Monthly Archives: December 2013

F is for FRANK

Well, it’s been just over two weeks without meds, for the first time in 5 years or so – and I actually feel good!

I was so terrified by the memories of what life was like without meds back then – but with the amazing work I’ve done through therapy and the amazing works that God has done in, with and around me I’m feeling free and chirpy! Yes I still have chronic pain and fatigue and yes I still have depression but I feel that this has been a big and positive step!

Since having a bit of a clearer head I’ve been reading a lot about the meds I was on and sadly realising how little I and my GP knew about them and how wrong they were for me – and how common this is for so many people. I’ve also been saddened by people having similar experiences to me, such as being prescribed drugs and sent away with no real chance to just TALK and the GP having no real knowledge of my/our situation.

I am so thankful for the therapy I’ve had and am having but I know would NEVER had had the opportunity if it weren’t for a lot of financial help. It’s so easy to get lost in the system and to be treated as a number or a faceless problem. If it weren’t for my family, financial aid to be able to access help and my therapist I honestly am unsure as to whether I would still be alive…which makes me wonder about those who don’t have these things. And I don’t say that lightly.

For example, how you’re sent away with drugs, leaflets and phone numbers really upsets me. More often than not – if you struggle with depression, you will struggle with anxiety. Therefore, taking yourself to a group, leaving the house or making a phone call is something you just CANNOT do. Left then only with drugs to take that make you sweat excessively, shake, twitch, salivate, vomit, make you dizzy, make you manic, increase suicidal thoughts and feelings and so much more – you are in trouble.

Oh yes, and of course you’re put on this waiting list to see a free therapist – sounds good right?! Except this list is like, eternal and actually you probably won’t get to have one to one sessions. Sadly, this is hardly ever recommended to you so in reality, you’re put on a waiting list to get approximately 20 group sessions of CBT to learn how to cope practically. Like timetables. And stuff.

Again – not something I ever felt I could do, or infact wanted to do. Perhaps in a few years time when I had actually been given the chance to learn what was going on with me, had begun learning to heal and to express it what was going on inside me, perhaps then….but as a first measure?? NO! No no.

Plus, this is without my (then) GP having any real knowledge of what I was struggling with exactly – all they had to go on was a desperate delirious me saying I couldn’t cope with feeling so low all the time. How could they know CBT would work for me? How could they be sure I was capable of making rational decisions? How could they be sure that I would go? How could they know what drugs would help or harm me? HOW COULD THEY KNOW?

My appointment went (sadly) like this: The doctor asked me what seemed to be the problem, looked out of the window while I tried to answer, asked if I smoked and – with the door half open, having been hastily prescribed drugs – asked if I wanted to kill myself.

Nice.

One of my biggest worries is that when you struggle with this stuff, you NEED accountability. You need a LOT of help and support and encouragement. You need people turning up outside your door to take you to things – even if you’ve said no. You need someone elses voice to block out the ugly noise going on inside of you. Sometimes you even need someone to physically fight you or hold you or drag you! Depression tends to freak you out and make you do crazy things. Being sent away to have to access all of the worlds support groups alone is not something that makes much sense to me.

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I’m still terrible at throwing all of my energy at trying to be normal and funny and ok and good company. I’ve seen so many adverts and videos and leaflets and campaigns that plead with people to be real and to talk openly about how they’re feeling etc (which I actually truly do agree with) – but honestly? People can’t handle it. And how could they? I’VE never been trained or advised on how to cope with somebody who is suicidal or hears voices or who isn’t in control of themselves all of the time. How would I cope if my mother or son started chatting to me about how they were planning to end their lives, or how this person with a strange name was telling them things and would often take over them? Or if they turned up at my workplace in having a crazed episode or having just self harmed?

We can be SO ANNOYING. I am such hard work and I will take you to the edges of your love and acceptance and grace and friendship.

People who struggle with this stuff are hard work-FACT.

You will not find yourself in a nice, neat two way relationship that is fair and equal and rewarding. Oh no. You will be messed around, hurt, quite possibly hit at, cried on, rejected, ignored, shouted at and lied to. You will have to bandage us up, wait for hours outside our door, listen to us sob endlessly about things that may not make sense or indeed be at all real. We will forget things, demand things, refuse things and expect things. We are unreliable, self absorbed, unpredictable and worst of all – there really isn’t much you can do to help.

Not to be too controversial, but I really don’t think you can treat depression like any other illness. Because it won’t treat you like that! And it doesn’t treat its victims like that either. It is unique in so many ways and it is still such a mystery even to the brightest of minds.

So this muddled rant is finished, I didn’t expect to write most of that and it isn’t a work of art – but it’s honest and just my thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to tomorrow!

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F is for (you are not a) Failure

Today I want to say

So many of us live in a world of constant apologies and a constant awareness of failure. We set the bar way too high for ourselves and ultimately end up believing we are, as a person, a failure. We use phrases like ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘I can’t keep up’ and we end up crashing and burning. Quite regularly too – like it’s some kind of insane life cycle. But forget hibernation, forget cocoon making, forget growing wings and gathering food – I’m talking insomnia,panic attacks, relationship break-downs and eating disorders.

Where is the chance of redemption? Where’s the soul-deep rest? Where has prioritising our health gone? Why aren’t these things understood and honoured in our society?

To you who cancelled plans last minute last night – it’s ok.

To you who broke down on the bus on your way to work this morning – it’s ok.

To you who regularly spends time in the office loo trying to regain sanity and oxygen – it’s ok.

To you who eats lunch hiding in the storage cupboard – it’s ok.

To you who went to bed early instead of visiting friends tonight – it’s ok.

And to you who has already failed in five million different ways today – it really IS ok.

I promise.

You are NOT a failure.

You are tired and so, so fed up. You’re exhausted and your head is full. Your heart is weary and your chest is tight and sore – take a breath…there, feel that?Your jaw is subconsciously clenched and you’re on the edge of tears so often.

It’s ok.

I’m sure you can think back to the hundreds of times you’ve said that. To yourself,to others. The ultimate admittance that things are, in fact, not ok. Irony so common it’s not even noticeable anymore.

It’s ok.

Things are upside down and things are a mess. There are hidden walls, monsters andbooby traps everywhere. There’s baggage and lies and disappointments. There’s no time. No money. No resources. No space. No room. Nobody.

It’s ok.

Sometimes I picture life like the Christmas story – stick with me! Sometimes, life is a pregnant woman on a long journey, in labour, with nowhere to give birth.

What I mean to say is, I so often feel pregnant with emotion, confusion, memories,stress, rage, hurt, pressure and trauma – but with nowhere to release it. I’m holding something inside me that’s alive, it’s needy, it takes from me and it affects me physically. It changes me and it has it’s own demands. Sometimes it even controls me and makes me do things I don’t want to do – and the world around me is telling me there’s no room. There’s no room for all of that. There’s no space for me and my baby.

But it’s ok. Mary was ok. She found her bit of space. And people came to that space. And that space became something special because that’s where she had her baby. And people still talk about that space and relate to that space. Not because it was easy, but because of the difficult and near impossible circumstances. It’s ok to feel out of place in social situations. It’s ok to hate the daily, 9-5, boxed in, grey, grimey grind. It’s ok to listen to your body when it’s shouting at you to slow down. It’s ok to do whatever you need to, to get through the day. It’s ok to be different and to do things differently. It’s ok to cancel plans last minute or to go home early. It’s ok to have a meltdown, to stomp and cry and feel lost. It’s ok to feel like nobody gets you – it’s ok to feel like YOU don’t get you. It’s ok to be irrational and grouchy. It’s ok to need certain things or to do things in a certain way. It’s ok to have baggage and for it to affect you. It’s ok to NOT be ok.

But what can we do?

Let’s let each other breathe. Let’s give each other space and time. Create it, find it, BE it.

How? By being authentic. By being the real you and by being honest – painfully so. Don’t float along the surface of life. Don’t be afraid of the deep and meaningful – of the mud and grit. Shareyourself. Put yourself out there and try. Let yourself cry in place of wearing a mask. Admit your weaknesses and ask for help. Say sorry and face your mistakes. Take time to understand each other. Forgive yourself and forgive each other. Remember grace and mercy and rediscover what they really mean. Put love in the centre and work outwards from there. Make the jump a little easier and have a go.

And if you trip or miss or crash and burn?

It’s ok. You are NOT a failure.

Being vulnerable and speaking the truth is difficult. Figuring this life out is difficult.

And just when you feel like giving up, have another go.

Because it’s so, so worth it.

I promise.

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a blog about honesty, hope and losing everything