Hopes and Dreams

I’ve had this down as the title of a post for a while.  Things seem to be going right at the minute so what better time to post about it.

Hope 1:  To be loved

For the first time ever, I can say I’m in a relationship.  Which is sad that it is my first relationship at the age of 24.  And it’s only been a thing for 4 weeks.  But this is making me happy.  It hasn’t changed how I feel about myself – I still hate myself – but he is making me happy.  With him, I forget sometimes how much I hate myself.  He seems willing to be with me through the good and the bad, but he hasn’t seen me at my worst yet, and that scares me.  That that could be too much for him.  That he will abandon me and I’ll be on my own again.  I’m trying to stay in the moment as much as I can, not question the happy, or worry about the what-ifs, but it can be hard.  I’ve always wanted someone to choose to love me, rather than feel like they have to.  And this is the first time I could have that.  So now losing it could make me feel worse.

Hope 2: To make a difference

All I have ever wanted in my life is to make a difference.  I’ve been to the lowest you can go, and I want to do anything I can to support others to not ever feel that way.  I’ve taken this view with my family, with my friends, and in the career that I have.  When my depression hits me badly, I can lose this.  I don’t see the point, I don’t feel like I can make a difference.  Then when I come out of my depression, it’s like I’m hit with a new sense of motivation, new hope.  I remember all that I want to do, I get the spark back, and for a time it feels wonderful.  To have that hope.  To feel like I can actually make a difference.  And seeing that play out is the best feeling I’ve ever had

What I hope for isn’t a lot – to be loved and to make a difference – but they are huge in themselves, and sometimes I think I’m hoping for a lot.  But if I could get them both, and not screw them up, I would feel totally complete and like I don’t need to want for anything.  That I would have exactly the life I have dreamed of.  A life that could make me happy.

Then again, I could just be being silly.

B x

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Distractions

Distraction doesn’t work with my anxiety.  When I’m anxious about something, I can’t switch it off.  I either have to face it, or talk it through.  I can’t ignore it.  I can try and drown it out, but it stays there.  It doesn’t go away until I’ve dealt with it.  And the only way to deal with it is to work through it.

Distraction doesn’t work with my depression.  I can do things that could distract me, such as watch TV, read – whatever it is that I need to do.  But it doesn’t change my mood.  It doesn’t change the fact that I feel like crap.  I’m just doing something whilst feeling like crap, rather than sitting or lying somewhere just drowning in it.  It makes me look like I’m okay, that I’ve got everything sorted, but doing daily things doesn’t change how low I feel, how worthless I feel, how much I just want to give up.

The one thing distraction does really work with is my self-harm.  When my mood is low, I can have self-harm thoughts a lot, and very occasionally I can have self-harm thoughts when I’m anxious.  Self-harm thoughts on their own aren’t the issue.  It’s when they come with the overwhelming urge to self-harm, with non-stop imagining what it would be like … the blade, the blood, the pain.  When that hits … I have to get out, I have to distract myself, or I know that in that state, I will self-harm.  And the urge goes … generally it lasts no longer than an hour or so at a time, so I know if I can get through that, then I continue having thoughts without the urge, and I’m safe.

I have a variety of different distractions that can work, depending on a variety of factors including how low I am, how long I’ve had the urge for, and how long I’ve been low for.  I might watch TV, or play a game on my tablet or Xbox.  If the urge has lessened a little, I might read.  I have an adult colouring book, which is one of the best things I’ve ever bought!  A lot of the time I’ll blast music out to drown out the self-harm thoughts, so I can’t even concentrate on any thoughts as the music is all I can hear.  If I try all these things, and I can’t focus and the urge is just overwhelming everything.  I walk.  I walk until the urge has gone.  I know that way that I can’t self-harm as I don’t have anything readily available.

Yes, these aren’t foolproof, and I still self-harm sometimes, but distraction has helped me get through a lot of times where I could have self-harmed.

Does anyone have any distraction techniques they have that have worked, I wonder?

B x

My depression

Depression is hard.  My depression is hard.

The majority of the time it’s like it’s not there.  I don’t notice it, it doesn’t noticeably impact my life, I can come off meds, I have no therapy, I don’t self-harm, and it’s okay.  It doesn’t exist.

And then it hits me, like a train.  It almost comes out of nowhere.  I don’t see it coming so I can’t counter it.  Once it hits me, I’m back on that slippery slope.  Once I’m on it, I don’t know how to stop.  I can’t stop.

The first time it happened, I turned to self-harm to slow myself down from falling.  I held it off until I had a change of scenery that flipped the switch and the depression stopped, just like that.  The second time, the self-harm came back, but I became suicidal, I didn’t ask for help, and I slipped to rock bottom and took an overdose.  This third time, my self-harm came back again.  I knew I didn’t want to hit rock bottom again this time, so I asked for help.

My depression is full of hopelessness, self-loathing, and not feeling good enough.  Getting out of it is hard, and sometimes I don’t even know what it is that stops it.  The thoughts just stop.  One day, I don’t have to distract myself from them or drown them out with whatever I can.  As quickly as it came, it goes.  So all I have to do is get through each time, and it will go eventually.  It’s almost like I don’t have any control over it.

I just need to wait this period out too.  I can do that, I think.

B x

Mental health and work

So my recent experience of my mental health and work has not been the most positive.  In the past, whilst at university, I tried to cope on my own without asking for support.  And that got me on a slippery slope that ended with me trying to take my own life.  So I knew when things started getting bad again the best thing to do was to ask for support from those around me, which included work.

However, work’s reaction has actually made me feel … well, it’s made me feel a whole lot worse.  They suspended me on medical grounds until I had an Occupational Health (OH) assessment with a medical professional saying I was fit to return to work.  They told me I couldn’t speak to anyone at work as they wanted me to seek support outside of work.  Having moved for the job, and being 2 hours away from family, my colleagues had become a source of support, friends, and like a family for me.  So telling me I couldn’t speak to them was taking away my support, as well as already having taken away work which is important to me, and which I very much view as a positive.

I ended up being suspended from work for 2 and a half weeks.  In that time, I was put back on anti-depressants, got assessed for counselling, and had my OH assessment.  The report from the assessment said I was fit for work.  Shock horror, I could have told work that!  During the 2 and a half weeks that I was off, I got informal messages from my line manger but nothing formal to check in on my welfare.  I did speak to a few friends from work, and they have been the best support I could have hoped for, and understood that being off work was not a good thing for me at all.

I’ve been back for a week and a half now with various adjustments.  Adjustments that I haven’t asked for, and that I don’t want.  They have taken away things that are positive for me.  When I tried to tell them this, I was ignored and they were put in place anyway.

I feel completely let down and abandoned by work.  I very much feel that the adjustments put in place are to cover themselves in case I do have a mental breakdown, and are not in any way to try and support me.  I feel like they’re questioning my ability to do my job, which is making me question it.  I hadn’t realised how much this entire situation had knocked my confidence until I got back to work.

It sucks.  I went to them for support, and I feel completely the opposite.  Guess that’s where opening up gets me!

B

Anxiety vs. Depression

My official diagnosis is anxiety with depression.  However, although I know at times that they can be linked, I experience them most of the time as very separate experiences.  As a result, when I’m talking to anyone about my mental health, I generally say that I have anxiety and depression, as that is my experience.  To me, they are completely different, and I deal with them in different ways.

My anxiety is something that everyone around me sees much more, especially at work.  It is the more visible of the two, which I guess is why I have the diagnosis that I have.  It shows itself very physically – I can’t sit still, I walk or pace a lot, I talk faster.  That obviously makes it easier for people to notice.  But I also generally manage it better.  I can walk it out, talking through whatever is making me anxious helps.  Maybe 10% of the time, I resort to self-harm, but I have other ways that I can usually manage and release the anxiety.

My depression is completely different, and is a lot more internal and in my head.  So a lot of the time, people don’t see it or know it’s there.  I’m quiet anyway, so when it causes me to withdraw, it’s not all that noticeable.  The only ways I’ve ever felt to manage my depression is self-harm or distract myself.  Self-harm makes the feeling go away for a bit.  Distraction doesn’t make it go away, but I forget it’s there.  So much of my self-harm is depression related.

I know the two are related in some ways.  If I get too anxious about something, or I don’t feel like I can resolve it in a quick amount of time, then that can spiral my depression, and make that hugely overwhelming.  However, what I have found is that depression doesn’t spike my anxiety.  Actually, when my depression really hits, there isn’t any anxiety at all, because that overwhelms everything and is all I can feel.

Because of the way the two come across, everyone thinks that the anxiety is my biggest problem.  But actually, the anxiety is a distraction, and covers up the depression most of the time, when the depression isn’t overwhelming.  The anxiety I have better techniques for managing.  So actually, my depression is the biggest problem.  People don’t see it and I have a tendency to hit self-destruct when it gets too bad.

So that’s the way I experience my anxiety AND depression.

B

I guess this is ‘hi’

Okay, so here it goes.  I guess I’ve started this blog because a friend said I should.  That what I write might help people, or put into words what someone else is feeling.  And although I don’t want to be too hopeful, if what I write can help even one person feel less alone or like someone understands, then it has to be worth it, right?

So, my background … I’ve had diagnosed anxiety and depression since I was 17, although I’m pretty sure one or both of them started when I moved to secondary school at 11.  I’ve self-harmed on and off since I was 15, almost 16.  And I’ve tried to take my life once, in 2014 by overdosing.  I’ve seen counsellors, psychologists, tried online therapy, phone therapy, medication … I’ve tried a lot in my time.  Oh yeah, and I’m 24.

The idea behind this blog is, to a certain extent, me explaining my feelings in relation to any or all of this.  My friend suggested I start a blog when I was trying to explain my depression and anxiety, and how to me I experience them differently, and so I have different ways of managing them.  And she said I explained it brilliantly, because I understand the parallel processes – which gave me the domain name for this  blog.

I’ll try and write up what I actually said as my next blog post.  Part of the reason for this is therapeutic.  I’ve always been able to explain my feelings better through the written word, and I keep a personal diary for this.  But if this can help anyone at all, why not share some of it with the public too?  I guess we’ll see 🙂

B