’t want to be near such a gorgeous baby who was no bother at all? This cycle went on for years. She was a good sleeper, she was happy and content. Yet I couldn’t take any credit for this as I just had no interest. I went through the motions as I was scared someone would take her off me. Which considering how I actually felt was quite ironic.
I lied to everyone. I lied on the health visitor’s questionnaire. I lied to all the health care professionals. I was telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. Yet inside I was screaming. I just wanted someone to call me out and tell me they knew I was lying. But no one ever did.

It got so bad, I felt so out of control, so lost, so worthless and such a disgusting human being for the way I felt, it was at this time that I decided my daughter would be better off without me. I needed to leave her with people who could give her all the love and the support and happy life that she deserved. I had a very difficult childhood myself for many reasons, her Dad had had a very different experience. It made sense to take me out of her equation and leave her to grow up like her Dad had. So, I got very drunk, argued with my daughter’s dad, locked myself in the bathroom and the next thing I remember is a lot of blood and being rushed to the hospital in a police car.
Was it a wake-up call? Eventually yes, after the soul-destroying feelings of disappointment at still being alive waned. Did I suddenly have an epiphany and dote on my daughter? Sadly, no. Although love slowly and steadily grew over time, it took many years to have what I would class as a mother-daughter relationship. The thing I must deal with now, which became very apparent after the birth of my son, is just how different our relationship is. She is very much a daddy’s girl. He is her universe. And for many reasons he deserves to be. He has adored her from the minute I confirmed I was pregnant. I just hope it is not too late to salvage some sort of true bond before she flies the nest and becomes anything she wants to be.
They may not have been in my “plan” but I am very lucky to have my children, who I do truly love with all my heart. I would die for them. I want to be a better person because of them. I want them to see there is good in this world. That they can be anything they want to be. I will always be their number one supporter.
My daughter is so beautiful, so kind, so very clever. Despite everything she has had to deal with in her 13 years of life, she is so resilient and balanced. I worry as she has my way of bottling things up and just trying to deal with everything herself, but I am so proud and so in awe of her bravery, of not letting anyone dictate to her how she should think. She sticks by what she believes in.
Post-natal depression is no joke. I applaud everyone who is speaking out about this and putting themselves out there to raise awareness. To highlight the flaws in the system and what needs to be done. Thank you to those who are supporting the people who suffer and helping them realise, it is like any other illness. It is not your fault. You are a good person and a good mother/father. It is your illness telling you otherwise. You can beat this, I promise.
I ask you, please, reach out. Tell someone that you are struggling. You are not alone, you don’t have to struggle alone. Be honest. Take that soul crushing weight off your shoulders.
CC xx

 

 

#getinspired

It has been ages since I have blogged two days in a row! And two pretty positive posts at that! Get me! But after watching the London Marathon again, I was just overwhelmed with so much emotion, inspiration and motivation. I am seriously in awe of those people, who completed those 26.2 miles in the hottest recorded weather. Who all have their individual stories. Some of pain, of hurt but of determination and the passion to succeed and raise money as well as awareness of causes close to their heart.

Hearing their stories is so inspiring. You really cant ever know what is going on in someone’s life until they open up. People who have lost loved one’s, people who have nearly lost their own life, people with loved one’s in hospital or treatment. Yes, running something like the London Marathon is a big personal achievement and recognition of Snapchat-35456296.jpgsuch a feat is deserved, What I also think, especially for those running for others, it is such a selfless act. For those who are not trained athlete’s, it is putting their bodies through some serious work, even pain! Wow!

I watched with so much pride for my country. Proud to be part of the London spirit, even from my sofa in Teesside, I could feel it. The hashtag was #getinspired and I so have! I was gutted I never got a place in 2018 but looking back now, I know I hadn’t been in the right head space at all to train, so it would have either ended up with me deferring or (more accurately due to my stubborn streak) being dangerous for me. Mentally and physically.

I am so determined to run it though. I have one of my bucket list run’s in September – the Great North Run. Training has started already. To get a place in 2019’s London Marathon would be the icing on the cake for this year. To be able to run the most famous marathon in the UK and raising money for Mind would be utterly amazing. Certainly one of my greatest physical achievements. Especially as I wouldn’t call myself a runner so to speak. I just do ok.

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The thing is, I want to push past my own limits. It is easy to fall into a comfort zone and just do what you know you can, what you know you are good at. I know I can bosch off 5km regularly in under 30 minutes. I know I can squat with the best of them and can sweat my tiny baps off on a circuit I create myself. What I want is to push past what I believe to be my limits. At the moment even the idea of 13.1 mile is daunting! But I know I can do that, because I already have. In a decent time too!

I want to beat my demons and I want to inspire others. I would LOVE to be the reason that made someone take up running or taking up a sport or fitness routine that they have always wanted to. I would love people to think, well if she can do it, I can do it too! Of course you can! You can do anything you want to. You can’t let you tell you otherwise. It wont be easy but then I believe that anything worth having never comes easy. There will be days, even weeks where you simply cant be arsed but you know what a success is? Doing it anyway! In fact, most of the time, those runs/games/workouts are the ones that end up feeling the best! Even if you are cursing yourself in the middle and wanting to quit.

There is so much help and support out there, if you want it. Maybe you are like me and apart from helping others, you prefer to work solitary. That’s fine. It’s about you. What works for you. What you want to gain from your experience. Whether it be finishing a particular race, raising money, setting an example for your kids, trying to lose/gain weight or just simply to get fitter. Maybe you want to be inspired to do something that doesn’t have anything to do with sport, exercise or fitness. Maybe you want to start volunteering? Or how about a career change? What about going back into education? Or simply learning a hobby that has always interested you. Inspiration comes in so many forms and means something different to everyone.

To me anyone who does something to help someone else is a MASSIVE inspiration. Yes, being selfish is necessary for your own mental health. I 100% agree with that. You cant help anyone at all if you cant help yourself. But those that dedicate their lives to others are just hero’s in my eyes. The emergency services, the army, those that volunteer, those that fundraise for good causes and those that are just there for those that need them, whether it be a simple message, a cuppa and a friendly ear or taking someone away from reality for even just a small while. These people don’t do these things for recognition but they sure as hell deserve it and they deserve a massive well done and a hug!

Today, I challenge you to think of one thing that you would love to do. Anything at all. And I want you to believe that at some point, whether you start now or in the future, that you will do it! Start a little action plan. Do a mind map. Do some research but ultimately, take that first step into the unknown and you never know how your life might change. This time last year I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be in the situation I am now, with so many new opportunities on the horizon. Some potentially very exciting ones! Each step forward is a step to my future, even if that step is a stumble or a fall. It’s still forward.

I cant change the past but I sure as hell can change the future and I will. I was put on this Earth for a reason. Plain and simple. And it wasn’t just to annoy the hell out of people! 😉

Thank you to all you AMAZING runners today. Enjoy this moment. You deserve it. Be proud!!

Love

CC xx

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Sunshine on a rainy day

This song has been on loop in my head all morning and to be honest I have no idea as I haven’t heard it for years, but it did get me thinking. It is actually quite appropriate. Not because of the good old English weather being as random as it is, but because it is actually a good metaphor for how I am feeling at the moment.

I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, I tend to neglect my blog a bit when I get busy, but it’s also because when I am in a better place, I tend to think that people don’t want to hear the random ramblings of what goes on in my head. I get concerned that although I am in a good place, others might not be and I don’t want to rub my ok’ness in their faces. Does that make sense? Probably not. It’s me. I think I know what I mean.

If I am honest it has been a bit of a crazy week or so. Pretty much all being good! Things seem to be falling slowly into place. Which if I am honest makes me a bit nervous. Like if I do something to upset the balance it will all come tumbling down around me. I hate the way that my brain works! I am trying so hard to appreciate the good days and it feels so good to really feel the smile on my face but why cant that be the end of it? Why do I have to think 5 steps ahead? It is so frustrating. I want to live in the moment but it really seems to piss off Depression and his new addition to the CC family, Anxiety.

Depression alone was a horrible place to be in. The feelings if worthlessness, misery, despair and hate BUT I knew where I was with it. Things made sense. I felt like I deserved to be there. Anxiety? That is a whole new experience, and if I am honest, what a shitter of one! I feel like I am walking on eggshells and I hate not understanding. Although I am notably very self aware with my issues, this is completely new water, and treacherous at that! It’s like Depression knew he was losing a grip on me so he called in for some back up. Sneaky bastard.

Now, like I say, I am actually in a good place. Sat in the garden, sun on my skin, birds singing, 90’s dance music on in the background and lot’s to look forward to. The familiar click click of the keys on my laptop are as soothing as ever. Something seems to be in the background though and I cant for the life of me put my finger on what it is. I know it isn’t good though. It seems dark, like a smudge on your sunglasses. Cold, like the random breeze that catches you and reminds you it is still actually only April. Like a warning that things can change in an instant. The thing that messes with my head is the not knowing. I can deal with stuff when I am in control, when I know the facts and I can plan. I am definitely a planner, even if I do catastrophize and plan for the worst, it’s still a plan. When I cant plan, I start to lose control a bit and then that is when Depression and Anxiety see a nick in my armour and start to pick.

Thing is, they don’t realise that I am on to them and like fuck am I going to let them drag me back to where they have had me most of this year. It has taken me a lot of blood, sweat, tears and broken nails to get myself out of my hole again. I’m currently in the process of cementing the buggar up! It used to be my safe place. Cool, dark, quiet and safe. I felt like no one could get me in there. The thing I have realised is, I was actually in the hole with the thing that could hurt me more than anyone or anything ever has. ME! Until I learn to love myself, truly and completely, I am not always going to be safe for myself.

So, along with all the other, more material things, like uni and my nutrition course and training for the Great North Run, I am now more determined than ever to sort out my head, once and for all. The distraction and avoidance techniques are fail safes and have helped me this far, but I cant keep relying on them long term. Not on their own. As the fear of failure is too strong. I am depending on my success too much and if something was to go wrong, something out of my control, it could potentially destroy me. I am more a straw house at the moment. I want to be made of bricks!

So, the antidepressants will be a main factor in my daily routine now, and I am OK with that. They work. I am also making the first tentative steps into the world of CBT. Counselling was very beneficial but I do believe I got what I needed out of that. I know now that bad things happened and they weren’t my fault. What I need to do now is retrain my brain. Although I do try to find positives, I want to change my negative thought processes. My overthinking needs to be addressed but most of all I want to understand me, as much as I possibly can. When I can understand myself, hopefully that will take me onto the next step of self appreciation and even self love.

Ultimately, if I cant love me, how can I expect anyone else too. And lets face it, as bat shit crazy as I actually am, I do tend to have some pretty awesome qualities…….. so I am told 😉

Ok lovely people, that is enough random crap from me. Off to enjoy the sun! While we still have it. Have a lush day wherever you are. If you are having a bad day, just have a day. Those dark clouds will move eventually

Love

CC xx

Decisions

***Another guest blog from the provider who sent me Lighthouse. I think you will all agree, he is a great writer and he gives us a great insight into his bubble of mental health problems.

He would like to continue to stay anonymous, for now but please, help me support him and show him how great he is and how his words can touch others.

His blog is as follows:

The only thing worse than the wrong decision is making no decision at all. A good statement but not 100% accurate. I would suggest two amendments. 1. Being forced into a decision 2. Making a decision to make someone else happy.
Until recently I had never made my own decision because it was the right option for me, it was either the right option for someone else or it was my only option. I didn’t want to go to university. I wanted to be a soldier so at 17 I applied. I passed the fitness with ease but failed on my attitude. That’s my failing and ill own it. I had trained myself for years to get physically fit enough for the selection. When I was denied I stopped training all together and now need to prepare to jog up the stairs to bed. So, I failed, I didn’t have a back up plan. My friends did “we’re going to uni come with us” they said. So, I did. I didn’t choose the uni or the course. I went where they were going, and I was doing what they were doing. No passion for it, no commitment to it, just a lack of options and no reason to change.
3 years later I graduated with a degree and was working part time. It wasn’t the ideal job and prospects weren’t great, but it was spending money. I applied all over for graduate schemes, carefully selecting companies that I wanted to work for, doing my research, willing to move. I got zero replies, not a ‘no thanks’ or a ‘keep your chin up’ or even a ‘maybe next time’. I couldn’t sit at home 5 days a week. That finished with uni. I went full time where I already worked. The job I didn’t choose earned me enough money to start to pay the student debt I had accrued from the degree I didn’t want and wasn’t using. It’s hard to find the momentum to go to a job every day when you firmly believe you should be doing something more. I did find my motivation and I’m still with the company, working my way up. There’s a ray of light and possibly a motivational story for another time.
Around this time, I had to move out. Had too, my family home was lost due to bankruptcy, so I had to grow up quick. I was seeing someone at the time whose mother irritated her, she wanted out, I needed out, we moved in together. I hadn’t decided this, it was needs must. I don’t regret this happening. It was my first enchilada of freedom, I was young and happy and even if I could have moved in on my own I know I wouldn’t have. I’m not trying to say these are mistakes, just that the lack of options in my life became a pattern, a pattern that I didn’t try to break. I had issues and I accepted it was my lot in life.
The pattern continued. I was a being a spectator in my own life. I didn’t choose the holiday locations, I didn’t choose the house I eventually bought, I didn’t choose the decorating or what we ate. I just paid for most of it. It happened slowly but it happened none the less. I found myself hitting milestones and all I had to show for it was what other people I cared about had wanted. My wants had fallen by the way. I was fine with all this. I was fine when I could see how happy others were. I didn’t need the toys, or the driving lessons, or the nights out without an eye roll and a guilt trip. Because I was doing it for them. I was making decisions for them. But then I stopped seeing them, life happens and for most people who have a family and full time jobs you begin to see the people you love less. But what you don’t see less is the situation you have made for yourself, so you need to like where you are and what you have. It turns out I wasn’t.
If your reading this and you aren’t sure if it applies ask yourself one question. Am I selfish? Its ok to be selfish. Its fucking necessary. It’s a positively magnificent idea to say “sorry flower, no caravan holiday for us this year, we’ve already been abroad and now I’m skint.” “But I want to spend time together as a family” “well get the fuckin barbeque out cos I’m not going away again”. And don’t let people convince you what you want isn’t necessary. Take it from a guy who can’t drive at 30 because “you don’t really need to learn though do you?”. In a healthy relationship there has got to be give and take, there has got to be democracy. if your asked to do something, only do it if you want to do it. Don’t go on holiday if you don’t want to and can’t afford it and for the love of fucking God don’t take a loan to pay for one, max the credit card for another and live in an overdraft for the third. I made these mistakes. I made them because they deserved to be happy. “THEM” not me. Now that I’m on my own I don’t know how to make decisions to benefit me, I need someone to want something then ill aim for that. I’m getting better at it though. I’m going to buy what I want while I can and go where I’ve never been. I’m going to have guilt free nights out, I’m not asking permission to watch this, or play that or listen to these guys. Its not bad to want to make others happy, its bad if you don’t make yourself happy. So make a decision you miserable idiots.

(Prescription) Drugs DO work!

Since the beginning of being open and honest about my fight with Depression and more recently, anxiety, I was always determined to stay away from antidepressants or tried to believe that I didn’t need them and I could manage in other ways. I suppose partly I was hoping that I could believe I wasn’t as bad as I am but mostly it was actually just a genuine  fear of them. When I was younger they didn’t get a good hype and you were thought of as crazy if you took them, although I campaign constantly to try and erase stigma, it can still have an effect even 20 or so years later.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t try some. It was one of the reasons my fear grew and my stubbornness kicked back in. Citalopram sent me, well manic is the only way I can describe it. I couldn’t sleep at all, even less than I do now, I felt constantly buzzed and could sit still even less than usual. Sertraline gave me the worst kidney pain imaginable and ruined my family holiday last year. I was in so much pain I was debating going to the hospital in Turkey! So although there are loads of SSRI’s, I believed that they  just weren’t for me. Until last month.

This year has been hard so far, to the point I was starting to worry about my state of mind again. I have cried so many tears, screamed, shouted, pushed people away and just generally been a mardy arse! Nothing was working, my motivation was drying up, my exercise has taken a step back as I just haven’t had the energy. The days have been dark most of the time where if I am honest, a lot of time I just wanted to give up. To just exist quietly. I have been “faking it” an awful lot but never seeming to quite “make it”. I had to admit defeat. I needed help. My coping techniques were just not working properly any more. So another trip back to the doctor, signed off sick long term as work was unfortunately a large stressor, I doubt I will ever be back in that office if I am to be completely honest. It’s just too dangerous for me. Another conversation with the doctor about antidepressants and this time, I gave in and accepted another chance at a different drug.

Hand on heart, the first 3 weeks were brutal. I didn’t get happier, in fact I think I actually dipped even lower. Dark thoughts and motives returned but thankfully more ideations than actual concrete plans this time. I was so prepared to just sack the drugs off. They clearly don’t work. I’m broken. Nothing will “fix me”.

But then, I woke up one day last week and I didn’t feel so down. I felt a flicker of hope. I smiled before 9am and even more sensational, before coffee!! I didn’t feel the tug of despair deep in my gut anymore, it was more just a gentle ache. The thing is, it literally changed that quick. Over night. My friend said it would and to be honest I thought she was mad to begin with, but it did! Like a finger snap. I’m not fixed, not by a long shot, but I feel a little less broken than I did. So, as painful as it is to admit, I was wrong. Drugs DO work!

A conversation I had on Friday has had me thinking about this more over the weekend. My friend had admitted they were trying to wean themselves off their tablets. I asked why. (By the way, before I go any further DO NOT TRY TO COME OFF ANTIDEPRESSANTS WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR! It is incredibly dangerous, even missing doses can have a huge impact!) If we were on medication for say, diabetes, we wouldn’t think about trying to skip doses and come off something that was helping us. Why do we feel like we can do that with antidepressants? Because we don’t feel they are “real” medication? Because we think once we feel better again we are better? Why do we struggle to admit that if they are working they must be a good thing? Stigma, judgement and opinions have a lot to answer for! I wonder how many people have put themselves back in their recovery or have suffered when they didn’t have to because of what they think others thought? Hands up please. I know both mine are in the air.

Having a look at statistics today, the amount of prescriptions for antidepressants and other mental health drugs has increased from 31 million in 2006 to over 65 million in 2016. They cost the NHS £780,000 a day in the UK. Perhaps more shockingly but interestingly, there has been a 54% increase in the number of children prescribed them. What do we think of that? Personally, although I hate to think of anyone suffering as it is truly horrible, it shows that more people are becoming aware of these issues. More people are willing to admit they are struggling and ask for help. I wouldn’t say medication is an “easy option” and it certainly isn’t for everyone. I believe other forms of help should be sourced before or alongside the medication route, like talking therapies, but they do hold their place in society and for a lot of people, they are a necessary part of day to day life. No one should feel ashamed for doing what will ultimately help them. They should be congratulated on taking themselves seriously and being a priority.

Life is stressful enough. Bad stuff happens and even the strongest of people can have days, weeks or even months where they struggle. If help is out there, whether in pill form or whatever, use it! We are lucky to have free health care, we are lucky to have so many options and having choices in our health and well being. A healthier lifestyle is ultimately a happier life and who doesn’t want to be happy?

So, my name is CC and I am on fluoxetine and for the first time in my life, I am OK with it, because it helps me be a better me!

CC xx