When you think you are stinky …… and it’s just your mind messing with you

The fun game that having general anxiety disorder with an extra serving of panic disorder is that everything is always escalated to a Level 5 full blown event.

Right now I am well medicated and possibly in a place in my life where my depression is generally under control.  Generalised anxiety disorder and Panic Disorder are the two other horses of Depression — if one is running, the other two will usually follow — maybe not immediately but you will eventually hear their hooves.

This is not true for everyone but it is true for me.

When I am at my worst, at my most vulnerable, my panic and anxiety kicks in to just shatter me totally.  I can tell you that it breaks you — you think you are strong enough to withstand that onslaught, but it humbles you.

You find yourself sitting on the edge of the bed crying “I can’t do it, I just cannot do this today ….. I can’t do this anymore….” and you are really really sobbing.  But you need to get your facade on and do what you do.

When my depression escalates, then so does the anxiety and the panic.

I have had some moments where there has been an escalation in anxiety or panic but it has not been as bad as it was before 2013/2014 — when things were just rampant mania all the time.

The problem with the disorder is that it escalates everything into the worst possible case scenario that you could imagine.  It never gives you rainbows and glitter, it gives you blood and bone shards.

It doesn’t even need to be taken there, it just does it in one giant leap.  And you are there.  100% committed.

When you have all three of them running rampant, basically all day you are being faced with a variety of calamities (granted most/all are imagined — but you can’t see that).  Your body is going through the emotions each time.  Each freaking time.  In full technicolour.

If you arrive to fetch your child and they are not where they are meant to be – your brain tells you that they have been taken, by some random non-friendly stranger, and it is all your fault because you are a shit mom/person who picks up kids.

When actually they are just in the toilet.

The problem is this sort of thinking goes on all the time.

I first became aware of it was when Connor was around one — going anywhere with him meant he would die.  We could go to the mall, and he would not get lost, he would be stolen.  We could go to the Blue Peter and I was afraid he would stand on the little wall, fall and then die.

And that was my life.  Me living through various permutations where they all ended in him dying.

Every event becomes the world ending.

The smallest most insignificant thing makes your brain push out as much adrenaline into your system as possible to cope with the threat that is approaching.

It really is an exhausting state to be in – your mind is constantly working out every possible permutation.  Every permutation has an outcome, or number of outcomes.

Your brain is running through each of those — not just in a a “hey what might we do here” but in a full body and brain 100% experience.

You are going through this event, and your mind and your body is dealing with each permutation — each flaming one as if it is actually happening.

It is beyond exhausting,  You are a total wreck.

I did a lot of cognitive behavioural therapy which is really good for many things — and especially good for changing the way you think.

It challenges your “knee jerk” reactions.  It asks you to look at a situation and in a very sober way talk through what is actually happening and not what you think is happening.  You never quite adjust to the fact that it is your mind that is damaging you.

My biggest issue — or the part where I lost so much energy was “what does the other person think of me” —- oh sweet Clarabelle, that was just a quagmire of filthy mud that sucked you in the further you went.

The process to out think that was quite simple:

  1.  How do you know what that person is thinking?
  2. No, how do you really know what that person is thinking.
  3. You don’t.
  4. But even if that person is thinking you are bad/stupid/stinky/what ever — why does that one person matter?
  5. And what indication have you been given that is actually what they think of you (to which every anxious person yells “I know, I just freaking know…” and then burst into frustrating tears)
  6. Eventually you get to a point where you admit that you actually do not know — this may take several minutes of repeating the same thing.
  7. Okay —so if that person is thinking you are bad/stupid/stinky — does that mean you are one of those things because that one person might think it?
  8. And there is normally when your head bursts open like a soft boiled egg.
  9. So even if that one person believed something bad about you — how important is that person in your world?
  10. Does it matter what that one person thinks?  (again normally anxiety driven people with paranoid overtures are throwing themselves on their psychiatrist’s carpets screaming …. it does, god dammit, it does)
  11. So does that make you the person that they think you are —- just because that one person thinks that?
  12. This loop can go on for ages, but you sort of get the point of it — more or less.

Anyway the conversation goes along these lines — in the beginning this loop could last 45 minutes as you argue each point as to why you are stinky or what ever.

Eventually — eventually —- you start to realise that you cannot control what other people think.

You do not know what they are actually thinking, you cannot spend time worrying over it as it will cripple you in every avenue of your life and more importantly you know you are not stinky so you don’t need to worry about it.

Keep telling yourself “I am not stinky” and then eventually (I haven’t got there yet) your brain will start to rewire itself.

The point of this story is the estate agent I rent from sent me an SMS saying when can he call me – I said “right now” and then he took about 30 minutes.

In that 30 minutes I had decided that he was going to kick me out of the house I am renting, and I would have two weeks to find something else, you know because I am stinky.  I got into a total panic — well, because I am stinky, and the prospect of finding something to rent just seemed an inconceivable idea right now.

My water usage was off the charts and they needed me out of the complex.  I had been having too many rowdy parties at my home and other tenants had complained.   I parked my car really badly each day.  My car was too dirty by the standards of the complex.  He found out about the floating shelf I put up without permission and that was the final straw.  Just add on any random bullshit you can think of.

In the 30 minutes whilst I was waiting for him, I kept checking my phone and running through all the worst permutations in the world.  I also got two emails from Pam Golding (not my estate agent) for properties to rent and that just added more fuel to this flame.

Of course when I spoke to him he just wanted to know when we could meet so I could sign a new contract.  I nearly collapsed not from being relieved, but because I was so freaking exhausted.

For fuck sake — I need to stop this “I think I am stinky” bullshit.

Dealing with depression, anxiety and panic disorder is an everyday lucky packet — it is always a journey you are moving through.  You learn to manage it, you learn to manage the way you react, you manage to learn from your mistakes – the third one is probably the most constant.  Sadly the other part is that people with depression, anxiety and panic disorders are incredibly hard and unforgiving on themselves.

The thing I have learnt in this process is that there are people around you who use your disorder to their advantage.

You get blamed for things that are not your fault, but because you cannot distinguish easily between what shit is yours and what isn’t — it is very easy to take on other people’s shit.

Your boundaries are all wonky.  You know because you are stinky.  You are primed for situations where other people’s stuff becomes yours and your brain cannot differentiate between what to keep and what to toss.

You easily become the person who is always full of shit of having shit — when in reality, it isn’t like that.

For anyone out there who is going through this, or is living with someone who is going through this —- that person needs a cushion, they need a safe harbour, they need a place where they can feel safe and taken care of.

Just a place or a moment in time where they constant worrying can lift — where they can maybe have just one thought in their mind and not the 3157 that are presently running and replicating as we speak.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but watch someone spin their heels until they eventually get the help they need.

You can keep reminding them that you are there for them —- that you are really there.  And you will be there for them when they get to the other side.

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Hello darkness, my old friend ….. I’ve come to talk with you again

I have been listening to the Sound of Silence on repeat for about two hours now.  Probably not ideal.

I am a chronic depressive.  With a side order of general anxiety disorder, and social phobia.  I have a touch of something that cannot be defined but Ritalin takes care of it.

I have not slept “naturally” since 2008.

I take medication to go to sleep and another set to keep me asleep.

I realise you don’t need to know this, but here is the thing.  There are so many people around you that suffer with one or all of these maladies, that it is about as common as a fungal infection.

The difference is that someone will tell you they have a fungal infection.

There is so much embarrassment in telling someone that you are not coping and you need help — the result is a lot of people don’t seek help.  They quietly try, and try to get on by themselves.

They wake up each morning, take a deep breath and try to get through the day.

Some get through the day.  Others are not that lucky.

They are embarrassed they are not coping — so they hide it as long as they can —- until they can’t.

Some choose to end their lives.

This is what this post is about.

Suicide is not the easy way about.  Suicide is not because you are selfish or cannot do something.

Suicide is what happens when you get to the end of your rope.  When you need the pain to stop.  To just stop.

And it is the best option available to you at that moment in time.

The darkness that normally creeps around the edges of your existence, starts to bleed into the all of you.

Depression is an illness whose main function, each day, is to try to kill you.

I know it sounds ludicrous — unless you have been there.  Unless you have felt those cold unforgiving fingers wrapping themselves around your everything, you cannot imagine what it feels like – how your internal dialogue is so painful, so unforgiving, so intent on trying to make you hurt yourself.

Finding the right psychiatrist is part of the trick.  Being on medication that can stabilise you, goes a long way to keeping the demons at bay.  Or at least in check.

Having someone to talk to  – ideally a psychologist is also very helpful.

You need to speak to someone who understands your condition — who knows what your triggers are.  What sends you further into a spiral, what pulls you back from the edge.

I cannot explain my depression.  I cannot always identify what is going to set it off.  I will often be high functioning, catching balls, doing great and something will creep up on me. Kick my feet out from under me.

It isn’t always something big that floors me, sometimes it is something that is irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.  A hurtful word.  A sense that something is happening to me.

Then the slow, or rapid, decline will occur.  The demons get louder and more insistent.  Egging you on.

Your ability to hold them back gets more and more exhausting.  Until one day, you just can’t. Anymore.

You function, because you must.  The depression brings the suicidal thoughts.  You start to map out a plan.  It’s usually not a big jump, as most depressives always have a suicide plan.  Always.

Mine is a pick ‘n pay bag of medication I have horded for years.

I believe that suicide via this route has a 2% success rate.  Not ideal.  Depressives have an unusual amount of knowledge on this subject.  Not because they have a pinterest board.

For a few moments each day their brain is telling them something about suicide.

If you suffer with depression — please believe that you are not alone.  There is nothing broken about you — you are just wired differently.

One of the worst feelings is when the demons isolate you.  They make you feel alone as you cry in the shower, or stand in the bathroom at 2am and sob, and you don’t even know why.

You. Are. Not. Alone — though your demons will constantly try to convince you that indeed you are.

They will work really hard to make you feel alone.  Isolated.  That no one cares about you.  That you are not worth anything. That you are not worthy.  That all those things that peoples say about you are true.  That all the horrid things you think about yourself are true.

You will only hear the negative things — and believe them.

You will not be able to hear the parts that you need to hear : You are worth it.  You are incredible.  You are loved.  You are needed. You are brilliant.  You are beautiful.  You are wanted. Every day you add value to someone’s life.  You are …. worth every moment.  Every breath.

The demons do not want to you to believe that.

Somehow you need to dig yourself out of this dark, damp and fetid pit — somehow.

Just get to the top.  Get to the part where you can see a bit of light —- where you can take a breath.  Regroup.  Find your strength to fight your demons.

I am not here to tell you it is easy.
I am not here to tell you that you will win.

I am here to tell you that if you can find oxygen, and look around, and see your children’s faces and the laughter of your friends, you will know that you can do this for another day.

Maybe it isn’t your children you see.  It might be the smell of lavender, or the feeling of someone who truly loves you wrapping their arms around you.  Holding the part of you that just needs to be held that day.

All you have to do today is get through today.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it is easy — it is a fight for survival.

There will be bullies who will hurt you.  Sometimes these bullies will be in the cloak of friends and family.

There will be people who will know where your soft spots are.  They will stab you for no other reason than to prove they can.  To show you that they are stronger than you.

Life will not be fair to you —- your demons will be stronger than you can believe.  Than even you could prepare for.

No one will be there for you when you need them — when your demons are winning.

Try to hold on — try to find the strength to take a breath.  Just one.  Then take another, and repeat.

My lowest has been the thought that my children will grow up without a mother.

Even though often I think it will be easier for them.  That I am the fek up.  I keep being told I am, that I am the failure.  That my life is a series of failures.  That I am the thousand other things that I have heard from sometimes my nearest and dearest ….. and sometimes just from my inside voice.

My best so far is being told that I am giving my ex a reason to take my children away from me, because I have tattoos.

Paranoid thinking is one of the horses of the apocalypse.

I think if it wasn’t for my children I would have exited this game a long time ago.

If I go ….

My concern is that they will grow up without me.  They will not know how much I love them.  They will not know how often I look at them when they are sleeping and my heart swells so much that bits of it leak out of my eyes.

They will not know how much I adore them — every little part of them.

I sit next to them and all I think is that “I did good here, these are great kids” — I broke the cycle.

My “hold me back” is that I do not want my children in therapy because they think they were not enough.

That somehow they were to blame.

That somehow they could have done something.  Else.  More.  Different.

I do not want THAT on them.

I don’t know the answers to this freaking curse that is depression.

I know what the blackest black looks like.

I survived today —- this year has been epic.  I have had so many situations where I have been whacked on my arse — stood up and been whacked again.  To the point where lying down and just taking shallow breaths seemed like the most apt way to get through the day.

I have been at my final hour this year — several times.

I have someone to talk to — someone who understands. Someone who understands how hard this year has been, someone who understands how hard I have fought for this breath, with every fiber of my being.

Thank goodness for her — and her wisdom.  Her continued support.  Her knowing I need help and reaching out to me actively.

If you are struggling with depression, do not use your embarrassment to keep you locked into this.

I can’t guarantee that the person you talk to is going to be the right person — sometimes people give you shitty advise and they have no idea of the damage it is doing to you.

But there are people you can talk to.  There is a person for you.  Someone who will hear your pain and listen to what you need.

There is a way to get out of the hole — or at the very least for someone to throw you a life line. A moment where you can catch your breath.

Depression is  a disease — it is trying to kill you.  Every day.

Get help —- in what ever form you need.  Today.

If you can’t —– for what ever reason, then, take a moment today to be kind.  To yourself.

Allow yourself to just be.  To think a good thought about yourself.  For a moment to really believe there is something good about you.  That you are enough.

Just one good thought can plant a seed that can start to help you heal.

Every day you heal is one more day you get to breath.  One more day you get stronger than your demons.

{Because I am a depressive, doesn’t mean I need to be treated with kid gloves.  I am a roaring strong individual that has overcome and continues to do so.  I would get annoyed if someone treated me like delicate china  — the catch with a depressive is that it is often is not the big stuff that breaks us, it is the small irrelevant stuff that shatters us…. be kind to someone today, you don’t know their journey or their battles}

Depression and exit strategies …….. the holy grail of depression sufferers

black dog

I was speaking to another “depressive”(someone who suffers from depression – usually with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and possibly Stress thrown in for shits and giggles — I might have just made that word up, but it seems to work, so I am going to leave it there) a week or two ago and we were chatting about shit and things and really playing catch up.

We had not seen each other in quite some time, so it was a very nice catch up and we did spend a lot of the time laughing, and snorting.

The conversation took a turn and we started speaking about the fact that we both suffer from Depression — not the “here take one pill and call me in the morning kind” but the sort that takes you 13 years of therapy to really understand what it is you are working with.

Years of enduring shitty therapists to eventually find the good one who was able to really guide you and assist you.

Years of the wrong medication, in the wrong dosages to eventually find a fantastic psychiatrist who understood you. Who saw you at your worst, and built you up from a shivering shaking rambling idiot to someone who could almost pass for normal.  And not spill tea on his rug.

Years of guilt of what you were exposing your family to.  Years of feeling that you were a burden – you are a burden, nothing you do will change the fact that you are such a burden.

Hiding your depressive episodes because you feel your family and friends are so “sick of your shit” — when in reality you cannot hide a depressive episode for all the Zoloft in the world.

We had different journeys but they were similar in many respects.

Then strangely the conversation moved onto “suicide plans” and we almost in unison agreed we each had our own plan.

A plan we had been harbouring for years.

I am not going to speak for all Depressives here, but I think it is often something that most people do not realise about people with Major/Chronic Depression.

We have a suicide plan.  Or most of us do at any rate.

Most of us think about our plan once a day or maybe once a week.

I think about my plan in the same way I would think about whether I need new toothpaste.  Just something to tick off the shopping list.

In some cases “the plan” is quite elaborate and in others it is beautiful in it’s simplicity.

Suicide – contrary to popular belief does not need “a reason” or even “a really bad spate of depression” and is in most cases not a “cry for help.”

I think people with chronic depression do not see it as a way to get help, they see it as a way to leave because the blackness has just become too much.  And they cannot see any light at the end of the famous tunnel.

Depression is a life long illness.

It drags you into a black sinking hole where you no longer can see anything, there is no hope of small spark of light.  It is just this heavy blackness where no light or hope can pass.  You eventually start to accept that in fact there is not any light.

The blackness creeps over you like a shadow, and before you have realised it, you are enfolded in it’s robe of cold darkness and a sense of being alone – bitterly alone.

Nothing anyone says or does changes that darkness.

You feel alone.  You feel desperate.

You feel like that darkness will last forever.

You can not imagine a time when you were not being swallowed by that darkness, you cannot imagine a time when that darkness will recede.

You just cannot.

And sooner or later you cannot live in the bleak and desperate darkness any more.

blackness

Breathing is a challenge.  Faking it through the day is exhausting.

Faking it through your life eventually becomes unrealistic.

You also want to round house kick the next person who tells you to “just wake up happy….”

You do not believe you will ever get out of the hole.  So you start to think of how to just stop.  Everything.

You can be thankful and rejoice that you have the right medication, the right dose, and if you are in an emergency you just need to phone your Dr Psychiatrist and mention to the secretary that you are having a “self harm” kind of day, and an appointment will open for you almost immediately.

{Everyone do a huge clap for a great Medical Aid…..}

I have only phoned my Psychiatrist once with a “I need to speak to him” sort of day. And he magically opened a time slot in his already crammed diary because he knew that I really needed to speak to him.

My friend and I compared notes on the sort of things that we think about.

What worries us about committing suicide, what we factor in as a possibly route, time of day that would work, location and so on, and it was quite amazing how much of it was the same for both of us.

We actually laughed in a “this is really fucked up….” sort of way.

Then just to add strange, we both agreed we were technically in really happy places at this exact moment, but that did not stop the thought of an exit strategy being foremost in our minds.

Depression does not go away.

In my case, and I am thankful daily, my depression has really been under control for more than two years now, if not three.  I am on a good set of medication that I do not fuck with.

I stick to my medication.  No matter how good I am feeling, I do not tweak it, change it or think I can just miss a few.

My medication keeps me on track.  My medication keeps the black dog at bay.  For the most part.

Where I am in my head is generally a good place.

The only issue I am experiencing at the moment, is a very high state of anxiety, and stress that is influencing my sleep patterns.  And a lack of sleep or a shift in my sleep is a huge red flag of concern — I do not function well without sleep.

I realise that last blog post might not have echoed that sentiment, but I am amazed at what I have coped with in the last two years, and how much I have risen above all this shit to be more of who I have wanted to be for a very long time.

Some days I do feel like I am drowning.

But those days are few, and they usually are limited to days.  They do not start to turn into weeks and months, like before.

I am far happier than I used to be — again I realise that based on the last blog post that sounds like a whopper of a lie —- but my job is not to convince you of it.

I feel happier in the inside part that really matters.

I have a clearer idea of who I am.  I do somehow even when the days are tough, I do still feel happier with who I am.  Now. Than who I was before.

Sure I have an exit strategy ….. and I realise how insane that sounds.

How can I be happy if I think about suicide?

It is actually possible.

depression comix

{…… thanks fuck all dopamine or serotonin or what ever else my brain cannot manufacture or absorb ….. }

Blogging, staples through balls, and other analogies …..

merry go

 

I am battling to blog.

It is not like I do not have a thousand thoughts running around in my head, which are screaming to get out.  I have all of that.  I have the hamster on the little wheel thing that makes that annoying squeaking sound as well.

My head is a mess right now.

I like to think that I am adaptable by nature.  I can change when shit needs changing, and I can set a new course if I have to.

But.  My anxiety and stress levels start to climb with each little adjustment I need to make.

I am best left to get on with my life with as few changes as possible, and if changes are needed, then a bit of time  between each to allow me to adjust before I make another little tweak.

I can change my course, I can set new goals, but with each amendment comes a certain level of stress and anxiety that sooner or later builds towards a bit of a cluster f&ck.

It’s really just a matter of time. As each block is added, and I do my best – my utmost – to balance it all.

It’s like playing Jenga on roller skates.  If you skate like a three year old with a broken leg.

A lot. A bit like that.

I am not going to go back and check what I last blogged about and play catch up.  Let’s just call it bygones shall we.

My rock of stability, Priv needed to leave me last month.  I managed that like a fucking demon.  I acted like it was not a problem, and I would just adjust my little sail.

Because that is me, superman without the underpants.  Or the cape.

Priv leaving was seriously an adjustment with a capital F.

I am not a fan of Christmas, especially the new version – without a husband and children.

Last year I had no idea where I was going to be and it was my turn (first turn) to have the children over Christmas, and I panicked.

Please bear in mind for the last 20 years Kennith’s family have been my family.  Long story, but my family is sort of in short supply and festivity days can be a bit like a scene from Dinner for One.

So in one foul swoop not only did I get a divorce and an ex-husband, but I managed to secure an ex-family that had been part of my life for 20 years, who now barely realise I have fallen off the side of the planet (for the most part).

There are several levels of “this fucking sucks” that I could bore you with, and I might later, so let’s take a raincheck shall we.

Last Christmas (sung to the tune of the old WHAM classic ….. I hope that sticks in your head all day now) I was a bit scared of giving the children a sucky Xmas.  I asked Kennith if he would like to take them for Christmas Day, which he did.

I swapped the day out.  I did not think ahead, I simply thought of that Christmas and what I could offer my children, and maybe also my sanity ….. and I felt it was probably better for them to be with him and his family for Christmas.

I ended up having a really lovely Christmas day at a friend of mine, but at one point I was looking out her window at the view and then I started to cry.  Not pretty tears.  Big open mouthed silent cry and shoulders heaving kind of crying that just went on forever.  Okay not actually forever, it just felt a bit like forever as I tried to do it quietly so no one else would notice.

This Christmas swung around as all Christmases do, and Kennith started talking about him having the kids for Christmas Day.  I sort of put my hand up —- tentatively —– and said “er, you had them last year, so I should have them this year…”

Kennith reminded me that I asked him to take the kids last year.

And I said, sure, but I was a bit of a fuck up last year, and I gave you the day.  Kennith has a phrase that he says which makes me want to kick him hard in the groin area (swift uppper kick, rather than a downward action) and it is “That was your choice …”

It’s the kind of thing he would say if my house burnt down and I ran in to grab the family photographs, and then complained later that I did not have a couch.  You know, because of the fire thing.

He would add a helpful observation like:  “That was your choice …”

Anyway the result is that I get 0 for 2 this year, and Kennith has the kids for Christmas Day.

To say I was a little disappointed, annoyed and frustrated does not even hint at it.  I am attempting to put on a really stiff upper lip and a vibe that I am sort of cool with this shit —- when the answer is, er, no I am not actually.

But there is nothing I can do about it.  So suck it up, and move on.

There was another issue around Christmas, that got the Christmas Day we had planned cancelled.  That was another example of me adjusting my little sail and setting a new course.  And adding some deep resentment to the picture (just when shading, not when colouring in the whole tree).

I am able to adjust — but cheese and rice the anxiety and strain starts to build without any real outlet.  I am starting to feel a bit desperate.  Possibly why I am blogging at 01h27 and not asleep.  You think?

Kennith and I are in “discussions” about the way to move forward with the house.

This requires possibly some huge huge adjustments.  Like Titanic sized adjustments and decisions.

None of them I particularly want, but I feel a bit like my balls are being stapled to a wall and I need to stop further staples being applied.

I realise I do not have balls, but it is the only analogy I have.

At the moment I feel an over riding urge to {sigh} loudly and say FUCK IT ALL – using the tune from Let it Go made popular earlier this year, but I know that my singing is going to offer one iota of a solution or relief.

As an adult you cannot slam your door and throw yourself and sulk your problems away.

You still have to get up in the morning and face some real whoppers, and make decisions you do not want to make, for results you do not want, but again …. balls stapled to a wall.

I am not heading into this festive season in a terribly festive mood.

And for that I apologise.

i hate when people