Category Archives: Depression

Getting older: Partly shite and partly not too shabby

I’m getting older as various younger friends like to gleefully point out to me on a constant basis, predominantly because they’re bastards. There are a great many downsides to this process but a few upsides too from a personal standpoint. Before that I want to give you an idea of what I was like when I was younger just so it makes the rest make a degree of sense.

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Late teens, early twenties me was a bit of a prick all told, I was an arrogant, know it all arsehole with a massive chip on his shoulder and a general disregard for other people. I was also ridiculously skinny to the point where I looked ill, it didn’t matter what I’d eat either, I just wouldn’t put weight on. There’s also the small matter of having depression and not really knowing what was going on with me and largely ignoring it because I just assumed it’d go away on it’s own.

Here we are a decade and a half or so later and quite a lot has changed both physically and mentally. Let’s start with the old metabolism, which is well and truly gone. I’m now considerably heavier than I was and while I don’t look ill any more I’m definitely overweight and really need to start doing something proactive about it in terms of doing more exercise. I appreciate that I was always likely to put on weight at some point, I think I just wasn’t expected quite so much. And it’s clearly only raging alone and nothing to do with my love burgers!

I have the usual things like the receding hairline which has been going on since I was 17 in all honesty, admittedly it’s getting thinner at the front now which kinda sucks though push comes to shove I’ll just shave it off if it gets to bad, fuck this clinging on to it malarkey, ain’t nobody got time for that. I have barely any grey hair though so every cloud and all that. I still can’t grow facial hair worth a damn though which is annoying as all hell.

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Eyesight wise things have held together remarkably well for the most part, I have a slight precription which I have glasses for but don’t really need to wear. I tend to really only wear them when my eyes feel tired or I have a headache. Irritatingly though I’m now deemed a glaucoma risk due to my eye pressure and a history of it in the family which means yearly appointments at the hospital to check my eyes aren’t fucked basically. So far so good, though I hate going as some of the checks are bloody unpleasant though I suppose it’s better safe than sorry.

Next lets talk aches and pains because I have a shit load. The back is a particular delight which I suspect is partially due to my job and partially due to years to slouching and hunching. My groin aches regularly from a hernia I didn’t get seen to for far too long and my knees are essentially fucked. Numerous football injuries and an injury I had when I was a kid mean that they ache quite a bit a fair amount of the time and in winter when it’s cold it can be especially bad, I’ve had instances (thankfully rare) where I’ve not been able to sleep due to the pain in my knees. I figure I’m going to need shiny new ones at some point hopefully far in the future.

There’s in an upside to the increased weight, my alcohol tolerance has become much better than it was when I was skinny. A couple of pints back then and I would have been shitfaced whereas now I can put away quite a bit more before the inevitable, I also very rarely chunder due to booze nowadays which can’t be appreciated enough. On the flipside hangovers are absolute bastards, they last 2 days if I’m lucky and if I head out for a proper night out then I’ll essentially feel bollocks for the best part of the week.

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With the physical out of the lets talk about the mental. My depression seems to be a reasonable starting point given I’ve discussed it before. Obviously I have a much better understanding of what it is, how it impacts me and what I can do to help myself a bit when it sets in. I also now that anti depressants don’t work for me but counselling does which has been helpful in the past. I’ve accepted that it’ll likely always be something I struggle with but I also know that I determined not to ever let it get the better of me.

I’ve never had anything approaching a healthy relationship and I think I’ve finally learned to spot a situation which will end badly for me which is handy. I’ve also learned that you can’t make another person responsible for your happiness, it’s not fair on them and it stops you taking responsibility for your own happiness. This is has been an important lesson, learning it has made me think that I’m better prepared to avoid a toxic relationship in future and also makes me believe that I’d have something decent to offer in a relationship, though I also concede that this currently imaginary person would require the patience of a damn saint. Confidence wise not a lot has changed over the years, I’m still painfully shy around people I like and I have more than a fair amount of self doubt when it comes to taking risks with people I’m interested in, and I’m still utterly clueless as to whether someone likes me which in terms of combinations is as fucking useless as you’d expect.

I still the same smart arse bastard I always was, the difference is that now I’m well aware that I don’t know everything and have a lot to learn. This is actually something I’ve come to enjoy over the years, learning new things and new challenges helps keep my brain active in a positive way which is needed. I’ve also always been a fan of having weird and trivial knowledge about weird things, there’s nothing quite like relaying some freaky or disgusting fact to a friend and watching their look of horrified fascination.

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I’m a lot more self aware now, I know the kind of person I want to be and I try and make an effort to make sure I work on that as much as I can. I’d like to think my friends know how much they mean to me, I certainly try to make sure that they feel valued. I’ve also decided that changing aspects of what make me who I am because I feel that’s what growing up means is fucking stupid, unsurprisingly it turns out that I’m far happier just being who I am, shocking to think how long it took me to that particular realisation.

In my efforts to be the best version of me I’m capable of being I’ve learned a few things that have been useful. Things like patience and control of my temper, I used to have an awful temper and getting to the point where I’m calmer has been incredibly useful but has also been incredibly challenging. This has been worked on mainly because I didn’t think it was healthy to be so angry all the time and also because I was capable of being a properly spiteful prick at times. Ultimately it’s definitely a change that’s made me feel a lot happier in myself and I tend to offend people marginally less as a result.

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I have an appreciation for other people’s ideas and opinions where this wasn’t always the case. The issue with arrogance is that you tend to think your opinion is the only one that matters which is obviously fucking ridiculous. One of my favourite things about making the effort here is that it’s opened the door to discussing opinions with people and debating with them in a respectful and often incredibly interesting way. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has altered or enhanced my way of thinking about some things. Life is a lot more interesting if you’re able to swallow your pride a little.

As a kid there was only one thing that really scared me, thoughts around death. I’ve always been terrified of dying and of the people I love dying too, it’s a little silly in a way as it’s a natural part of life but the idea that you essentially cease to be at some point down the road is something that scares the shit out of me. And the issue with getting older is that you begin to realise that the constants in your life like parents and grandparents aren’t going to be around for ever. The bittersweet part is that this realisation can make you treasure the time you spend with these people that much more. I know that when people go it’s heartbreaking but from a personal standpoint I know that I’ll have lots of really great memories to look back on.

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Getting older can add a few more fears into the mix, not always rational and definitely not helpful and I’ve got a few, I worry that I’m going to go through life never knowing what I actually want to do with it, I’ve fallen into a career of sorts in something I”m reasonably good at and that potentially gives me chances to progress in different directions but it’s also a job I don’t think I’m well suited to personality wise. I’ve kinda lucked into a current role that seems to embrace the person I am but that hasn’t always been the case so there’s always a nagging doubt in my head-on that front.

I also worry that I’m going to end up alone, which in a way is fucking ridiculous given the fact that I have a number of good friends and that I’m pretty close with my siblings, all of whom seem to enjoy my company and make the effort to spend time with me which is obviously nice. The worry is that I’ll never meet someone and actually have something approaching a healthy relationship, which is obviously compounded by my own fears of being rejected getting in the way of me actually attempting to instigate something with someone I like which is definitely something I need to work on, That being said better to be alone and happy with myself that in a shitty, toxic relationship that gradually changes me as a person in a negative way.

There’s obviously instances where I look back and wonder if I should have made different choices in my. Things like whether I should have stayed at college or made different job decisions, crap like that. There’s an element of wondering how things would have turned out in those circumstances but I never really dwell on it too much as it’s largely pointless and because it’s due to the choices I’ve made that I’ve got the friends I’ve got and I would change that for anything really.

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That being said I’d probably give the younger me some advice given the opportunity. I’d like let him know the importance of his friends just so that he’d not wait quite so long to make that connection, I’d also have a serious talk about depression so that this could have been identified a lot sooner and a decent amount of bullshit could have been avoided. I’d also advise lottery numbers as standard just so as to be rich enough to do things like travelling and all that kind of stuff, but who wouldn’t do that given the chance.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the person I’ve turned out to be for the most part, even if I’m essentially falling apart. I think too much a lot of the time but it’s also made me a pretty decent person who is incredibly loyal to the people I care about which seems to be appreciated. Obviously there is always work to be done but it’s something I’m quietly confident about being able to achieve, it seems like a degree of wisdom has come with age so there’s a pretty decent chance that this continues to be the case as I get older.

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The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

It’s been an odd few months since March. I finally got myself a new job, which has been pretty awesome as it’s been the job i’ve essentially been waiting on for the past couple of years. It’s working with a really good team who I get on well with and generally have a laugh with and based on feedback I’m doing reasonably decently which is always nice. 

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I’ve also been doing more writing for my friends gaming website which has been a nice outlet and it’s been fun writing about things that interest me. I’d definitely say being interested in what you’re writing about. I’ve been slacking on the personal blog front though which has been a little bit shit, and kind of follows on from writing about what you’re interested in and I’m not always that interested in myself.

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Which leads me neatly on to the purpose of this blog, for all the progress I’ve made on some levels of my life other aspects continue to elude me. This is either due to my own idiot brain or due to my seeming inability to pay attention when my body is telling me things. I’m the dickhead that once worked through a chest infection saying was a cold in spite of my manager at the time nagging me to go to the doctor.

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Last year I burnt myself out with work, there was a huge project that loads of people were working on and I was given the opportunity to contribute. I did a shitload of overtime and didn’t take much time off, to the point where come November I had about 4 weeks of holiday still to book which given I had about 5 and a half in April gives you some idea of how little time off I’d had.

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I swore to myself that I’d take better care of myself this year in terms of not focussing as heavily on work and taking more time for myself, and to try and be a little healthier. This has sort of come to pass though also not really as demonstrated by the fact that I’ve been feeling run down in the last few weeks to the point where I’ve decided to take a week off work to just chill and veg out.

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I always know when I’m getting rundown as I start to get shitloads of ulcers in my mouth and occasionally my throat (which is pretty bloody unpleasant) which has definitely happened. This time has been slightly different though as I’ve also gotten incredibly spotty. I get spots from time to time but not with this regularity or concentration, which has been fun as I’ve been feeling a little low about my appearance anyway.

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The self consciousness was essentially brought about by an absolute awful photo a friend took of me after we’d crashed at a mutual friends house. Frankly it may be the worse picture of me I’ve ever seen, I look really fat and bloated in it which understandably hasn’t exactly been great for my self confidence, I’m hopeful of using it as the kick up the arse I need to actually start doing some regular exercise though.

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This is where the issues of the exhausting and self consciousness have hit though, I’ve been snappier with friends than I normally am, and because I don’t feel great about myself I’ve also avoided social interaction with certain friends as I’m at a point where I say something as a joke and it sounds like I mean it in the most offensive terms possible. It’s almost like I turn into the biggest prick in the world even though what I’m saying isn’t any different to usual, it’s just the tone makes everything sound far harsher than it’s meant.

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The other thing that’s been odd is that I’ve been over sensitive, which is fucking weird as I’m usually incredibly difficult to offend. I work on the policy of I can’t mock other people unless I can take being mocked and it’s a sound policy. But The last couple of weeks I’ve taken umbrage at things people have said to me when normally I wouldn’t even give these things a second thought.

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All in all I needed a break so I booked a week off work to chill out a little. The basic plan for this week is to build the Lego Voltron I now own, play some computer games and do some reading. I’m also aiming to get some more of my latest tattoo done as that’s coming along pretty nicely an hopefully should only need a couple more sessions doing to be completely finished.

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The good thing about the initial couple of days of the break so far has been that I’ve made a point of having an extra hour or so in bed of sleep and it’s helped make me feel a lot more normal than I’ve been feeling of late which has been pleasant. This also shows that a little bit of effort in looking after myself occasionally is probably a worth while endeavour.

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I also have holidays booked for September and December which gives me something to look forward to. September is a trip to Lisbon which will be cool as I’ve never been and I’m attending the wedding of a real good friend and then December is a long weekend in Tenerife with my best friends for an all inclusive trip which will no doubt be a  shit load of doing nothing and a few cheeky drinks.

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I guess on the plus side at least I’m actually taking the time so there’s that at least, I think I also need to make some other changes at some point so that I’m not sitting around with my own thoughts a lot of the time as no good really comes from that. At least there are signs that I’m learning lessons even if it takes a shit load of time. I guess it’s just a question of making sure I don’t regress into bad habits of running myself into the ground.

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My brain on depression – insight into my dickhead brain

I’ve touched on my depression before and gone into how it hits me but as I’m experiencing a bout of it at the moment I thought I’d go into a bit more detail of what’s going on in my head currently. It’s been novel this time as I’ve had the usual stuff going on in my brain with the added “bonus” of some new shite to deal with. I’m not sure why it’s come on now but suspect it’s possibly due to an insanely busy last few months and actually being able to slow down a little recently and take stock of things to a certain extent.

Lack of enthusiasm: Depression tends to rob me of any excitement to do anything or see anyone. There’s an element of this which is needed as a little solitude is good but there is an element of fighting the urge that is needed as I find it super easy to cut myself off from people which is less than ideal. I also have an incredibly short attention span and struggle to focus on things as a result. I therefore try to make sure I see people where I’m able and to just make myself do thing that I can break down to small chunks such as watching cartoons.

Excessive tiredness: Whenever I’m struggling I get more tired than I normally am, I have no get up and go and just generally want to curl up into a ball and do nothing but watch stuff on TV. There is an upside to this in that I tend to sleep better than I normally would. The downside is I just want to sleep during the day and I can’t do that as it completely fucks up my sleep pattern and means I won’t sleep at night so essentially have to ignore that urge.

Lack of appetite: This doesn’t tend to be regular, sometimes it’ll happen and sometimes it won’t. As an example today I’ve had a bowl of noodles and even that was a struggle and not really hungry currently, though I will make sure to eat something else. It’s a combination of not being hungry and just not being arsed about being anything which I recognise as not being healthy which is why I try to make sure I’m eating and drinking semi normally.

Anxiety and self doubt: This is an absolute delight as you’d expect. While I would never say I’m happy with myself I am satisfied for the most part with the person I try t be. This all goes out the window when depression rears it’s head. i tend to think i’m a terrible person and that I’m a shit friend which sucks severely. I also tend to feel hugely lonely and second guess the lack of a relationship, even though from a purely logical standpoint I know that I’m better off on my own than in a toxic relationship.

Increased anger and frustration: This is a knock on effect from the inability to focus on things, I tend to get angry and frustrated at myself. What I have gotten better at is keeping that internalised as much as possible so that I don’t take it out on other people as I’m hyper aware that I’ve been a shitbag to people in the past with no reason for it, and frankly I could do without adding guilt to everything else.

Thoughts of self harm: This is a little dark though thankfully nowhere near as badas it has been in the past or could be realistically. I’ll frequently have thoughts about cutting myself when I’m depressed, I’ve done this many years ago but thankfully it’s never gotten to that point again. There’s also always the thought of how easy it would be to kill myself, now to be clear there’s never been any desire on my part to go down that route and if there ever was I’d know that I’d need to see someone straight away. It’s more a weird part of my brain that just points out things like running my car into a tree or something, and as I’ve said in the past my brain is a twat.

Resentment of people I care about: Now this is new but with this onset I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling resentful of certain people. These are people who I care deeply for and who have done absolutely nothing wrong therefore I at least recognise that it’s in my mind rather than dwelling on it and potentially sabotaging relationships with people who I definitely don’t want lose from my life. It’s just a very odd feeling to have this gut reaction I have the essentially then talk myself down from.

So overall my experience of depression is wank but realistically it could be a hell of a lot worse, as for the most part I know what’s going on and that it should fuck off after a period of time and I can get back to what passes for normal for me. i know that when it’s going on that watching certain films, playing certain games and reading certain things helps.Also that the company of my close friends is helpful as I’m very lucky to have some incredibly close friends who care about me and look out for me where they can, even if things aren’t going great and I’m a prick to deal with. I also know to monitor myself and how I’m feeling, if things don’t improve after a period of time or get worse then I know that that’s the time to reach out and see someone. The fact that I know myself well enough for that is reassuring as hell.

My Experience of Depression

Usually when I write it’s somewhat sarcastic and flippant in tone as this is something that represents the way I am and that I generally don’t take rings too seriously. This piece will hopefully be more serious in tone as it’s a difficult topic not to take seriously and something I’ve been trying to write about for a few days now but have struggled to put into words, with that in mind please forgive me if I come across as slightly unfocussed. i would also add a further disclaimer that what I’m writing about is strictly based on my own experiences so I will try to avoid generalisations.

Last week had some sad news with the death of Robin Williams in what appears to be a suicide relating to depression, obviously I don’t know the facts so I can only base that comment on what has been reported. This hit me harder than expected and I put this down down to two reasons, the first being that I was a fan of his work, be it Aladdin, Hook, Mrs Doubtfire or the myriad of other work he had done including films, television shows and stand up comedy, the second is that as someone that has suffered from depression, and continues to do so, the idea that everything becomes so overwhelming that ending your own life seems like the only option available is something that worries me immensely.

My depression is something that seems to come and go these days, I will have periods where I feel incredibly lonely, isolated and lacking in any kind of self confidence which previously has involved me pulling away from people who genuinely care about me without offering anything by way of explanation and doing my best to sabotage my relationships with friends and avoiding doing things that I genuinely enjoy doing. There is no triggering cause at all for this really, I have a job where I am earning decent money, I have amazing friends and family and I have the freedom to be able to do things that I enjoy and yet still I go through the dark periods, almost as if my brain tells me that I don’t deserve to be happy.

Early on I didn’t know how to deal with it and I was constantly moody and was quite spiteful to people at times, I didn’t sleep well (worse than I do anyway) and was genuinely unpleasant to be around when I wasn’t sulking somewhere. I like to think I got pretty good at fooling people that I was fine, but I suspect the truth of it was more likely that people just got tired of asking whether I was alright and being met with the stock answer of “I’m fine” despite this being clear to anyone who knew me that this wasn’t the case and at one point there was a period where I cut myself. When asked much later on why I had felt the need to do this, the person just wanted to try and understand rather than anything else, my response was that I felt so much pain mentally and emotionally which I didn’t know how to process that I thought that by doing something physically might help, maybe when the physical pain had healed it would take away some of the other pain.

This ignoring of the obvious in the hope that it would just go away continued for a considerable length of time, there were good days and bad but it basically came to a head when I lashed out at a group of people I cared about for no real reason and started to lose touch because pride wouldn’t let me apologise. It was all essentially just eating away at me and I was just withdrawing from the world. It got to a point where I realised I didn’t want to be the person I was turning into anymore, I sat down with my parents and just told them how I was feeling and they helped me by suggesting options. I had already tried anti-depressants and they hadn’t worked for me so counselling was the option I went for.

I went into counselling with a surprisingly open mind all things considered, I guess my logic was that I wouldn’t talk to friends or family as I knew that they had their own issues and so didn’t want to burden than them with my problems so if I was paying someone then they were going to listen to everything I had to say. As it turns out I was very lucky as my counsellor was brilliant, she put me at my ease right from the start and was very good at steering the conversations we had in a way that really helped. It helped open my eyes to the fact that I was surrounded by amazing people, all of whom care about me and who I could talk to if needed, and also made me aware of the fact that I had an excellent option if things ever got especially bad again. As a result I’m far more honest with people about what’s going on with me and as a result I think it’s really helped me as I can just be myself around people without the need to put a front up which is incredibly liberating.

Obviously people get depression in different ways with very different effects, I’m lucky in the sense that mine isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. It’s something I’ve taken more of an interest in though, reading things relating to it to try and get a better understanding of what other people experience, the book A Life Too Short: The Tragedy if Robert Enke is both fascinating and moving written about the German goalkeeper that struggled with depression and committed suicide does provide a lot of insight into just how much sufferers and the people around them can be affected. I’m not so naive as to know what everyone is experiencing but it has helped me to be able to be more understanding to other people I have encountered and I like to think as a result I have been able to help in some small way even if it’s just something as simple as listening to them.

I guess really the upshot of all of this is just to say to people who are suffering that there are options available to you, even if it sometimes things seem bleak. There will hopefully be friends and family who can help or failing that there are the Samaritans who do some truly fantastic things for people, counselling too and anti-depressants can also be useful. And I guess to those people who don’t suffer with it I would just say try to be understanding and not judge, and failing that just be a shoulder for someone if needed, sometimes just the knowledge that someone is there can provide untold reassurance.

I will just finish up by saying as previously stated this is just my experience and my view of things, I’m sure it’s far too simplistic in terms of the world but I like to think it works for me. Anyway apologies for the mountain of text and if you’ve managed to stick it out to the end thank you for reading.