Sadness vs. Numbness

Mental health

Today’s post is particularly similar to the horrendous weather we’ve been having recently – it’s miserable.

Despite being a little dampener to add to the rain, it is something that I really need to address.

If you have experienced the very lowest of depression, you will know it’s a feeling that you probably wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Let me tell you it is very different to placing someones head on dartboard and aiming at their head.

My lowest point is a moment in my life that will stay with me forever. Not because I can look back on it and see how far I have come, or use it to do wonderful things for other people like myself, but because it haunts me.

To the outside eye (or ear in this case) it probably seems as though there is nothing overly poignant in my memory. Shouldn’t my worst be self harming or contemplating actually jumping off that bridge? Nope. I was in the comfort of my own home. I remember sitting in my brother’s room, looking at the corner between the ceiling and the wall, hysterically crying and saying to myself : ‘I either run away or kill myself. If I run away, where would I go? I would probably run out of money, police would be searching for me all over. They would probably find me and bring me right back here.’ That was when I decided that my only option to get me out of this hell was death itself.

Fast forward to about 1 year later, and remarkably, I am still going. This is around the time it was finally concluded that I needed serious help, which brings us to the time I was prescribed antidepressants. First 20mg – useless. Then 40mg – took the edge off a little, but there was still something missing. Lastly, 60mg – everything went missing.

I have taken 60mg of Fluoxetine (Prozac) for around 2 years now. This is the highest dose of this particular antidepressant that you can get. Initially, I took medication and went to CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy. After a long time of doing both and a lot of money later, I decided therapy wasn’t for me and I would just let the medication do its thing – an unpopular opinion amongst many – yes I should probably try harder to fix the route of the problem and stop relying on medication that could just harm me in the long run etc etc…

Finally, to my point. Sadness vs. numbness? It’s a situation I never imagined myself being in. At my worst point, I imagined being sad for the rest of my life. Then when I started taking medication, I imagined all my bad feelings would go away. Wrong. In actual fact, all of my feelings have gone away.

I know this is what antidepressants do, they balance the neurotransmitter chemicals in your brain that affect emotions blah blah blah. But what they don’t tell you is that you are really trading in those God awful emotions for feeling like an emotionless zombie. In retrospect this is what I am now – particularly in the midst of waking up – I am not a morning person, no amount of medication will change that. Anyway, tablets make it far easier to sleep and you can walk past a train track without thinking of hopping on it which in my eyes, is a winner. But there are also symptoms that come from antidepressants. Altogether, these are called ‘Emotional Blunting’… there’s a term for everything, really, us depressives will never win…

The symptoms of Emotional Blunting go a little like this:

  • Being less able to cry in a situation where it seems you should – even if you want to. This feels a little bit like needing to sneeze but not being able to.
  • Feeling little to no empathy – those charity adverts with the children are my worst nightmare.
  • Not being able to belly laugh at the best of times – the feeling I miss the most.
  • Generally feeling like half of yourself is missing. You are the tiniest one of all those Russian dolls that go inside each other, you are desperate to get out but you are just too small to remove the layers.

 

So my question really is, is it better to feel totally sad, or to feel nothing at all?

I miss the days where I could laugh out loud, genuinely, and feel the joy of your stomach aching from the giggles. I miss being able to have a good cry with my Mum about missing my Grandma – reminiscing over the good days. But then again, I would rather never smile again than go back to that day in my brother’s bedroom.

For anybody that knows me, I hope this gives you a little more of an insight into my teeny tiny pea brain. For anyone that doesn’t, or has been going through the same thing wondering what the heck is wrong with them, please know you are not alone.

 

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

 

 

To Those I Have Loved, and Lost

Mental health

For a little while now I have wanted to write this post, I just had no idea where to start.

With my parents moving and leaving our hometown behind, it feels as though this is the right time to do it.

The past 2 years of my life have been a whirlwind. I left school earlier than I should have, I moved away from home and I started my career, all whilst battling a mental illness. These things are everything I have ever wanted to do. I remember being a little girl and pretending my bedroom was my own studio flat, and going to school wishing I was doing my dream job; I was so elated when I finally had the real thing. But because everything happened so quickly, I never really gave myself chance to realise what I had left behind.

Over the 18 years I lived in Kenilworth, I met people who will stay in my heart forever – no matter how little we talk or how far apart we are. I had the most wonderful friends growing up. People that shaped my life and made me the person I am today. The memories I have made playing on the street with my neighbours, pretending to be sick with my best friend so we could stay home together, going on holidays – those memories I will keep forever.

Unfortunately I lost a lot of those friends because of my own personal anguish, arrogance and absent-mindedness.

I’ve never been one to text, I’m still not now to my boyfriend and mother’s despair. But when I left school, I neglected a lot of my friends by rejecting their calls and ignoring their texts… (if I have ever ignored your text, I can honestly say this is nothing personal, I am just a huge pain in the ass). I’ll read a message, intend on responding, think of a message back then get distracted. Sometimes I will get distracted for an hour, sometimes a month. It’s one of my worst qualities and I can’t even begin to justify it. I’m not going to preach that it’s because I have been busy or I want to spend less time on my phone – it takes 2 seconds to send a quick message to someone and I know I could have tried harder.

I also never want to blame my mental health for the way I treat other people. I have been pretty shit to the people who have been so wonderful to me and now I am coping with my illness better, I realise that. Again, I can’t justify not seeing my friends for months on end and avoiding any contact with them solely on depression. But it did play a big part.

During both the peak of what I was going through and the recovery process, I spent a lot of time alone. I felt most content with my own thoughts. I even neglected my parents by spending every waking hour in my room rewatching the same TV show, sleeping in until ungodly hours and eating in isolation. By being on my own, I didn’t have to put up a front and I could be completely myself. When on my way to feeling better, I tried my best to rebuild the relationship with my family that I lost when I was so distant. When I did manage to get out of the house, I just wanted to be with them. They knew me best at that time and I felt safe in their company knowing they would be there if I broke down. As awful as it sounds, I had some of my best times on my route to recovery, being with my parents doing my favourite things; they just wanted to make me happy so we would go to new places and have a lot of afternoon tea.

Once I finally got to a place where I was ready to face the world and the people who once knew me, I felt (through only my own fault) like a burden. Everyone was doing just fine without me, they didn’t need my fluctuating moods and unreliability ruining what was one of the best years of their lives. I was also a significantly different person at this time in comparison to how I was beforehand. I had learnt a lot about myself and I felt like the first months of taking my medication stripped back a lot of my personality. I wanted my friends to remember me as the girl I used to be – fun, bubbly and alive – not sad and dead behind the eyes. It felt best to move on. If I knew what I know now, I would most definitely have made a different decision.

I’m sorry it took so long to give an explanation. And I am sorry I couldn’t do it directly. I am most sorry that I lost you in the first place.

I miss my friends with all my heart. And I would do anything for things to go back to the way they were. Right now, I think it is important we all grow at our own speeds, in our own directions. I hope that one day we will come together again and rekindle the friendships I used to love so dearly. Until then, I will laugh and cry about, love, and cherish the moments we had.

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

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Real Talk: Relapsing

Mental health
relapse
rɪˈlaps/
verb
gerund or present participle: relapsing
  1. (of a sick or injured person) deteriorate after a period of improvement.

I could very easily pretend like this weekend didn’t happen, and that it was all flowers, fairies and family (which 30% of it was may I add). But I also need to acknowledge the fact that the rest was not.

On Friday I had one of my most significant relapses yet. Everything felt like it was going wrong; I was tired, depressed and extremely alone. I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of helplessness wash over me. Granted, a simple wrong direction can have my world spinning upside down but this time it was far more prominent.

Whilst I’m at work, I keep myself busy. I don’t have time to over think things; I have like-minded people around me to talk to and keep me company. I really love my work and who I work with! But let’s not lie, unless you’re very lucky, there will always be some sort of boundary between work friends and actual friends.

On Friday it suddenly dawned on me just how alone I am. I have one friend in London who is usually too busy living his normal young adult life to fit me in with my work hours – which I don’t blame him for! I would too if I could. The closest family and friends I have are at least 2 hours away from me. It doesn’t matter how much I can pride myself on saying I’m independent, capable, adult etc. everyone needs someone.

Anyway, I came out of work to a completely normal Friday. I’m used to seeing everyone together having drinks in bars, eating food and laughing whilst making my way home. It doesn’t usually affect me but there was something about it that made me feel sick to my stomach. For some reason, I just cried… And cried and cried.

Then I went on to do things that the old me would have done, I walked down dark alleyways in hope that I would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I crossed every road without bothering to look, unconcerned about the cars and buses just meters away. I went through Shoreditch hoping a sleazy man would pay me some attention. I walked for an entire hour in the freezing cold, found a canal and just sat next to the water in the dark. I went into full on self-sabotage mode.  And you know the worst thing about it all? Not one person looked my way.

I find it more difficult to contend with relapse when I have been doing so well for so long. You feel like you’ve worked so hard for what? I also find it tough knowing therapy hasn’t helped me and I’m on the highest dose of medication I can get. What now? Is this really my life forever? A couple of months of feeling ‘normal’ then a weekend of self-pity and you’re back to square 1.

It’s tough as hell having to accept that you might go through this for the rest of your life. But after really thinking about it, there is nothing I can’t handle. Relapses don’t last into infinity. If they did, I wouldn’t be alive to write this post today. You can think that there’s no hope and you’ll be like this forever. But if you’ve relapsed, that means you have got better.

As much as we would like it to be, life is not linear. Our ups and downs, as painful as they are, teach us a new way of coping every time.

This time taught me – always wear a coat if there’s a possibility mental breakdown.

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

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How to: Ease Your Bad Mood

Mental health

I was going to call this post ‘How to: Improve Your Mood’, but I’m not a miracle worker and I feel like that would be false advertising. If we could all follow a few simple steps to ‘improve our mood’ we’d all be dancing on the ceiling. Instead, I used ‘ease your bad mood’ because no matter how awful I feel these always seem to take a little bit of the edge off.

  • Read a good book

A lot of people disregard reading as a way of making yourself feel better because when you’re in a bad mood, you often can’t concentrate on one thing. But I find that reading takes me away from my own thoughts; I am able to forget about the present and live in the book for a while. I recommend a lighthearted love story – cringey and cliché is usually best because who doesn’t love a book about predictable and unrealistic romance.

  • Watch a funny TV series

There’s nothing that makes me happier than lying in bed binge watching my favourite show. When I’m feeling a bit rough, I find it best to watch something simple that will without a doubt make me laugh. Whenever I feel down I know the cure is to watch Parks and Recreation. Over the past few months it has been my saviour. It’s so funny, no matter how awful I feel I can’t help but laugh – whether I want to or not. Hands down it is my favourite television show ever (and I am TV obsessed so it has a lot of competition). If we all lived like Leslie Knope in Pawnee, the world would be a much happier place.

  • Shower

I know this is really basic but to ease my bad mood I can do something as simple as have a shower. It shouldn’t be too long – so I don’t overthink and it shouldn’t be too hot – so I don’t get flustered. Usually I have music on when I’m in the shower but when I don’t feel so great I like it to be quiet (listening to the shower running is very theraputic, try it!) As ridiculous as this sounds, I always feel like a different person after the perfect shower.

  • Speak positively to yourself

Try to be more conscious of the words you are using. Trying to use more positive language always makes me feel better because I’m in control of how negative/positive I am. Treat yourself the way you expect other people to treat you!

  • Avoid:

It’s best to avoid doing anything that’s going to make you more stressed or aggitated. A lot of people suggest baking or colouring as a way of relieving a bad mood but personally, I think these could actually make it worse. For example, you bake cookies and they’re good so you eat one. Then you eat another and another and before you know it you’ve eaten the lot so now you feel like shit again. I guess you can’t generalise this to everyone, perhaps I just have no self control.

I have never understood the idea of colouring as a way of relieving stress; I’ve seen all these books saying ‘relaxing’ and ‘mindful’ colouring. I literally couldn’t think of anything worse. Imagine the pain of going out of the lines and ruining the entire picture because of one mistake… Maybe I’m just overly pessimistic.

Another thing I suggest avoiding is going on social media. I always feel on edge if I don’t check my social media often enough but honestly, what am I missing? A photo of someones lunch? Great. Another picture of that girl you don’t like? Because that’s going to make me happy. A lot of the time what I see makes me feel even worse. It’s so easy to compare yourself to people on social media. Realistically, everyone’s faking it, how happy can you be if you need to reassure the world you’re having a good time through a photo of a cocktail? I get that abandoning social media is easier said than done, but every now and again it’s good to forget about everyone else’s little performance and work on your own.

Failing all of those things, go on this website. It has helped me in the worst of times.

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie

XO

P.S. I published this post whilst in the worst mood ever – oh the irony.