You Couldn’t Make It Up

31 Mar

In recent times I’ve talked about mood swings, my lack of financial control at certain times and also how in recent years I’ve done quite well in handling it. I also admitted that the other day I had the strongest urge in a while for a spending spree and that whilst I’d have loved to be able to say I stayed strong regardless, I had no money to spend anyway.

Imagine my surprise then when I went to Croydon to buy an easter egg for my mum. I withdrew £10, checked my balance and lo and behold it says I have over 4k to spend.  hmmm this is strange I thought.

Went home, checked a few things, turns out I’ve been overpaid on my final student loan.

So I sat there and thought about what the old me would do – and I made sure I did the opposite.

The mistake won’t be rectified for a while but I handled the temptation better then ever. I actually thought about the consequences if I spent a lot of it. To be honest I could blow a lot on booze but seeing as I know where that road leads to it seems that my mindset really has changed for the better, which is great.

Anyway just thought it was funny that such an amount would find its way into my account after I’d been blogging about money. img0035

You Never Forget Your First Time

28 Mar

Steady on, I’m not talking about that first time;  I’m talking about the first time I went to the doctor about depression. And because of how it went I’ve never considered going back.

About two years ago I confided in my girlfriend that I had depression, the only person I’ve ever told. She never really knew how to deal with it but that’s for another time. She did insist on me going to see the doctor though. So I went online, put in all the things I’d been feeling and the things I’d been prone to do and it seemed that depression/bi polar was a good fit, albeit I was still confused as there is so much information out there.

From the off the doctor seemed pretty disinterested, seemingly only half-listening to what I was saying to her. Finally she looks up and says that it sounds like depression with bi polar tendencies. OK I’m thinking, so I guess here is where she will elaborate, explain things to me a bit more, give me some kind of useful information about where to go, who to talk to etc. anything really other then looking at me and saying

‘you have a girlfriend, you have a job, you’re at uni, why are you depressed?’

Huh? excuse me? I was stumped, because hey, in this day and age with all the knowledge we havetrust-me-im-a-doctor we all know that’s how it works right? Got a job? Got a girlfriend? nah you can’t be depressed. Was she joking, trying in her own way to say ‘hey, I know it’s rough but try and look at the positives’ ?

Nope because she then proceeded to write up a prescription for pills, told me to take them then come back and see her. She didn’t even take the time to explain the prescription to me.

Well I didn’t take the pills, to be honest yes I am against medication, pretty scared of going down that route but maybe if she’d taken the time to at least explain exactly what they were and how they would affect me I’d have been more inclined to do so.

A quick look at a few message boards shows there are many stories similar to my own.

 

And guess what, a couple years later I don’t have a girlfriend and I walked out on my job after a particularly bad episode.

BUT I’m still at uni and just over a month away from finishing and that’s pretty damn important to me right now. Turns out the rather sparse commitment to actually having to be in class works really well when you’re going through those ‘down’ phases. Even so you can still chart my attendance and grades according to the seemingly random mental ups and downs – ups bringing great attendance and 1sts and 2:1’s in my grades and downs bringing well, you know, the opposite.

 

Anyway, the point is that first times have a big impact and I have certainly never felt like repeating my trip to the doctor and even recently when I have thought that maybe I should, remembering how it felt puts me off.

Mood Swing Central

27 Mar

That’s pretty much me over the last couple of days. I had planned one or two blogs about how I was feeling, after all that was why I had initially set out to start blogging in the first place, only for my mood to completely switch and leave what I had planned to write redundant. So let’s talk about the mood swings then.

Yesterday afternoon I had an overwhelming sense of happiness, the kind of happiness I usually feel when I ‘wake up’ after having been numb. In this instance I’d been feeling pretty numb since February, (I mentioned before how January was the last time I felt really good and ‘normal’) reaching a peak in early March and since then I’d slowly felt myself coming back to reality. Great I thought. Well unfortunately I was wrong because later on in the afternoon my mind just switched back to nonsense emotions of guilt, paranoia, worthlessness.

And it’s pretty much just cycled between feeling great and feeling rubbish.

I thought I’d include thismood swing t-shirt website as a sort of reference for a few things and pick out some of the things that have characterised just the last couple of days.

Loss of confidence

This one is so disconcerting. I can feel super confident in my abilities as a writer, hell as a person haha and then suddenly BANG it goes and suddenly my thoughts are feeding into

Feeling useless, inadequate or hopeless

pretty self explanatory.  Then I might jump to

Full of energy or ideas; moving quickly from one idea to another

which is, well, OK if I just stayed there. Finally, amongst others I had the dreaded

(thinking about) Spending money recklessly

it was quite a large urge, bigger then I’ve experienced in a long time. I would love to say I stayed strong with no help but the truth is I have no money for a couple of weeks anyway.

So yeah, a bit of a weird couple of days, I certainly don’t usually experience so many swings in such a short space of time.

Late Night Writing and My Tuesday Girl

26 Mar

Last Monday I had a tutorial with my screenwriting teacher at university. Getting feedback on your work is always nerve wracking but it’s one of those things you have to get used to, as is criticism. Imagine my surprise then as, sitting opposite my teacher, he flips his page of notes over and the only word I can see – written upside down from my vantage point – is ‘excellent’. Underlined. It was just the first 10 pages of the script but he also had the treatment so knew how the story was going to end. He then proceeds to tell me he thinks it’s excellent. I’m obviously pretty happy with this, I respect his opinion highly because he’s aTuesday screenwriting professional currently working in the industry. So I thank him and try to hide the smile dying to break out.

So obviously I resolve to crack on and I have a lot of added enthusiasm if a little tight for time. We only have to submit the first ten pages for this module plus the treatment and, being now fairly confident of a good mark could just leave it till May to finish, what with a dissertation to complete and the first quarter of a novel to redraft for my portfolio to. But I enjoy all the work – well the creative aspects anyway, the essay part of the dissertation is a pain – it keeps my mind occupied.

Anyway, typically I aim to do 5 pages a day when I’m working on a script project. It doesn’t sound much, to me it doesn’t anyway but it means that in less then a month I can have a project finished. Last week didn’t exactly go to plan so tonight I thought, tonight is the night to catch up, except I got carried away and now I’m on page 70 already which is great.

Now for something completely different.

It was only when I looked at the time that I saw it was gone 2am. Tuesday morning is here. As your mind is prone to do at these times of the night my thoughts wandered to a girl I used to see on and off. Every Tuesday afternoon I’d go and meet her for lunch. I don’t know why that memory is so strong tonight, just going for lunch and chilling, there are certainly other, more recent and noteworthy memories to think of. It turned out to be quite the rollercoaster with her in the end but right now I’m just thinking about Tuesday lunches and it’s quite soothing haha. This really has nothing to do with the first part of this post.

In fact this post really doesn’t say much at all does it.

Debt….

25 Mar

I get letters like these very regularly and have done for years. In a previous post I gave a response to this question

I have been enjoying activities that I know carry a significant risk of causing me problems later (e.g., buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or unusual business investments).

I’ve been burnt by all those things, apart from business investments, I’m not a businessman, a gambler (very occasionally these days), but not a legitimate business man.

I’ve gone through various emotions to do with debt. There was the initial ‘fuck it, who cares’ when I was accruing the debt, then the flat denial stage of ‘what debt’ when companies started catching up with me and the letters and phone calls started and then the slow, dawning realisation of ‘shit, I’m in a pretty deep hole here’ quickly followed by ‘I just give up, not just on paying back my debt, I give up on LIFE GODDAMIT.’

Now I look at it with a sense of ‘wouldn’t it be nice to one day be debt free?’ I mean, it would be a nice accomplishment. It would make the future easier I guess, my credit rating is appalling, well, actually I wish it was appalling but it’s worse then that.

I’m glad that I decided to take control and start talking to the people I owe money to and start paying back, even if they are minuscule amounts and even though I still get letters that come through from companies demanding payment of a debt that I don’t even remember.

And I guess that’s the part that still brings me down about it. The person who did all this wasn’t me, not the real me. I can’t even begin to fathom how I managed to get in this state. Not since I just kind of woke up one day and started to take control. Now I recognise the triggers of when I’m most likely to do something stupid anddebtdebt 2 I’m better able to deal with it and to be fair I feel I’m over those ‘blackout’ days and phase.

Still, when I type in my reference numbers to make a payment I feel like those numbers are my identity, like a prisoner, trapped in a cage.

Alcohol and Depression/Oil and Water

21 Mar

They don’t mix. I know this. I suspect most people know this. Why do then do I, like many others with depression, turn to alcohol so readily as a means of escape, knowing that in the long run you will definitely make yourself worse as you slowly slip into one of those black holes that epitomises a ’bout’ of depression that knocks you for six for varying degrees of time.

I suppose the first reason is lack of awareness of the problem. Apart from the fact that it took me a while to fully realise that I was suffering from depression, even after I did I didn’t know that alcohol was a ‘depressant’ that would in fact negatively impact on depression. Even after I did know this, and here is the key point, you can go for years, just like I and many others have done, and embrace the short term mood elevation of drinking. It is very easy to do this because alcohol is a big part of social life. When you are in a place whereby the thought of telling people you have depression is the last thing you ever want to do because you’re scared of the stigma, of being seen as weak etc. it is simply preferable and easy to fake your way through social interactions by embracing drink. In all honesty drink can just become a crutch that you can’t imagine doing without because of the escape it brings.

Of course I am reaching the point of my life where I am determined to start making new and improved lifestyle choices and decisions and one of those is shunning alcohol. I’ve been down that road so many times in the past that it doesn’t appeal to me any more. In saying that I have to be honest and say that in the course of this week I have slipped up drink wise, stemming from the fact that I still haven’t plucked up the courage to come out and tell everyone yet about depression etc. so in the course of being out and being offered alcohol I haven’t refused.

The journey has certainly begun though, writing what I have done for my life writing class, which is being workshopped in class tomorrow I think is a big step that will help in telling the people closest to me. I certainly know that turning around the habits of a lifetime will take a while to achieve but the willingness is there as areImage the beginnings of change.

Second extract from my life writing piece.

21 Mar

So this follows on from my previous post, which is the first draft from a piece of work for my life writing class which is being workshopped in class tomorrow. Life-Writing-Color

 

Still, I decided it would have to be a memoir written from the experiences to come, over the course of say a year, unfolding I guess more like a journal but with the memoir elements of touching upon the important stages in my life that have lead me to where I am today contained within it.  At least the hope of something positive to arise from the choices I now plan to make going forward is there. In the ensuing days I have of course asked myself the question ‘why write about it?’ I think the answer has various elements to it. Catharsis from writing being one. Adding my own story to the ones already out there being another. Depression has a nasty habit of not only isolating you but making you feel as if you neither have a voice or that your opinion means anything at all. In the grand scheme of things I suppose this is true, but the emotion of me reasserting myself, telling my story, having a voice, is both a strong one and a powerful driving force. It is certainly true that depression is something that is much more widely discussed than ever before and I wish to be part of that conversation, to give my version.  

Building a framework

OK, so let’s assume that you agree that you would like to read what I write, you’re probably looking to gain insight from what you read. How else can I aid this I thought? Well if you’re on a journey you’d probably like a few signposts right, to see where you are going and where you have come from etc. So I tried to figure out what these signposts could be. Signposts that would make it easier for you to engage. The answer came in the form of questionnaires. I came across the website http://counsellingresource.com/ and found a wealth of information and also questionnaires on depression, bi-polar disorder etc. Fantastic I thought, these will not only give me a base line from which to properly start from, but my progress could easily be tracked by taking the test every, let’s say two weeks. You’ll get an added sense of the variable nature of the illness and hopefully over time the scores would be getting better as I try to take control and manage it properly.

I took two tests, the ‘Goldberg Depression Questionnaire’, which came back with

Total score of: 69 (54 and up, Severely Depressed)

“You appear to be suffering from severe depressive symptoms commonly associated with serious depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or dysthymia.”

And the Tri-Axial Bipolar Spectrum Screening Quiz (TABS), which came back with

Total score of: 32

(13-64, With Both Depressive and Manic Axes Elevated)

Your answers indicate levels of experiences which are consistent with bipolar disorder, including those associated with both manic and depressive symptoms.

I will add that these were taken on the 11th March and that the preceding week had been one of those ‘rougher’ ones.

To be fair the results could do with more elaboration so here are a couple of questions from the questionnaires with my answers (the actual questionnaires are just tick boxes by the way)

4. The pleasure and joy has gone out of my life. (depression test)

This. This is one of the principle reasons for embarking on this project. They talk about ‘episodes’ of depression, or ‘bouts’. To be perfectly honest I’m worn out from it all, the constant cycle of boom and bust. The good times now are just horribly diluted by the knowledge that the demon is around the corner. I’ll give you an analogy. If my happiness was say a river, then depression would be what the river would be like after an oil spill. Now there’s thick, black, sludgy nastiness on the surface. Sure, the waters still there, you can reach for it but you can’t avoid the oil, your hand is still going to be tainted by it. Or how about, you know how once your mind realises that the fridge is making that whirring sound you can’t unhear it because you’re tuned into it? Well there we go.

 

3. I have been enjoying activities that I know carry a significant risk of causing me problems later (e.g., buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or unusual business investments). (Bi-polar test)

19. Some of the experiences listed above have caused me problems at work or in my social activities; led to arguments or fights; or left me with family, financial or legal difficulties. (Bi-polar test)

I grouped these two together for the simple reason that after thinking about them they, along with the question from the depression test, provided the stimulus for change. After thinking on the Several thousand pounds of debt, with a credit rating so far gone I can’t even get a ‘vanquis’ credit card, when I think about the failed relationships, the shrinking of my friendship circle, the jobs I’ve quit when the depression got bad but I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was struggling, the breakdown in communication with my family, that rather embarrassing trip to the STD clinic, not remembering the last time I was truly at peace and happy (alcohol excluded), I just feel this is a good time and place in my life to begin to try and turn things around or at the very least, learn how to cope and live with what I have.

So I guess the journey will now begin.

 

 

 

 

 

An extract from my life writing creative piece

17 Mar

It’s 8pm. If I’m going to make the 8’30pm train I really have to leave in the next ten minutes. I try to will my legs to move but they won’t. They won’t because my mind is set. It’s set and there’s a resolve there that has never been there before. I’m not going out tonight. It’s come right down to the wire as usual. The same question I always ask myself before departing for a night out is going round in circles inside my mind – ‘stay or go, stay or go?’ – the fight or flight reflex crashing into my consciousness. The flight reflex has always had the upper hand in the past – ‘You have to go, you’re committed now, you can’t rock the boat, they’re expecting you, you can’t just not turn up, the tickets have been bought’ – but tonight my legs still aren’t moving, so it continues – ‘they’ll be angry, you’ll be letting everyone down’ – I don’t care tonight, my position is set, I’m actually staying in, not only that….I cannot finish the thought, the flight reflex pipes up again – ‘do you really want to go down this road? Do you honestly think you’re tough enough, you’re weaker then you have ever been’ – I really am weaker than I have ever been, and for that truly bizarre reason, I think I am tough enough. You back a dog into a corner, even one that has never barked in anger before and make him truly believe you mean him harm, he aint going quietly. I’m not going quietly. Tonight the fight reflex wins. I pick up my phone, type out a message quickly, letting it go from my mind through my fingertips into the phone like a stream of consciousness, not allowing myself to think, just getting it done.

To: Simon

Date: 09/03/2013

Time: 8:06pm

Bruv my heads gone man i can’t face going out. Sorry mate not trying to annoy u guys but im properly unhappy. Will pay for my ticket. Been feeling fucked for time, feel like i want/nd to talk to some1 but cant with my mates. Drink don’t help. Im happier when im alone at the moment, gona switch my fone off for a couple days, il be on emails tho. Im just telling Lana that something came up. X

 

Ground Zero

I really did send that message and I really did turn off my phone, albeit for longer than “a couple days.” I had never spoken in such a way to a friend before. Reading it back there’s definitely elements of a ‘cry for help’ but more overtly it is me laying the groundwork to be able to come out and be open and honest with the people closest to me. The root cause behind this rather bizarre opening is depression. Depression with bi-polar tendencies to be accurate. I recently turned 27 and whilst the thought that I had crept over into the ‘late 20’s’ chapter of my existence really holds no sway over my outlook on life, there had been an undercurrent of dissatisfaction swirling round my mind for a few months. This dissatisfaction stemmed from the understanding of a fact that was at turns corrosive, disheartening and, in a plain simple word, sad. To put a time frame on how long “feeling fucked for time” is, the answer is nigh on ten years. Ten. Years. A decade.  What were you doing ten years ago? How much have you changed in that time? I’d wager you’ve changed A LOT. I know I have – except for one thing.

The actual idea for a memoir came about from an essay I had to do for my life writing class. In the course of this essay and class I came across definitions for things such as memoir, diary, autobiography. Definitions for things that I had taken for granted that I knew, such as

An autobiography tells the story of a life, while memoir tells a story from a life. Memoir is more about what can be gleaned from a few years or a moment in the life of the author.

Correct me if I am mistaken but my struggle with depression is certainly a ‘moment in the life’. Now of course I could speak retrospectively about my depression and work my way to present day, using that as a basis for a memoir and you and I can glean from that what we will. That to me though seems a rather hollow premise with an unsatisfying resolution along the lines of ‘and as I write the last words of this memoir, I am still riddled with depression. Take care everyone.’ Not exactly positive, not that everything and every story in life is necessarily positive.

 

I shall add more at a later datemeaning-of-life

I Turned my Phone on Today

15 Mar

Catchy blog title no?

Yep I turned it on, I went to uni, things were going well. If I took one of those depression questionnaires I spoke about yesterday at about 2pm I reckon the scores would have been better. But then I had a strange wobble in class, then on the way home. Like, I just felt emotional.

Hmmm, definitely the added stress from getting the courage together to start to make some proper lifestyle changes that will make my life easier playing a part here.

In saying all that, now that I’m home thing’s aint to bad at all. Been doing some work on my novel, my essay for next week is finished and Friday looks like it’ll be a nice, chilled evening.

Not the most riveting or informative blog ever today that’s for sure. Image

The past week/months/years

14 Mar

I said in my previous post that I’d try and write about my experiences with depression. I also said I was contemplating finally telling my friends about my depression – well that decision is yet to be made.

Anyway, anyone familiar with things like facebook knows that there always seems to be some sort of questionnaire doing the rounds about mundane things, such as ‘What character are you from the Big Bang Theory’ etc.

Well there are also questionnaires about depression at sites such as this

I haven’t taken one of these things in years and even then it was just out of curiosity, I didn’t really understand what was going on in my head at that point and just thought whatever was going on was just a phase. Yesterday though I took it seriously, answered honestly and guess what, I’m really depressed. Like really, properly depressed. Quelle surprise right?

Here, here and here are the results for the ones I took if you would like a look and I’ll copy in some of the questions below and say how they relate not just to yesterday but also for the past week roughly as at the moment I’m in the middle of what I guess you could call an ‘episode’? Hmm, not sure if that’s the term I’m looking for and in any case it’s a stupid term really, it just makes me think I’m the main character in the worst soap opera of all time.

Questions

16. I feel trapped or caught.

This is a very weird and horrible sensation. I feel this A LOT, like 90% of the time.

14. I’m getting too much, too little or not enough restful sleep.

This one is a bitch to deal with. The last time I had a run of good sleep was January time. Incidentally January was amazing, like I had maybe two/three weeks of absolute bliss where life felt good and natural again.

6. I have lost interest in aspects of my life that used to be important to me.

This particular question actually pissed me off because a) it is true and b) it is an ongoing thing. This one will definitely be a blog in itself soon.

17. I had crying spells.

I can remember four times very clearly where I have cried due to depression. They have been years apart and it has been uncontrollable, as in it didn’t where I was or what I was doing. Twice it happened in public and I had to rush to find somewhere quiet/private. One was last week but it was at night and it prompted me to start to re-evaluating things.

These have been exacerbated in the last week.

3. I have been enjoying activities that I know carry a significant risk of causing me problems later (e.g., buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or unusual business investments).

The destructive side that leaves evidence. Not good. In recent years I have made positive progress to keep myself in check when I go through the phases that lead me to do silly things. I haven’t had one of these incidents in a while.

I’ll leave it at that for now.Image