Am I About To Have Another?


At Eternity's Gate by Vincent Van Gogh

‘At Eternity’s Gate’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)

Last night was bad again. The black dog well and truly had me in his jaws and was giving me a good shake. The noises in my mind are getting bad again and the anxiety levels are rising.

The worst thing with the anxiety is that it becomes a vicious circle, one cause of anxiety is the rising anxiety level. It’s true that my anxiety levels rose steeply before my last mental breakdown and my anxiety levels are rising steeply at the moment. Mostly I’m anxious about increasing symptoms of another breakdown and anxious about it becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

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Suicide Is Painless


living_is

I could disagree

I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting here on this blog. Truth to be told my depression is currently so bad that I can barely write and when I do it’s so black and dark I can barely get myself to read it over, let alone edit it for public consumption.

I’ve just got over a two week stretch with a chest infection and bad asthma. It wasn’t helped when the first Doctor I saw gave me the wrong antibiotic for a chest infection and it got worse for a week before the right one started fixing it. I’ve been taking so much medication that my body is a mass of bad side-effects. I just tried to have some crackers, cheese and dip for a snack but the skin on the roof of my mouth is sore and it felt like eating daggers. I’m shaking constantly from the steroids and other drugs. I’m also having really bad postural hypotension so standing up is a slow and dizzying process.

At the moment my depression truly has me in it’s grip. I don’t see any reason to keep on living.

I think I make my biggest mistake of the day first thing every morning. I don’t think I can be blamed that my autonomic nervous system kept my heart and lungs working during the night. No, that’s not my fault, but every morning I wake up and open my eyes. Big mistake. On most days that also means I’m starting the process that gets me off to work.

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Life, Living, Depression And Why I’m Still Here


I should be dead now. I’ve been close. My life could have ended several times over the past forty years or so, a victim of depression, the mental illness problem that society constantly denies. I’ve been picked up out of the gutter by Ambulance officers having a massive asthma attack while stoned off my face on a combination of booze, pills and grass. I’ve imagined jumping off a balcony, I’ve thought of driving into a sandstone cliff, I’ve looked at a pile of pills.

Most people realise that suicide is the largest killer of young men under 25. Not many people know that suicide becomes a larger and larger killer the older you are – when measured as deaths per thousand of the population suicide is a bigger problem in older men, it’s just that other causes of death outrank it so we only hear about the young, where it stands out.

I had my first bout of depression when I was in high school though at the time I didn’t realise it was depression and nobody else did either. My mum realised I was not in a good place one day when she was driving me to school. I said:

I don't believe this is Wednesday morning, it feels like Monday morning.

It must have been the way I said it or something because she asked:

Why? What does Monday morning feel like?
Monday mornings I want to be dead.
Oh, that doesn't sound good.
I guess not.

Mum thought that this feeling was due to me “not fitting in” at school. Not fitting in was actually the three years of constant, savage bullying I underwent at Killara High. Killara High is a general public high school in a fairly affluent upper middle class section of Sydney. At the time it had a fairly good academic reputation and was certainly considered one of the best general public high schools in NSW (as distinct from selective public high schools like North Sydney Boys where my friend Robin was bullied).

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Which Way’s Home


Sanity is In

Sanity is In (Photo credit: Cocoabiscuit)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home.”

Well, the Daily Prompt is repeating itself again. Back in July they asked the same question. Then in my response I skimmed across a number of places that felt distant from home – some physically, some spiritually, some mentally.

This time I’d like to give you a piece of semi-biographical prose. Semi-biographical as I can’t really remember a lot about the time. It was April last year and I suffered a serious mental collapse. I ended up a long way from anywhere I could call “home” .

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Facebook Sucks


Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook log (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted the text below to my Facebook account yesterday. I don’t think it requires any more comment from me but I thought you might like to read it.
This long status update is by way of goodbye.

I have decided to (at least temporarily) close my Facebook account. I’m also not going to be tweeting or using LinkedIn.

I will be posting to my blog.

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Pep Talk


Purdue Cheerleaders at Dallas Pep Rally

Purdue Cheerleaders at Dallas Pep Rally (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “We all know someone who could use a pep talk… so write them one!”

A pep talk. “Pep” – the word is a shortened form of “pepper”. The spice has been known and used for thousands of years and is today the most widely traded spice. The phrase “pep talk” was first used around 1910 but had a surge in the thirties.

I think I’m the one that needs the pep talk. Here I am, recovering from major depression, suffering from constant anxiety, starting a new job, feeling alone and friendless.

So here goes.

My dear friend, you are incredible. Let’s list some talents and virtues.

  • You are a warm friend. You are caring and can be relied upon.
  • A wonderful father (just look at the result).
  • A romantic and generous partner.
  • You are extremely well read.
  • You’re highly intelligent.
  • An experienced and knowledgeable computer tech.
  • A decent programmer.
  • You quickly learn new tech.
  • When it comes to finding a solution you are dogged and determined.
  • A fun dancer.

When you are well you are capable of so much. You have an interest in so many things that give you joy. Theatre, literature, art, papercraft, Lego.

Finally, remember that major depression has hit before and you came out the other side. You are capable of rebuilding the shattered mind and once again becoming that amazing man.

So do it!

Getting It Out


Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express. What do you think the barrier was?”

This happens to me almost every time I sit down and try and write about depression, particularly my own depression. Just a few days ago I tried to write a blog post about the feeling of loneliness and isolation that sometimes overcomes me.

The words came out but they came out haltingly and didn’t ever feel right.

What are the barriers?

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Anhedonia – A Loss Of Pleasure


Depression

Depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things people find hard to understand with major depression is how debilitating anhedonia can become.

I’ve previously mentioned anhedonia here on this blog but just to remind you anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, music, sexual activities or social interactions. It is a symptom of major depression, indeed one of the defining symptoms.

Think about the things you do to relieve stress. Do you have some sort of hobby or pastime? For me, my hobbies were papercraft and Lego. I also enjoyed spending time watching good movies and high quality TV such as David Attenborough documentaries or “The West Wing”. I enjoyed riding my motor scooter and bicycle.

Most people when they are “depressed”, sad or stressed have something they can turn to. When those things, our hobbies, no longer give pleasure then it becomes harder to cope with the stresses of life. I’m still capable of those things, and sometimes still do them, but they no longer bring me joy or pleasure. They are at best time fillers and at worst another failure, a task I can’t complete.

Boredom also becomes a problem. If you no longer gain any pleasure from your pastimes then it is difficult to get through a long night. You can’t settle down and do anything and I often find myself starting to watch a half dozen movies without being able to settle down and watch one.

All of this adds up to a life that is at best grey. I end up defining a good day as “not unhappy” and a good experience as “not boring” rather than “happy” and “exciting” as those possibilities have left me.

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Could It Be?


English: Katy Perry performing "E.T."...

Katy Perry performing “E.T.” in Budapest on October 1, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After seemingly an improved mental state on my current medication for quite a while I have suddenly this week felt myself slipping back, felt myself slipping away into black moods. My insomnia is back with a vengeance, I’m waking early with no chance of getting back to sleep. It has left me wide awake but physically tired and shaking. I’m also back to weeping a lot over the past few days.

So what has caused this? Why suddenly are the old problems back? I can think of three possibilities.

The entire time I’ve been on my current medications the one thing I’ve continued to feel is anger and frustration. I’ve described the mental state the two combined have given me is “grey” and still leaving me without will or desire and still unable to find pleasure or fun but at the same time I find myself angry at the silliest things.

It could be that the anger and frustration have built up to make me say and do things I then turn into a black mood. I’m certainly harder to live with and I’ve said some things to Jessi that have upset her which then makes me feel terrible. The thought of driving off the one person who has stood next to me through all this is pretty upsetting.

The second possibility is that the stress of a job interview last week and anxiety about the preparation and now the outcome are weighing more heavily on me than I thought. I really want the job but truth be told I am lacking experience in Linux support for it and probably wont get it. That’s not good for me considering how I had to build myself up to get through the interview prep and the interview itself. Every rejection hurts a little more.

The third possibility is the one that interests me most since it deals entirely with the subconscious.

Last Sunday out of the blue I received a totally unexpected email. It was titled “Thirteen parts of the puzzle” and was just “I miss walking by your side, up the steps to The Wharf.” It was obviously from my ex, Sonia, who had left me in such a bad way that it triggered my descent into full blown major depression.

I had fired off both a quick reply and then a few hours later a quick short poem:

The Wharf
Ancient boards beneath 
My feet, white walls on
One side and bare bones
Of a mercantile
World long gone to sea
On the other lead on.Beside me the clack
Of heels and soft hand
In mine as we pass
Posters and photos, on
To an evening
Of shared art and joy. 

(A creative way of saying I remembered doing the same thing.)

I then pretty much dismissed it. It’s not the first time I’ve had a similar email out of the blue. Last October I got a link to Katy Perry’s song “ET” out of the blue. Back then it seems I quickly forgot about it.

Certainly there is a huge amount of mixed stuff associated with Sonia inside my head that has yet to be properly dealt with. The big one is the usual with a messy break up of dealing with the two different “people” – the one that you loved and made you happy while you were in a seemingly good and happy relationship and the person that caused so much pain and unhappiness at the time of the breakup that is so easy to hate.

A while ago, when the pain of major depression and loneliness was at it’s worst, I couldn’t help but yearn for the love and care of the first person while knowing that going back to that was impossible.

I had thought that while that stuff hadn’t really been dealt with that it had no effect on me stuffed away in it’s box.

So right now I’m wondering if right now, when truth be told I do feel a little lonely and friendless, that email has triggered some feelings that are not quite at the conscious level, that my subconscious is back to that yearning and churning up the old pain.

A couple of interesting data points.

I had no real trouble writing this post, I’m not sure if writing it made me feel better or just that the change from the early morning grey outside to a sunny day is responsible but when I went back to start the edit I found myself getting weepy when I was fixing the paragraph about Jessi.

So Jessica has quietly left for the day and won’t be back till after dinner she tells me.

Now I find myself finishing this up and totally stuck. I just started to call or SMS three different people to see if they were free for lunch or dinner but stopping before making a call or sending a message as I’m not sure I could cope with them saying no. Instead I sit here feeling lonely and weeping.

Thank You


English: A female doctor examines a child.

 A female doctor examines a child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).”

So what to be thankful for? I can’t be thankful for my health; my asthma is currently terrible due to the fires around Sydney yesterday and major depression isn’t fun.

People? Should I be thankful for my friends? I don’t feel I have friends I

rely on. I’ve often felt quite alone and unsupported over the last 18 months.

There is one person I’d like to thank. Many (many) years ago I asked a woman I was sharing a house with to recommend a doctor nearby and she pointed me towards a family practice in Enmore. There I found Sheila and for the last thirty years (almost) she has been my GP. A good GP is a blessing, a great GP is a miracle.

Sheila is incredible, not only is she a good doctor she knows all the best specialists and she makes sure to get feedback on how you like the people she refers you to.

Then there is the help she gave me when major depression hit early last year. There was a few months where she was seeing me once a week just so I could walk into her office and cry for fifteen minutes and she would listen to me vent my pain, talk to me and keep me grounded and here. Since she has spent many hours listen to me complain about side effects as we went through a half a dozen different drugs that didn’t work before we found something that did any good.

In this day and age she does house calls. She also gave me her mobile number once and told me to phone her, when I didn’t she called me.

Sheila is caring, thoughtful and can put up with a heck of a lot from her patients. I know over the years I’ve put her through a lot and I know that she cares and even worries about me.

So thanks Sheila.