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 ….. }

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Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves ……

Hearing that Robin Williams lost his fight to depression came as a reminder that depression is not some nancy pansy little problem that goes away if you try to be happy.

When (ignorant) people discuss depression and refer to it as an “attitude” and a “choice” I really get all sorts of riled up.

This perception that you can “choose to be a happy person”, that you can “choose to wake up happy” is really tiresome, ignorant and life threatening.

I overheard a discussion yesterday on the radio and the DJ’s were talking about depression and how their respective families view it. 

The one DJ says that if she says she is depressed her family tell her to go for a run and get some fresh air.

There were other really “helpful” suggestions as well.

I agree that often some behaviour does assist you to feel a bit better when you are depressed. But much of this is going to be a thin layer of assistance to a tumor that is festering inside your head and your soul.

Depression as a disease —as diseases go it is a very committed disease.  It has a clear goal.

Depression wants you to kill yourself.  That is what it is planning and trying to do all the time. Simple.  It is a mental disease that is trying to find a way for you to end it all.  It never lets up.  

I cannot put it any simpler.  Yes it sounds harsh, but that is what it is doing, and working at tirelessly.

I have been very lucky that my depression has abated for the most part for the last two or three years.

I can feel him there, scratching at the door some days, but for the most part, I get to function and get through my day without having the oppressive thoughts and feelings following me around.

This does not mean that I still do not think that “all is in actual fact lost” that possibly it is a better option to “just end it all” and that “maybe my life is not worth living.  If I leave now, it will cause less damage than if I leave later and people get too attached to me….”

I have at least one suicidal thought a day.  But it is usually fleeting, and does not take over my entire being.

I am not depressed at the moment — but because it is a permanent part of my fabric, my being, the thoughts and feelings creep into each and every day.

I have sufficient emotional resources – at present – to not let the nagging thoughts, the destructive thoughts, and the darkness from taking firm root.

I am lucky.  At the moment.

Depression is a bit like HIV – once you have it you always have it.  

You can treat it, and you can keep it under control as long as you stick to the strict regime (everyone’s regime is different) – but do not think for a moment that it has gone away.

Depression is a sneaky little bitch and will hide and make you think you have beat that bitch at hide and seek.

You may feel so good some days, even for weeks and then you think “I have beat this thing….” You slowly stop what ever medication or assistance you had been receiving, and sooner or later — usually far sooner than later, you find that it has crept back and invaded your life.

Just as you think that you are sitting on top of the world, it will unfurl itself and wrap it’s arms around you and start to squeeze tight — to remind you that your black dog is always there, waiting, waiting.  Biding his time.  No rush.  He will always be there.  Ever faithful.

Robin Williams —- a man who suffered from depression.  He made it his life’s work to make you and me laugh, at ourselves, at him and situations.  

Robin Williams’ comedy always had that “edge” to it — even at his funniest, there was a sense that his humour was not the “clown humour of the circus” but there was indeed something deep, dark, and complex lurking behind the face paint and bright red nose.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — is a lesson to me, that I am always at risk.  That I should never be complacent.   

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — reminds me that depression is not a fleeting bad moment, it is a life time of fighting and enduring.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — saddens me to my core.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — does not mean depression always wins, it just means that sometimes we lose that one battle.

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I read this article, and it is so brilliantly written – I loved the way it shows how it describes so eloquently how people who are funny are often using a mask to protect themselves.  

Their humour is a way for them to cope, for them to connect and for them to feel like they are accepted.

Please pop along and read David Wong’s full article on CRACKED.  

You ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you? Did it make you think they were depressed? Because it’s far more likely that, in reality, that was the first time they were comfortable enough around you to drop the act.

The ones who kill themselves, well, they’re funny right up to the end.

 

By now you know that Robin Williams has committed suicide, but I’m not here to talk about him. He’s gone, and you’re still here, and suicidal thoughts are so common among our readers and writers that our message board has a hidden section where moderators can coordinate responses to suicide threats. And in case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a joke — I remember the first time John tracked down a guy’s location and got an ambulance dispatched to his house. Then we all sat there, at 4 in the morning, waiting to hear if they got there in time (they did).

 

Because Cracked is driven by an army of aspiring comedy writer freelancers, the message boards are full of a certain personality type. And while I don’t know what percentage of funny people suffer from depression, from a rough survey of the ones I know and work with, I’d say it’s approximately “all of them.” So when I hear some naive soul say, “Wow, how could a wacky guy like [insert famous dead comedian here] just [insert method of early self-destruction here]? He was always joking around and having a great time!” my only response is a blank stare.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/#ixzz3AGAbNdxr

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Strange thing happened at McDonalds ….

craziness

Strange thing happened at McDonalds recently.

I popped in for a meal at a local McDonalds, and it was quite busy.  As I walked in I recognised this guy at the counter – the client side of the counter, not the “will you have fries with that?’ side of the counter.

It took me a few ticks to realise how I knew him.

I had spent a few weeks at a psychiatric clinic and he was a patient there at the same time as my “stay”.

He had some severe problems, and I chatting to him a few times.

+80% of the people at the clinic had issues that still allowed them to function in society – sure they may be a bit weird, and say all sorts of crazy shit, but who doesn’t?  Even in crazy land, you find people on your level of crazy and befriend them.  Then silently judge the people who are further down the scale in cray-cray land.

This particular guy was THAT guy.  His problems were severe in comparison to the “norm” of the clinic. {even crazy has a level of normal … who would have thought!}

I can’t recall what his diagnosis was, as it has been a few years, and really it is none of yours or my business.

Unfortunately psychiatric clinics are not dissimilar from high school.

The cool kids rule.  The kids who can’t keep their shit together get picked on.  Relentlessly.

My experience with psychiatric clinics is that there are a lot of young patients.  They form clicks. and make the kids who are on the lower rungs feel even more shitty about their existence.

Alcoholism and drug addiction trumps schizophrenia and depression any day of the week.  Much cooler stories with addiction than hiding under your duvet, and being too afraid to face the day.

Agoraphobia sufferers are clearly never invited to the cool kids table.

Let’s call this boy-man Roger for the purposes of this story.  He was ostracized and really “hated” by the other patients, and several altercations broke out at the clinic.

I felt really bad for him, and made a point of sitting with him at meals as no one else would.  I would sit with him at TV time, and then he would tell me the same story, word for word, over and over again.

I realised he had no memory past about three minutes when he was in a “bad state.”   When he was angry it was because he was confused or disorientated, and no doubt scared.

The best thing to do was speak to him, reassure him, and not get worked up when he got a bit “worked up” – many of our discussions followed this sort of format:

Him: “Nice pen”

Me: “Yes it is”

Him: “I have a pen just like that.”

Me: “Maybe, but this one is definitely mine.”

Him – searches through his pockets of his chinos.

Him: “I have lost my pen” looks at mine “it looks just like that” puts his hand out “give me back my pen….”

Me: “Maybe you have lost your pen, but this is definitely my pen – you can borrow it for a few minutes, while you are sitting here – but it is my pen, and you need to give it back, okay?”

… repeat conversation a few times …..

Though he really was very offensive when he was screaming rants, he was not a mean person.  He was just a young boy whose brain and chemical balance was just not right.  He really was struggling. His demons were far greater and louder than mine.

I could be him.  What if my son was him?  What if you were him?

Back to McDonalds.

Roger looks at me, and I can see his mind trying to place me.  I am silently begging him not to place me.

I can see he is agitated. I can see he is starting to do that body movement that is telling me that “all is not quite well over in Roger Land.”

Reunions are great, but reunions from the cast of “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are less so.

I just wanted my McRoyale Meal (with a Coke Zero, because that will cancel out the kilo joule count quite nicely.) I wanted to sit quietly, shove the chips in my pie hole whilst reading my book and try not to be pulled into this confrontation.

I order my food, and step back to wait for them to prepare the order.

Roger meanwhile is scratching in his McDonalds paperbag, and starting to get a bit twitchy.  I believe he wanted 10 sachets of tomato sauce, and they gave him 5.

He might have asked if there was 10 and the teller answered in the affirmative.

My guess is she is probably thinking “what NUTSO is going to eat 10 tomatoe sachets with one burger?”

Clearly she has never experienced quite this level of “please give me exactly what I asked for.”  She figured she’d just pop 5 sachets in the bag, and send him merrily on his way.

Teller at McDonalds did not get training in how to deal with a Roger customers during teller orientation week.

Roger went off – screaming.  Asking for names, explaining that no one should fuck with him and so it went on.  In full scream and going off at the counter.

He was beyond upset about the fact that he had requested 10 sachets, and he had received 5.  His mind just could not grasp how she had confused this request, and how she could not understand how 10 sachets were really really important to him.  Vital in fact.

I got my meal and went to sit down.  He screamed and ranted and used really really offensive language.  No amount of smiling and nodding was going to placate him.

He was really upset about the sachets.

I looked at him and realised that when you are all sitting in “morning ring” at a clinic of your choice you are all sorts of crazy.

Varying degrees of total whack-jobs being kept in check by close guidance of a medical professional and medication.  The reason you are there is because odds are you have either lost your shit at a McDonalds or are on the road to.

Roger finished his rant – and he was actually quite frightening.  I ate my chips and sipped my cooldrink.

I knew that by the time he got to his car, and drove home, he would forget that he had even been to McDonalds.  Let alone that he had screamed all sorts of shit at the staff and the random assortment of customers who stared at him slack jawed.

After the incident was over, the customers were talking, as one does when someone goes a bit shit faced in a crowded space.    One of the women who had been standing next to Roger came to talk to me and tell me how offensive he was, and that he was probably mad – not sure what is is about me that is inviting comment, when I just want to read my book and eat my stuff off a tray.

Seeing Roger made me remember how far down my “bottom point” had been.

How much it had affected me, and how afraid I am of ever hitting that “low” again.

I am lucky that the “bag of shit” that is my set of problems, are my problems.   I do not have to deal with what other people have to deal with on their average day.

And maybe before you/me/we jump to an assumption about someone losing their shit, you give some thought to what might actually be going on there.  Maybe.

Dexter …I’d marry you if there wasn’t laws against it ‪#‎bostonterrier‬

I have a sleep disorder that appears to be linked to my Depression and General Anxiety Disorder.  The short of it is that I am exhausted at night, but either cannot fall asleep, or I fall asleep and then wake up at about 02h00 and cannot fall asleep.

I have tried several things, but at the end of the day a good night’s sleep is often the cure for many of the ailments that we start looking for remedies for.

Being a funny old world, the less I sleep the more anxious and stressed I become.  Then the less I sleep.  Isn’t that a hoot?  No, not even a bit.

I take two sets of medication at night.  One to make me fall asleep.  And another to keep me asleep.  Works like a bomb.

With one unfortunate side effect.  I often get a strange amnesia before I drop off to sleep.  I appear to be functioning normally, but my brain has actually switched off, and I often realise in the mornings I have done some weird and less than wonderful things.

Yesterday morning I woke up to find that I had posted passionate devotions of love and potential marriage to my dog.  Along with a few photographs.  I am really glad the photos were of him and not “us.”

Listen, I like my dog, I am just not sure I am quite ready to marry him, just yet,

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My 4 Year old boy is on antidepressants and that’s okay …

I read this post today, and I was humbled and amazed at the bravery of a parent.

I am acutely aware of how difficult and fraught with misguided advice and criticism the decision is to decide to take “head medication” is.

For yourself.  As an adult.

As much as society bandies around the labels “depression” “anxiety and general anxiety disorder” over cocktails at the local.

When you go through the process and find yourself at the bottom of the dark pit, and your fingernails bleeding from trying to scramble out, and find that instead of making progress towards the light, you are sliding further back into the deep dank darkness of the pit.

For what ever reason you want to be “normal”, and also want to be able to cope with life’s little lemons in a happy bright sort of way – but then you realise at some point that maybe “normal” is an inappropriate level to aim for.  Maybe.

Surviving until 10h00.  Then 14h00.  Then until the kids go to bed, and you can climb into your bed, and just lie there and wait for Morpheus to come creeping.  You know how dark your darkest hour can be.  You know that when people tell you to “just be happy” or to “cheer up” that you would kill them with a spoon if it meant you could just be happy.

You have trying to be “happy” for years at this point, and it always seems to be like silver minnows swimming just below the surface of the water.  You catch glimpses, you keep thinking it is within your reach, but it never is something you can hold on to.

It seems okay to say you are depressed, but actually taking medication in the form of pills, every day, well that is just another issue.  Taking medication would mean admitting you really are sick.

And maybe not as “normal” as you try to look and feel.

As an adult and deciding this course of action for yourself is extremely difficult.  Even as society has developed and grown, there is still a stigma attached to being a bit of a loon and needing medication to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Of course there isn’t you scoff.

Yes, there is, I say.

Deciding that your child needs medication for depression, is something I hope I will never have to face.

I have enough baggage and guilt to deal with, without having to deal with the fact that it might be because of ME that my kids are not well adjusted and their brains are not able to adapt to the daily pressures of “normal” life.

Today I read about Shawn Roos’ piece and it made my heart jump – and my breath catch.

It’s a brave and insightful piece – read it:

Don’t let stigma and saving face stop you from saving your child.

We named Micah before we knew him, and as it turned out, around the very time he was born. My wife and I had decided to adopt and were filled with a sense of purpose. We met Micah in a chance encounter in the lobby of our church.

I remember saying to Nina as I looked at this 6 month old boy, rotund and all-cheeks “It feels weird looking at a child knowing that there’s  apossibility he may just become your child.” It’s an experience that only an adoptive parent will ever know.

Turned out I was right. Two months later, Simphiwe – now Micah – became our son.  Read the rest of this brave post here.

 

Parenting is not always about making the decision whether to go with the dinosaur or the pirate theme, sometimes it is about making those hard decision.

Our children need us to be parents, their guides, their pathfinders …. it’s difficult, and challenging, and not always a decision that we make easily, but not helping your child is not an option – how long do you wait and watch the damage continue before stepping in?

 

micah

The pitter patter of little black feet ……

Connor asked me yesterday if I am ever just sad.  Sad for no reason.  Just sad!

I told him I was, and it is okay to be sad, you do not have to be “happy” all the time, because people tell you to be.

He started telling me that he has felt really sad for the last two or three weeks.  He says he sits in class and it feels like a dark cloud comes over him, and he is just sad.

He doesn’t know why he is sad.  He doesn’t know how not to be sad.

He asked me what I do when I feel sad.

I said I tend to want to find time and places where I can just be alone, and have a bit of time and space to work through how I feel.

Sometimes it helps to do something you enjoy, even if you are not in the mood, because sometimes whilst doing what you enjoy, you start to smile, and then the cloud breaks and you get a glimmer of “feeling okay” ….

Connor has always been an old soul.  He feels too much, he values how you feel too much in his day.

I worry for Connor.

I worry there is a black dog sniffing around his door.

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Depression and Medication …. its a fun game of tag you are it …

1302_crows

I have been patting myself on the back lately as I seem to be on a good level emotional keel.

2011 was a year with a slow slide downwards, and then an eventual bottom out, that left me weeping and clinging to the edge of sanity with torn and bloodied fingernails.  I’d love to regale you with tales of how I conquered that shit, but that bitch kicked my arse and then came back to poke me in the eye!!!

In 2011, I built a close and totally dependent relationship with a psychiatrist who seemed to understand how to help me.  We worked through a few options of medication until we found the “most right for today” option.

I arrived in his office when I was shaking and jibbering, so he did have rather broken person to fix. I was convinced that there was not enough medication in the universe that would possibly help me.  But I was wrong.  Not the first time, not the last time.

The right medication is pretty unbelievable.  I was in an absolute state, and many of my symptoms had stopped being psychological, and had become physical symptoms.  I had neck and back pain that felt like spasms. I had also been clenching my jaw so hard for so long that my face ached.  I had clenched my jaw so tightly that I had cracked one of my molars.

Depression and medication is a bit of a challenge.

Medication, at some point, makes you feel like you have got a handle on life and that you might try to nurture a pot plant.  At least for some part of the day.

The problem with this buoyant feeling and the twinkle in your eye, is that it makes you feel like you are “alright” and just might be coping.  So the first thing that you do is toss your meds – ‘cos who needs those when you are feeling so damn good!!

Once you are feeling good, with such a good handle on not having an emotional vomit every time you go out for dinner, well then the nest step is to cancel those Dr Psychologist appointments.

First, they are not free.  Secondly, it is an hour of you sitting on a couch talking about shit that you really would rather not think about,  And thirdly, at some point your medical aid runs out and you are coughing up a few thousand, to chat to someone, about shit you don’t want to think about any more, because you feel so damn even keeled!!

So you cancel the crap out of those weekly appointments.  Because now you have the coping mechanisms that only drugs and therapy can make you think you have.

Flush with the extra hours available in your week, and the chance of maybe a few rand saved, you face your new life with a whole new outlook.

Depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder is no picnic.  I know “depression” is a term that gets bandied around fairly freely – and I am definitely not the one to judge whether someone is having a bad day or is diagnosed with depression.

So here I sit.  Feeling not so bad.

I have cut back on some of my medication. I take a slow release SEROQUEL XR, and an IVEDAL sleeping tablet at night.  I used to take another set of medication during the day, but as time went by I realised I could cope without it, and cut back, as I felt the Seroquel was working well for me on it’s own.

I could probably sleep by myself.   I could probably.  But right now I am reasoning “why take the risk when what I am taking have little to no side effects, and what I am taking works?”

I have cancelled my Dr CBT, and I am feeling all pretty “hey check at me, nearly got this LIFE shit sorted…”

But around the edges, I start to realise that cracks are starting to reveal themselves.  Not big hulking sink-the-titanic cracks, but hair-line fractures.

It’s time I book another “just checking in” session with my psychiatrist and more importantly make an appointment with DR CBT.

And such is the “always there” black dog …… even when you think he has gone away.

On a non-related note, do you know the collective noun for a group of cats, is a pounce of cats?  I love that – my favourite collective noun is a “Murder of Crows” more … I do love collective nouns.  This last paragraph has no relation at all to the last post, but this is sort of how my brain works.

Bad Blogger … go sit in the naughty corner ….

I have been a very bad blogger.  I have not been very good at posting for the last few weeks.

It really is not for a lack of writing.  I realised I have 105 “draft posts” that I have not posted for varying reasons, so clearly I have stuff to say.

I feel a bit like I am losing my voice – my ability to express myself – right now I am feeling very much like this image – but with better cuticle and nail care!

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It is very frustrating as part of how I process “stuff”is by getting it out, and ideally getting it out on this blog.

Right now I am feeling  very “idea and thought” constipated – all these thoughts, ideas, frustrations, moments of joy, moments of anger, and well … frustrations are bottled up and not getting out.

Clearly I need a purge.  Usually I will look for the most inappropriate time or occasion to do this …..

I was busy writing a post about how I have been fortunate enough not to have MY BLACK DOG OF DEPRESSION back in some time.  I was all “hey check me out, no worries…. har har har….”  Yes, well, who is laughing now?  Not me in the event I was being a bit vague.

I have honestly not missed the whooshing sound of his tail, and the pitter patter of his feet at night.  As much as I try to picture him as this loping large black Labrador, I really think he is a m-fuker and can do without him.

I am starting to think that I might have “announced” it a bit prematurely, and maybe the inability to speak, to say what I feel, what I am thinking is probably a sign of a dip in the not too distant future.

It might just be an overdose on all the chaos and madness that is associated with this time of year.

Anyway, look out for some vague really makes-no-sense posts coming up … apologise if it all appears a bit nonsensical.

Depression in children … whose parents have depression ….

Once we have got past the party in a cellophane wrapper that Depression and Anxiety Disorder is, it really is something I would be reluctant to wish on nearly just about everyone.

It’s not like a broken leg where you have a cast and the cool kids sign, and in 6 – 8 weeks you can take it off and that is you good to go.

Unfortunately it is bit like diarrhea.

It strikes you usually in the middle of the night.  You spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom wondering if you will survive this.

When the sun rises you still have shit coming out of every orifice, and it is such an unattractive process you really do not want to post it on your status update.  You do not want everyone to know that you are making skid marks in your panties, and more importantly you have no idea where you got this bug from, and how long it is going to hang around for.  So instead you make jokes about “feeling a bit off colour” …..

So enough about me and the simile that is depression and diarrhea.

I really “fear” for my children.  I worry that they will not inherent my good hair and nail genes, but instead will be the proud new owners of full scale depression and anxiety disorder.

Can I prevent it in some way?  Sadly no.  Can I worry and stress about it?  Worry is my middle name.  Actually it is Lucille, but you know what I mean.

I worry about all of them.  I worry about Connor the most, he is so sensitive and has always been an “old soul” – he got really upset when he found out about what happened to Jesus around Easter time.

Connor was at a Roman Catholic school when he was young.  Great school, they were quite into Hail Marys and Our Fathers though.  I was willing to over look my discrepancies with the trinity because I liked the school.

The first year Connor was there they taught the usual run up to Easter.  I fetch Connor from school and he is sobbing.  Like crocodile tears with snot.

He gets in the car and goes: “Why, why, why did they kill Jesus?!” and bursts in to tears.

That really was one of the first, of several signs that Connor just took too much from a situation.

Connor gets very upset if we are upset.  Not because he is in trouble, but he gets upset if we are upset.

If we are sad, Connor is desperately sad.

It is like his boundaries of what are his feelings versus the feelings that belong to another person are a bit hazy.  Sound familiar?

The reason I am raising this issue today is that Connor has been struggling with stomach cramps for a few days.

Stomach cramps and me, have a very close relationship.  I have so much buscopan, levispas, bevispan, and anything else you can get on a script or if you cry loud enough at an all-night pharmacy – doubling over and crying like a 3 year old, can sometimes prove quite effective.

I started my IBS relationship in about 1994.

It was there before, but 1994 was my first big person job, and with my first big person job came IBS for 3 – 7 days per month.  For years I thought it was menstruation cycle link — fraid not.

Connor’s complaining about cramping makes me worry he has the first signs of IBS.  I worry he has the first signs of IBS.  I worry that IBS is a pre-cursor for signs of depression.

My (other/too many to number) concern is that taking Connor to a psyciatrist/psychologist to have been assessed for depression/anxiety disorder, will add as a catalyst to depression … I know that sounds unreasonable, but there it is.

Chemist homework – done …..

{I just gave myself a gold star, because actually I deserve it}

I really do not want to confess that I have spent at least 3 therapy sessions discussing why I cannot go to the pharmacist to explain that he made an error filling my script and I had experienced a bit of a downhill slide.

{understatement on the bit}

My CBT doctor gave me a home work assignment last time and encouraged me to go to the pharmacist and explain he made an error.

We spoke for ages about why it was so difficult for me {I feel at fault, even though it was not my fault, I still do.}

We spoke about what was the worst that could happen if I spoke to the pharmacist. {I would feel embarrassed that I had done something wrong.  I would feel bad that I was making him feel bad.  I was scared he would make it appear that it was my fault … you know because everything always is}

We spoke about the ability to see a situation for what it is.  Facing your fears and appreciating that your perception of something is not always what actually happens/happened/is going to happen – your video feed of a situation is really laced with your own {warped} self-doubt.

Yesterday I went to the pharmacist because I had Dr CBT today.

The idea was to talk to him, and then say “It’s done, I confronted him, look how I roll – word to my hommies!”  {or something of that ilk}

I bought wet wipes and vitamins the size of suppositories I will never use.  I don’t buy vitamins. I do not buy wet wipes that cost R45.00

I did not speak the pharmacist, because I felt too embarrassed to.  I bought my bizarre assortement of items, and left the store.

I had an appointment with Dr CBT today and we discussed the pharmacist, and several other issues.  I did feel a bit embarrassed/annoyed that we were rehashing the pharmacist thing.

The vision I conjure up, the perception that it is all going to go so very badly.  My coping mechanisms that I employ to deal with situations where I think I am going to be uncomfortable, then the anxiety and stress those coping mechanisms create. {repeat cycle ad nauseam}

The issue is not whether I actually confront the pharmacist, the issue is why I won’t and how it is an illustration of what I do in my day-to-day life.  Over and over again.

I avoid situations – at all costs – as I am scared of feeling bad. I am terrified of embarrassing myself, drawing attention to myself.

I am scared of how the other person will react.  I am anxious to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that I imagine will occur.

The result is often that by the time I arrive at a place/space/situation – I am so stressed and anxious about feeling stressed and anxious and worrying I am going to say or do something that will embarrass or draw attention to me.  It is often a bit crippling.

My “coping mechanism” is to do something, or say something, that I know is inappropriate or not “socially acceptable.”  Then I can say to myself “there, done it, now you are embarrassed, people think you are an arse, now get on with your day already!!”

Works.  Not well.  But works. {basically the theory of “Out yourself before someone else does.”}

I did not say it was a healthy coping mechanism, I just indicated it was one I employed.

Anyone after Dr CBT appointment I was feeling quite wired, and wanted to just get this pharmacist confrontation over and done with.

I went in and waited at the counter.  When the pharmacist approached me, I explained I would like to talk to him for a few minutes.

{sweating bullets, thinking everyone is looking at me, feeling embarrassed and highly anxious – and overcoming an overriding need/urge to run screaming out of the pharmacy}

He said, of course.  Finished what he was doing and he led me into a separate little office.

I explained that I had been given the incorrect script in November and it had been repeated over three months, with the result that November, December and January were a bit more shaky than they needed to be.  He has swapped out the medication I was prescribed for a generic and then got the grammage wrong, so I was on the wrong stuff, and too low a level.

He apologised profusely, and then I had a bit of a cry.  And then he gave me a bit of a hug.  Strange pharmacist giving me a bit of a cuddle in the private pharmacy room – nope nothing strange going on here, move along, move along!

I explained to Pharmacist that I was getting better as the medication had been adjusted.  Mr Therapist writes out script, Pharmacist fills it, I put it in my mouth with a sip of water.  That is pretty much how it goes, I do not check and am {wasn’t – am now} not aware of what I am on or the grammage.

When the script had been filled, I had queried it twice, but I was made to feel {or I made myself feel} that I was being silly and should just take the pills, so I did.

He was so great about it – and said that if I wanted to scream at him, it was fine, I should.

He was really kind, really sorry, really apologetic, and really understood how I felt – probably helped he was holding my latest script, and based on the cocktail of drugs on the list he was quickly able to assess that “stability” was not my middle name. It is Lucille actually.

Nothing in this situation was horrible or bad.  Not ONE of the bad/world is ending outcomes that I had imagined and been ruminating over for the last few weeks had occurred.

I don’t feel all sorts of wonderful, but I feel good {well a bit good} and have a real sense of achievement — I realise it is a bit silly and is difficult to explain to someone else.  Who is sane.

I decided to buy myself a cow-patch straw basket that was for sale at the Chemist, it was my reward for being brave!

The Mindful Way through Depression …..

I am not big on reading self-help books on depression or anxiety.  Partly because I think most of them are shite, and secondly because my filter system between other people’s issues and mine gets a bit hazy, and too much seeps over to my corner of the garden.

If I had to immerse myself in a book about someone and their issues, it would only be a matter of time before I started exhibiting the same issues.

I am funny like that.

That being said, on Saturday I stopped at The Book Lounge in Roeland Street, primarily to get a gift for the lovely Julie Hall, but whilst there I decided to spend my children’s inheritance on books.  For me.

This book titled: “The Mindful Way through Depression – Freeing yourself from Chronic Unhappiness” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel, and Jon Kabat-Zimm jumped off the shelf at me.

I have no idea why, the cover looks like something from a really bad Jodi Picoult novel, and it is titled SELF HELP/PSYCHOLOGY – which would normally have me running for the hills – or at the very least rolling my eyes in sarcasm and prejudgement.

I picked the book up, parked my rather large rump on the leather couch and read a few pages.  I did it with a slightly raised eyebrow as I was expecting the usual “decide to be happy and you will be” bullshit.

I am pessimistic that way, go figure.

The part where I knew I was hooked was the example mentioned on page 20

You are walking down a familiar street … You see someone you know on the other side of the street … You smile and wave.  The person makes no response … just doesn’t seem to notice you … walks right past without any sign of recognizing your existence.

Question:

How does this make you feel?

What thoughts or images go through your head?

The example illustrates the ABC model of emotions.  The A is the facts of the situation.  B is the interpretation we give to the situation, while C is our reaction.

Logically one can work through this exercise and come up with the possibility that the person on the other side of the road was listening to his iphone and you could not see the earphones, and he did not see you.  Or maybe he was really distracted as he was thinking about a fight with his wife earlier in that day, and did not hear me, or notice me.

That is logic.  All of those are possibilities.

Me = immediate hot flush to my face, shoulders and chest and I start to feel this gnawing feeling that the person did not “not see me” he did.  But he ignored me because I had slighted him or I had upset him, or I done something to offend him.  But I had done something to upset/annoy/alienate him, and now he was angry at me.  Why do I do this to people?  What the hell is wrong with me?

{you can see I get totally lost in the interpretation of a situation, and tend to see the bubonic plague and the big bad wolf in everything}

Today is Monday night, and I still feel bad that the guy on the other side of the street did not acknowledge me.

Please let me bring you back to the fact that this did not happen to me, it was merely an example in an introduction of a book.  But since Saturday I have been running through the ways I could have offended this person.  This imaginary person.  On a street I have never walked on.  A greeting I never made, because it is fiction.

Crikey moses!!  Does this give you some idea of how warped General Anxiety Disorder is and how really ‘out to lunch’ my thought process is?

I am going to sit here and sip my wine, and wonder whether my script can be filled yet, and whilst I wait think a bit more about the “guy on the other side of the street and what I have done to hurt his feelings…”

Still gabbing on about the Chemist ….

I tend to have absolute faith in doctors and chemists. (dentists too actually….)

I like to see them as these infallible creatures who are able to dispense information, wisdom and good health.  When I sit in the doctor’s chair, my brain leaves me, my IQ drops and I am a sponge to what ever they say.  I am the patient, they are the miraculous healer!

I hand the responsibility of my  health over to the person sitting on the other side of the desk, with an MD certificate.  Doctors (and chemists) are almost godlike in my eyes – not to be questioned, to be thanked with a small, yet gracious, bow or curtsy.

Yesterday’s realisation that they are actually fallible, and make mistakes, unfortunately does shake the foundations of my belief system a bit.

Granted all I have to show is that I had three months of feeling “not quite right…” but it could have been worse.

I had the benefit of having a few months of intensive “psyche care” last year, so I knew that I had something to fall back on as things start to shake slightly off their center axis over here.

But, for someone else that situation might not have been that supportive.  Their breaking point might have come earlier.

I don’t feel an overriding urge to go to my chemist and stand there and throw my toys.  This does not take away from the fact that I feel angry that I have had to do this slide and this crumble, when in fact I did not have to go through this.  I could have continued on my road to the “unicorns and zen gardens” but instead did a little detour through Hades.

I do feel I want to take my little tupperware dish and go and explain to him the situation, so possibly he uses this as a “ah hah” moment to take more care going forward.

The part that makes it difficult is that I start to think “I am sure this was my error….” or “Chemists are much too important to worry about my trivial little issue…” or “I am sure it is nothing, I will just leave it …..”

I know I should go to the Chemist and show him that he did muck up … but it makes me feel uncomfortable, and I start to feel guilty that somehoe this was my fault <>

For now I will take my “new” stuff and wait for the cracks and tears to heal up ….

Crazy people need the right meds …. really

No secret that I have some challenges and I have a script.  The script is meant to help me help myself, I guess.

I see a psychologist every week.  We do cognitive behavioral therapy and we slowly work through the way I see the world.

It is all very well to have a quirky outlook on the world, but sometimes it helps to have someone assist you in how you process the information you have got coming in.  Sometimes a chicken crossing a road, is not always just a chicken crossing the road.  On the hand the chicken crossing the road is not a plot against you.  It’s just a chicken crossing the road.

December was December.   January seemed to start way too soon.  Was up and running too fast.  I have been feeling edgy, anxious and a bit “funny” and it has started to climb.  I thought it was a December thing, then a January thing, but now I am wondering it if is February thing.

I started wondering if I am heading for another little “break” and I am not quite ready to go down the rabbit hole so soon, after coming back from the last little trip.

I knew I was not feeling great, I just did not know why.  I was taking my meds.  I was doing my therapy.  I was doing the work.

I made an appointment with my Pill Doctor – first appointment I could get was for today (I booked this in January already.)

I keep my medication in a little tupperware dish.  It keeps everything together, makes it easy to slip in to my bag, or to put in my cupboard away from the kids.  Works well.

I take it with to doctor’s appointments, as if anyone asks, I can open it and say, I take two of these, one of these, and one of these.

They always ask, and I never know the names.  Tupperware in bag a better idea that you think.

Today was no exception.  Pill Doctor obviously knows my script, as he wrote it.  But he started asking to find out whether I was experiencing side effects, and just to touch base on what I was on.

So I go: “I am taking one of these in the morning…”

Dr Pill Doctor: “That’s wrong, you should be taking three Zoloft, not one of the Serdep….”

Me: “When I received this from my chemist I thought it was wrong, so I called back and asked him, and he confirmed that he had given me the correct stuff and the correct dose.  I even took the box back to him and asked again.  He again said that it is correct at one a day of Serdep — I said the grammage did not seem right, but he said it was!”

Dr Pill Doctor: “I am sorry it is wrong, the script I gave and that you were on since June is Zoloft and three of them a day…. so you are on 1/3 of what you are normally on, and have been on since June last year ……”

Moer, I am annoyed/angry/pissed off.

Clearly a taking-your-meds-101 error!

I have been “struggling” since December, and kept wondering what the hang is going on here.  I was desperate to get an appointment with Dr Pill Doctor as I thought maybe he could order a set of blood/hormone tests as clearly there was really something wrong.

Before June 2011 I felt like shit, after clinic and meds and August 2011, I was definitely feeling better. Things were stabilising and I felt like i was getting a better grip on what was going on.

November I saw Pill Doctor we agreed to keep script the same, took script to Chemist.  Chemist said that I should swap the Zoloft for the Serdep.  And that is where it went all a bit very wrong.

Chemist put me on to 50mg and I was on 150mg before.  When I queried it he said that it was correct.  But being me, who feels awkward to put my hand up and say “er, that is wrong…” telling my Chemist that I think he made an error, was not exactly easy.  When he told me twice that he had not made an error, even though I still felt that something not quite right, but I decided that I am clearly wrong, so I nodded, went home, and took my pill.

The problem is that I have not been feeling “quite right.”  My anxiety and stress has started to climb, and I have been looking around for what could possibly be the problem.

I have been convinced that “the slide” is starting again.

I find out today that my chemist is actually an idiot and cannot read a script.  My Pill Doctor wrote the new script out and wrote on it in fairly legible copy DO NOT USE SUBSTITUTES!!

I am glad that my medication has been adjusted and hopefully in about 4 – 6 weeks I will start to feel a bit better, and get back on to the right road.

I am so chipped off that I have been feeling this amount of “breaking” for the last 4 – 6 weeks which has been totally unnecessary and could have gone horribly wrong.

I am so angry that when I said that something was not right, my chemist did not take the time to go back and recheck the script and what he had given me.

I am sure I will see the happy side soon.

Sometimes a picture says what you think …..

I really am a fan of blunt cards and the way they say exactly what I am thinking.  In the most politically incorrect manner possible.

Before you start clicking your tongue in judgement and wondering whether you should compose a quick note to me drawing my attention to the joys of motherhood, and what I may missing, please don’t — really please don’t.  Not this week.

I love my kids – I know at times with the amount of emotional vomitting I do, you are starting to wonder at which point do you actually call Child Services.

I have realised I just don’t enjoy being a mother all the time.  The job is hard, it is thankless, it is monotonous, it does not pay particularly well, and it stretches your patience level more than your IQ level.  I know we are all programmed to say how much we doggone love it, and that it is the best job in the world, but seriously I have no idea which spin doctor is selling that sh&t to us, and more importantly why we are eating it up.

I am having some concerns it is possibly men who would rather go to the office than clean shit of tiles, and also previously disgruntled moms who figured if they had a shit time of it, there is no way they are telling in the event you find a way to get out of it and rob them of the happiness of watching you have a nervous break down.

I have no idea how this conspiracy was started.  But I appear to be as much of a “victim” as the rest of you chumps.

I know that I need to just keep my head down until it passes and I am all unicorns and fairy dust, until then, not so much.  But that being said this Blunt Card so perfectly tells you what I want to say – or say as a whisper to myself 1/2 the day at the moment.

It starts again ….

That creeping sensation that things are not quite as they should be.

The whispers of self-doubt.

The gnawing sensation that everyone is plotting against me.

The hiss that people are talking about me.  Incessantly.  Always in the negative.

The worry that I am doing something wrong.  Everything wrong.  About to be “caught out” for doing something wrong I have not even done.  At all.  Ever.

The sounds of whispers and innuendos and recrimination.

Small sounds reverberate in my eardrums as echos.  My children’s chewing that sounds like the brass frkn band going off tune next to me.

The mental arguing and cross-questioning and “should I” or “what if…” and “maybe you need to go and fix that….”

Unfortunately it has all started again.  It was so lovely when it was gone.  It was so lovely.

It started as a quiet whisper in the darkness, but now it is turning into screaming in the day.    It might just be because I am feeling exhausted.  Tired to the bone.

Not ideal considering “yearly holidays” has just finished and I am in negative leave.  I could climb in to bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep for a week.

On the upside it is not depression.  Yip, fkn hooray for that.  Talk about seeing the silver lining.

But it is the mania – the creeping sensation of the full-blown anxiety as it’s bleeding fingers start to linger around the edges – the exaggerated sense of anxiety – every nerve ending hot like a poker – at the same time my brain starts to shut down because it can’t deal with multiple stimuli.

Yesterday.  True Story.  I forgot how to fill the kettle with water.  I was trying to make tea and coffee, and I knew I should fill the kettle, but I looked at the kettle and thought “fk how do I get water in there….” and the I opted to boil the kettle and hope there was enough to fill two cups.

By the time the water was boiled and I poured the water in to two cups, my brain went: “Hey the kettle comes of the thingy-me-bob, you just pick the kettle up and direct it at the tap thing …. and tah-dah….water in the kettle”  But I could not work that out earlier.

When you cannot mentally work out how to fill the kettle with water, it is time to call in medical supervision or at the very least a priest and an intervention or exorcism going.

Fk!

Having my black dog at heel instead of pulling me along ….

Depression is somethings difficult to explain without it sounding …. a bit er ………. depressing.

It really is not the thing you can put a fun spin on,.  I try to make light of it, but people inevitably look at you more strangely than they did before.

At that point I down the glass of wine I am drinking (real or imaginary), and then you change the conversation as you offer to fill their glasses with more wine (real or imaginary).

Claire sent this link to me, and it is really exactly how depression is.

Depression and it’s little friend Generalised Anxiety Disorder <I have a social and sensory-sensitivity thrown in> is a total jedi-mind-fk.  It does not come with a cool light sabre and that heavy breathing guy in a slightly too big head mask.

Everyone tells you to “just be happy” or “snap out of it” or “you will get over it.”  All I want to do is get the shovel out of the garage, and hit the person in the head.  Then go and lie back on my bed, and stare into the vacant distanc, or close my eyes and wish for sleep to come.

Even when everyone is dancing around and so frkn happy, I sit there and smile and really I want to curl up in a ball somewhere, or at the least hold my breath until I pass out.

Social situations push me further than I want to go.  But I seldom opt out of social things, as the remedy is not to sit in a room, and rock yourself to sleep, but the solution is to put my self into social situations and remind myself that “I can do this, I can do this ….”

I think most people who suffer from depression can win an Oscar for faking-happy.  I tend to have to fake interest/happiness/contentment/mild interest when in reality I just want to somewhere and die.

To add to it, no one says {okay you are depressed, it’s okay that you do not feel the same as other people} so as a child/young teenager/young adult you decide that if everyone is smiling, what you need to do to fit in is to smile …. like a bit of a douche bag, as you really are just mimicking behaviour.

Seems the correct thing to do, right?

I have suffered/struggled/ignored depression for several years.

It just is.  I can’t blame things. I am just made this way. I think there were contributing factors, but to be honest no matter how things had occurred, I probably would have ended up in the same place.

<for me making this observation is a huge step, I have lamented various issues around my up-bringing for several years as a way to pin the tail on to the donkey going ‘that’s what caused this’…. but the reality is that I was made this way, there were some environmental issues that probably did not help, but odds are I would have ended up the same place no matter the journey>

My happiest moments are often tainted because I am smiling, but in reality I am not happy at all.  I knew I should be.  The problem was that “should” never equalled actually “feeling happy.”  I do try though.  Gawd only knows I try.  But it never seems quite enough.  <Excuse me while I leave the room to self-flagelate.>

The last few years have had some okay years and some shocker years.  2011 has been a corker, and really no one deserves a shag-and-a-medal more than Kennith for his trouble this year.  He has so stood there and taken it like standing up like no one’s business.

I am not writing this post, because I can click my heels together and screamed, I am cured.  But right now, with my respite from the {hole that is depression} it is wonderful to see things in life’s full Technicolor … even if it is just for a little bit.

<…in the last two days, I have started to get this gnawing sensation, that things are starting to creep back … that the edges of my pages are starting to crumble … just that little bit …. it really terrifies me…>

Illustrations are from “I had a Black Dog” from the uber fabulous Matthew Johnstone – you can purchase his books through Kalahari (delivery free until the 30 November 2011).

Mommy you are really looking happy ….

Yesterday when I fetched Connor from school, he said: “Mommy you are really looking happy.”

Me: “Thanks for noticing my boy, I am feeling happy … but why do you say it?”

Connor: “You just look happy.  I don’t know why.  Are you happy about something?”

Me: “No my boy, I am feeling happy that is all, nothing really, just feeling happy.”

And that really is it. <<I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that he noticed…>>

I am not better, but I am on the mend.

My head is less filled with the negative/kill myself/kill all of you/oh my gawd I am being targeted thinking.

My head is actually quiet.  I do realise it sounds a bit “insane” to say “the voices in my head are quiet.” But they are. This constant internalised conversations that go on and on … all day … all night are quiet.

I can just sit.  And sit.  In silence.  Because there is no noise in my head.

I feel remarkably happy. Not “skip and sing the sound of music” happy, but definitely lighter, more free, and my head is just not as busy as it was before.

I sit and I smile. Just because I do.

I feel a definite sense of creativity.

There are little projects that I have started, and feel motivated to do. I sit in my garden on the old wooden chair, I dusted off and positioned amongst the lavender.  I listen to the bees buzzing, I sip my wine, I feel the coolness of the glass in my hand, and I just feel a sense of calm. Of peace.  Of silence.  Of not internally screaming.

I am not sure whether it is working with Dr CBT, the medication, Dr Pill-Pusher, the fact that I am sleeping, or the time that I hid away from life in the clinic.

I have no idea what to attribute it to.

I feel a sense of happiness.  A genuine happiness that I have not felt in what feels like forever.  I smile when I see my children and I see Kennith, just because they make my glad inside.

It’s a nice feeling.

It is also a  strange feeling I don’t know what to do with it.  I just sit with it right now.  And smile a bit.

<stay away black dog, for fuck sake say away, you are not wanted here!!!>

Sun on my face, wine in my glass …..

In my little journey of ying meets yang, and get a clue, I had a moment yesterday.

The kids were eating dinner, I poured myself a glass of wine, and went to sit in my back yard.

I need to explain that my backyard, is about the size of a large postage stamp. It has been the bane of my life since we moved in to our house.

I hate gardening and I hate attempting to be good at it.  The backyard quickly turned into a wind-blown, sandy and really annoying area.  Just ugly.

I am fine to shut the backdoor and not give it a second thought, but our house/property is built on levels, with the result that the kitchen looks directly into the backyard – it’s almost on eye level.  So I was assaulted by ugly all the time.

Nearly every day – either whilst putting the kettle on or off, I would grit my teeth and it irritated the crap out of me, to stare into this sand trap and then I would get angry.

Then Alice introduced to me to Roderick.  And my life changed.

Roderick is fabulous.  Roderick appears to know loads about gardens and plants.

His most significant skill is his ability to remain amiable when a husband and wife are giving him totally contradicting instructions.  He handles this with such grace, he makes me snort.

Anyway.  I blew my children’s education on lavender, jasmine, thyme, rosemary and petunias and Roderick has kindly planted them for me.

He helped plant some tomatoe plants (which I am not convinced are weeds that we have lovingly tied to thin sticks, as these plants do not smell anything like tomatoe plants, and more importantly have not sprouted one frkn tomato yet!) and he comes and lovingly assists the garden to see that it is quietly ticking over.

He reminds me when to get compost, or worm poison, or which plants I need to replant.

He makes cuttings of existing plants and plants areas I had not even known exist.  He created a fabulous garden in an area I thought was “dead area” that now has rosemary, petunias and some other stuff that smells great, but I have no idea what it is.

He has stopped rolling his eyes every time I explain I have bought more plants, and then he arrives and the plants are all “lavender.”

He appears to understand my little lavender fetish.  Or doesn’t and prefers not to judge me any more.

My back garden has become my  secret garden.  Though it is hardly a secret.  But it has rapidly become my happy place.

My makes- me-mile place.  I love sitting there.

Yesterday I sat on the step, and surveyed my stamp sized garden, wine glass in hand.

I smelt the smell of lavender, and the sweet smell of jasmine.  I sat there with the late afternoon sun on my face.

I heard the birds singing.  I was just still.  I was there.

Here is the part that was incredible.  The noise/internal conversation/the constant heckling inside my head was quiet.  It had been for a few days, I just had not noticed until that moment.

I could hear the birds, and I was not scheming/self-flagellation/future worst case scenario dissecting/constant dialogue about what I had said/done/felt/thought …… all of it was quiet.

I can’t explain it really well, without making me sound a bit like Jack from the Shining.  The value of just having quiet in my head and my thoughts, which are not negative or self-hatred.

It was a lovely moment …..and I really love my little garden.

<Today I bought a Gardening Magazine.  I think the world might come to an end.  The odds of me reading a gardening magazine is shocking enough, the fact that I chose it over Marie Claire might be comment enough on my mental instability!!!>

Somedays I wish I could sort out all the sh*t on my 12 things list ……

I struggle with life a bit. Who am I kidding? I struggle with life a lot.

And this year has been a bit epic for me.  So many things did not go as planned, so many things got totally out of control.   Mainly in my head.  Then in my life.

I seem to have got a handle on my obsessive compulsive stroke panic and anxiety stuff  – which had totally overtaken my life this year.

Can you say freak out?

I can’t say whether it was an “attack” or a series of “attacks” or an “episode.”  It has been pretty hellish.  Like a roller coaster, but without the aid of tracks and a seat belt.

Either way it left me shattered and clinging on to reality though clenched teeth, and bleeding finger nails.

Now?  I am not best, but I am better than I was.  My grasp is tentative at best, but I really do feel as if I am at least aiming in the right direction.

I am seeing a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy.  I also see a psychiatrist who keeps me medicated up to my gills.  I believe this will reduce as my coping mechanism kicks in.

CBT is really hard work.

It is much easier to lie on the couch and blame my mother and life, but CBT really holds a mirror/magnifying glass up to your stuff and makes you questions every aspect.

It doesn’t deal with the “past” it deals with “today” and what you are doing “today” and how you can alter your thought processes about “today.”

It is not a quick fix.  It is not as simplem as I am suggesting here.  Dr CBT is pretty good, and I try to see him every week.

The longer the gaps between my visits, the further I notice I drift off into the abyss.  Yes, a somewhat co-dependant relationship if there ever was one.

It is a bit alarming as you drill down to the root cause of stuff, and sometimes you realise, that actually you are a bit sad and stupid, when you sort of thought you were a bit awesome.

There are many things I need to let go or change – and these are some of them:

1.  Internet and Social Media Dependence.  I have spent much too much time trying to find validation in cyberspace, when in reality, I need to find it with me first before I can even think of standing in cyberspace.  I have been the instigator, and in some cases the victim of so much crap.  It makes me all shaky and sweaty just thinking about it.  Having bad judgement and trying to operate in cyber space has not been a great combination. <palm slap with hand>.  Right now I am pretty much off most/all social media, and lurk around only really on my blog.

2. It is not always my responsibility.  I can live life without it being “if I do not do it, no one will” mentality or “it happened because I did or did not do something”.  So what if no one does it?  So what if you stand back and let it happen? So what?  Leave it.  It is not always your problem to fix it.  You cannot fix the world. Right now you are stuggling to button your shirt, leave the world’s probelms to someone else.

3. I am not as important as I think I am.  When I walk in to a room, people do not actually stop what they are doing and look at me and make a judgement.  Really I am not that important to them.  No one gives a shit.  Even those who do make a judgement – really does it matter, and really in a group how many people are there that truly judge you negatively?  And how many people think about the stuff I do or say as much as I think they do.  Trust me, hardly anyone.  No one gives a fig.  Except you.

4. Name the emotion and deal with it individually.  I paint my fears with a big brush.  I paint all my crap with a big brush.  Much easier to have a blanket description and then sit and tremble in the corner.  I can’t do that because it makes me feel anxious.  I don’t want do that because I am afraid.  Does it really make you feel anxious only, or are there other emotions there? Well, actually yes, I am nervous, I am a bit anxious, I am scared and I am afraid. Okay, so that is four different emotions, let’s work through each of those instead of thinking that it is all anxiety.  Makes it easier if you break something down to work through it.  See what each emotion is about, and deal with it.  A bit like eating an elephant ……

5.  Stop putting pressure on yourself to always feel a certain way.  I feel I am meant to always enjoy being with my children.  So when I am with them, and I am not enjoying it, then I feel guilty and I start a bit of self-flagellation because I should love it.  And that is pretty much the cycle for a lot of things. I need to stop telling myself I “should feel anything” and just feel it as it is, and accept it.  Not just about my kids, about so many aspects of my life.  Stop dictating to yourself you are meant to be or feel a certain way.  Who decides this?  Why are you dictating to yourself.  Stop!

6.  You cannot change anyone, so deal with it.  It drive me crazy when so-and-so does such-and-such. It drives me totally off my rocker.  Ask yourself, can you change them?  Generally the answer is no.  If they do it all the time, then accept that it is the way they do things.  Having a shit fit every time, is only making you more insane.  Does it really matter that so-and-so does such-and-such?  Really?  Like in the bigger scheme of things?  Probably not so much.  Well, then do not get so worked up by it, as you cannot change it and you have no influence.

7.  If you don’t like something or don’t want to do something, why do you force yourself to do it?  Well that one is sort of self-explanatory.

8.  What is the worst that can happen? Really if you say something and someone feels bad, can you control how they feel or what they think?  No, so why constantly bereit yourself.  So what if it happens that way, so what?  Is it really that bad? No.  Do you consciously set out to hurt people?  No.  Can you control what people feel or think?  No.  Then stop sitting there taking responsibility for it.

9.  Spend more time in the present and less time in the “what if it does happen” future and “oh god it happened like this last time, I am sure it will happen like this now” past.  Just BE. Just BE.  You are missing out on so much running around in your head.  Sit in the sun, sip your wine, smell the lavendar.  That is all.  Feel the sun on your face.

10.  Stop having this insane dialogue with yourself over every possible issue.  It’s done.  It’s over.  You do not have to relive the conversation over and over again and persecute yourself.  You can’t go back.  You can’t do it differently.

11.  Why judge yourself in the worse possible light?  You cannot actually be as sh*t as you think you are.  Really, you can’t.  More people like you and more people understand you than you think.  Stop being so harsh on yourself.

12.  Just let life live.  Don’t plan so much.  Don’t run it over and over in your head so much.  Stop with the fkn lists.  Don’t try to predict so much.  Don’t try to work in every possible eventuality.  It’s life, it happens, and then you adjust.  It just is.

13.  Drink less wi…….. actually no, stop at 12. 13 is such an unlucky number.

So how are you? And other polite conversations …..

As is customary, most people start a conversation with how are you.

The problem is I battle to reply in the customary: “I am fine, how are you?”

I am not “fine” so tend to say: “I am okay, not great, but okay.  Better than I was a month or two ago….. but okay.”

And then the person looks awkward, and I shuffle my feet.  And then I drawl “Any the wayyyyy ….. ” to sort of act as an ice-breaker.

Never works.  But I repeat this action none the less.

I am still seeing my psychologist guy.  I am not making a great deal of progress. I start these things with such gusto, and then I realise that they are so much work, and then my shine reduces slightly.  And I slump on the couch a bit more.

At the moment I feel part of things, but not.  I do not seem to have the resources to take part whole heartedly in anything.  At the moment breathing; going to work, attempting to appear vaguely “normal” takes all my energy.

So I feel pretty much like the “third person” to my life at the moment.

Not ideal.  No, sadly not.

My medication is probably not “quite right” but I am also reluctant to mess around with them right now.  There is just too much going on, and I do not want to atttempt and adjustment right now.

My physical symtoms include:  a little shake (of my hands) that gets worse as the day progresses; I yawn so much that my jaw gets sore; I am not “lie on the bed and sleep” tired, but I just cannot stop yawning and feeling fatigued; I feel like I am over there, but the other me is over here, so it is a bit disorientating.

I take some stuff to make me go to sleep at night.  I take some stuff to keep me asleep at night.  Works well.

The problem is if our house got hit with a tornado, I would go quietly in my sleep.

Kennith has been less happy with the fact that if the kids wake up, I am so dead to the world, that he always has to deal with it.  I think he is also concerned that in the event of a fire, he will be carrying three children, and a semi-conscious wife out the door.

My appetite has gone for a bit of a ball. I am seriously just not that interested in food.

I do love food though.  I am even partial to a bit of McDonalds which is actually the perfect meal.  By the time my brain has clicked that I am eating, the meal is finished.

So pretty much it is over before my brain can tell me that it is does not want food.  Works well. Or doesn’t.

Any the wayyyyy (see how that works) …….. so it is not all great, but it is okay.  Kennith is presently winning awards for “the most patient and enduring spouse.”

The mania of extreme panic and anxiety has passed — to a large degree (and I use the term mania very loosely as I am not manic).

I am still a bit wired, so I find when I do something that requires concentration for any length of time, I walk away feeling very frazzled and more shaky.

The small things are not as overwhelming as they were.

I spend less time doubting myself, and in obsessive destructive behaviour or thought processes.

I spend a bunch less time on the internet.

I am still avoiding a lot of the forums and blogs I used to troll.  I don’t have the energy to take on other people’s issues, and also the “urge” to interact much.  So I have missed where everyone is and what everyone is doing.

I sleep at night.

Earlier this morning my friend Judith asked me: “Are you back in the saddle?”

I replied: “Well I am in the saddle, but the horse appears to have fled …. So I am sort of kicking my heels in the dust going giddy-up ….. fake it til you make it they say!”

And that is pretty much how it is with me.

So how are you?