Tag Archives: mood swings

The unsubtle knife

15 Jun

As always the challenge comes not when times are good, but in times of adversity and it is here that I hope I can take strength from the last year and a so of my life and remember that, when I am making a real, concerted effort life is better and indeed fun. When the next bout comes I believe/hope I’ll be able to deal with it.

 

Those are my words from the end of this post, where I talk about taking back control. In the last week and a half I have had my first, and what I knew would be inevitable, brush with adversity.

It started in the usual way insomuch as that I could feel myself slowly being sucked into the black hole. Alongside this I could also recognise the patterns of behaviour that accompany it – the sudden unreliability as I struggle to fulfil plans I made when I was feeling myself, the sudden disruption in the quality of sleep coupled with the lack of energy and appetite, plus leaning towards a drink or two for a quick mood fix and of course my old personal favourite, spending money for the same mood elevation reasons.

As I already knew these bumps in the road would appear I’ve almost been waiting for it, to see if I could force myself to react differently – to put in motion what I hoped would become a new norm in the way I deal with things.

Now I realise that above this I listed the things I found myself doing and it would appear that all has not gone well but in reality, I have certainly cut short the length of time I normally spend doing these things. I’ve twice forced myseIMG_0277lf to keep plans I made even though I really didn’t want to (I also failed a couple of times in this regard), as well as keeping myself active.

I mentioned previously how important exercise can be in keeping your mind healthy and so, alongside starting to run again I signed up with a friend to do my first 5k at the end of this month, as I believe goal setting is also an important part of keeping your mind ticking over.

The way I see it at the moment, I think this current episode will always be a benchmark I measure against in the future because in all honestly, this has been one of the worst, sudden onsets I can remember.

The picture I have used to accompany this blog is taken from ‘Life of Pi’. The character Pi is talking about fear and how it can take you over and conquer you but suffice to say, for me he could easily have been talking about depression.

I was on a train on Thursday to Charing Cross to meet a friend when it hit me – a feeling of complete despair – hopelessness like I haven’t felt in years. It cut right through me, it felt like I had too much weight on my shoulders to handle whilst my insides felt like they were sinking, being pulled down into nothingness. It felt like all my thoughts and words were coagulating – they became thick in my brain and impossible to vocalise or shift away from a feeling of dread.

Nonetheless I have persevered and forced myself to go for a run yesterday and even though I still feel devoid of energy (even after spending 14 hours in bed last night/today, which is exceptionally bad for me) I am still going to watch the football with my friend tonight.

Lets face it, I know what the alternative is, especially during an episode such as this. I must force myself not to react in the same way because that would be admitting defeat and being out with my best friend is the better choice.

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Attempting To Take Back Control Of A Life With Depression

20 May

My blog updates here have certainly dried up recently. There are two reasons for this, the first of which I mentioned in my previous post, namely that I had a lot going on with finishing my degree.

The second reason is that I have been thinking about a lot of things in my life and making some decisions. The first big decision was making a real, concerted effort to try and get back to a happier, healthier state and frame of mind.

Every bout of depression is different in its severity and a bad one can leave a long lasting, residual mark on your mentality that can lead to unhealthy and unhelpful wallowing.

Looking back and analysing the last few years, I could clearly see the point where I was happiest, and it coincided with the time that I decided to make a real effort. Obviously that isn’t rocket science but a bad bout certainly derailed me and it all lead to me beginning this blog.

What exactly do I mean about making an effort? Well it means not coasting and really taking control. If I’m completely honest a kind of ‘woe is me’ attitude was setting in and if I’m really really honest, I have to admit I was sleepwalking through a vast majority of my final year of university.

So in the last couple of weeks I’ve made an active effort to ‘wake up.’ I’ve been readying my writing portfolios and have started looking for freelance work whilst continuing on with my novel and scripts, plus I’ve started doing other simple things like exercising again.

Regular exercise is genuinely such a great tool in fighting and coping with depression. Getting back into the shape I was, regaining the muscle I lost when I was wallowing is not only a great self esteem boost, the endorphins from exercise really are a great, natural buzz. I’ve also taken control of my alcohol consumption which is a huge step.

When it comes to my writing/professional life, all of that side is in my real name and does take up a lot of time so this blog will almost certainly revert to being updated once a week at best, but I’ll be keeping it as an outlet.

As always the challenge comes not when times are good, but in times of adversity and it is here that I hope I can take strength from the last year and a so of my life and remember that, when I am making a real, concerted effort life is better and indeed fun. When the next bout comes I believe/hope I’ll be able toKeep-Calm-and-Take-Control deal with it.

 

I had to go with a Rocky video here didn’t I haha.

Council Estates, Ex Girlfriends, love and Uni

17 Apr

I try to keep my posts focused on one thing at a time but on this occasion there are a few things on my mind.

I’ll start by saying that today was a lovely day here in South London; it was sunny and warm. You often hear how the weather can affect your mood and I always forget just how true this is until those first proper sunny days appear and you really do feel better about things. It just puts a nice tint on your emotions; even those things that are making you feel rather melancholy can be diluted down in their effect by filtering them through the happier disposition the sunshine can give you.

I was travelling on the train today, going through Norwood Junction, Crystal Palace, West Norwood, Gypsy Hill etc on the way to Balham.  I grew up in these areas, specifically a council estate in West Norwood; as I looked out of my window at my old stomping grounds I felt this pain deep within me, this void that I feel and know could never be filled. I was thinking about the council estate I grew up on and how I wished I could go back; experience it again as I was when I was younger, when things were so much more simple. My mind was sound, I had a happiness that I doubt I’ll ever recapture, a boundless enthusiasm for life I feel I’ll never rekindle. I rarely get such thoughts but today it was an urge that was – I don’t know – I’ve wracked my mind and the only word that comes close to describing it is an existential urge; probably because I know I can never go back in time but that somehow, some way I hope that I can experience those emotions again.

These days my happiness and forward thinking is filtered through the mechanism of simply coping; coping with depression, coping with bi polar, coping with a life tinged and tainted with an unremitting sense of ‘this wasn’t how it used to be, it used to be more fun but at least right now I’m doing OK because I know how to cope.’

As for uni, one of the other parts of this headline, I’m in the last two and a half weeks of my degree, which just seems strange. Three years gone but it feels simultaneously much longer but also that it has passed in the blink of an eye. Time is a strange concept. One thing that made me smile recently was that as part of my dissertation I obviously had to do an essay. I chose to look at Sherlock Holmes and why his popularity has endured through the years and unbeknownst to me there was a Sherlock Holmes story set in Norwoodwest-norwood1 called The adventure of the Norwood builder. After doing some research I found out that part of the story was in fact set in West Norwood, very close to where I grew up. Conan Doyle actually lived in South Norwood, again close to my local area.

Another point about Uni was that when I started I was going out with my most recent girlfriend. Tonight I met her for a couple of drinks; we still meet up quite often. She told me yesterday that she had split up with her current boyfriend (I briefly mentioned her in my last blog post). As much as I do not think we could work out (we were on and off for three years) I can never escape the fact that she was the one woman that I truly, deeply loved. I know she feels the same way because she says so but again love is a strange concept. Not complicated, just very…. strange is not the right word but I’m running out of steam now so strange will have to do.

Depression Update via Questionnaires

6 Apr

In this blog, I talked about how I would track my progress by doing depression questionnaires every couple of weeks.

Each time I do these I’ll be picking out a couple of questions from each one and expanding on the reasons behind my answer.

Last time for the ‘Goldberg depression questionnaire’ I scored a hefty 69. Anything above 54 is severely depressed. As you can imagine I wasn’t in a very good place. This time I got –

Total score of: 29
(22-35, Mild-Moderate Depression)

You appear to be suffering from mild to moderate depressive symptoms commonly associated with depressive disorders.

As you can see a marked improvement, tallying with what I have been describing in recent blogs. The improvement in my mood has been brilliant and has felt brilliant as it always does.  One of the statements you have to rank according to how it applies to you is –

2)  My future seems hopeless.

My answer this time was ‘just a little’ as I am scoring for the whole week but really today I could make that ‘not at all.’ The difference in outlook when you have come out of an episode is incredible and I plan to blog about these differences soon.

Moving on, my tri-axial Bipolar spectrum screening results last time were 32, which means –

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

This questionnaire takes into account how you have felt and behaved over your life so I won’t update this one for a while as I’ve blogged about the bipolar side recently in regards to money.

Finally we have another depression one but with different depression questions that I can talk about. This one is called the ‘Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)’ and last time I scored 41. Anything over 21 means a possibility of major depression. Like the Goldberg questionnaire it asks you to take account of the last week in your life.  This time I got –

Total score of: 17
(15-21, Mild to Moderate Depression)

You appear to be experiencing some mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

Again a huge improvement. As for one of the questions –

14. I felt lonely.

The crazy thing I find with my depression is that whilst you tend to isolate yourself when you’re going through it because you don’t want to be around people, you can also sometimes simultaneously feel this intense loneliness that really cuts right to your core. That feeling can even arise when you’re with people. It’s just a very unpleasant sensation.  At the moment though that sensation is a lovely distant memory.

As I said before I decided on doing these as a way of tracking my progress and to have some concrete signposts as I go forward.

Doing them this time was a much more enjoyable experience as I chart just how much better I have felt recently.

That’ll be it today I think. Signpost

Your own personal Judas, fear of silence and lack of sleep.

4 Apr

I am going to preface this post with the news that life is pretty good at the moment, the mood swings have levelled out and I’m in a pretty good place, which is helping in what is now the short sprint to the finish line of university. The only thing that hasn’t returned yet is a good nights sleep but that will soon ease its way back in I am sure.

On the subject of sleep, I thought I’d write a little about the fraught relationship I have with it and how these problems are underpinned by the mental issues I’ve discussed previously.

When I am in a bad moment, or episode, or whatever you want to call it, one of the first things to go is adequate sleep.

When your mind disconcertingly decides to play Judas and betray you, it is almost like you are under attack and what do people do when they are under attack? They seek refuge. I seek refuge in anything that keeps my brain occupied; books, writing, TV, films, computer games. At least the list is longer then the old list; Alcohol.

Now I enjoy all of those things anyway but I throw myself at them even more because of the fear of silence. Silence is where my low-self esteem, negative thoughts about life and many other silly things manifest itself in the shape of a constant inner dialogue full of self loathing and pessimism. Some of the thoughts that can enter your mind are just damn right distressing. So yes you take refuge in never being alone with your own mind and most nights I will finally pass out book in hand and get a few shoddy hours of sleep.

Soon the haze of tiredness clouds your view, like a particularly useless Instagram filter, adding to your general discontent.

The funny thing is, I really enjoy silence and taking the time to be alone with my thoughts, to think, when I am in a normal state of mind that is.

But, as I said, I am in a good place at the moment and I am sure sleep will return soon as my mind returns to a peaceful state.

 

uk-we-fear-silence

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.