Friday, 31 January 2014

One step beyond....

I knew I'd get some response but I didn't expect quite so many - on top of comments I have had almost 40 people contact my through email/text/messages/whatsapp, all overwhelmingly positive and supportive so thank you SO MUCH! Lots of really good suggestions but mostly, people telling me that they share a lot my experiences. I knew that depression was quite widespread but there's a difference between knowing it and so many, very different, people telling me: "I know where you are and it gets better". Of the personal recommendations of things that worked for people, counselling was definitely up there, but then other things like CBT, mindfulness, taking up an activity to occupy your hands, like knitting or origami, painting rooms, getting outside, screaming if you need to, amusing animal videos....

Also this interesting piece about the why constant access to the internet can ultimately end up making things more difficult.

I have already actively made some choices: I'm attending my first counselling session on Sunday evening, and I've found myself a friend in search of an allotment buddy! I've been thinking about allotments for a while but I know I would find it too hard to run a whole one on my own - but this is a marvellous opportunity and I'm so excited about it! Even just the act of writing my last post means that it makes it infinitely easier to ask for help when I feel I need it, because I don't need to bring up & explain the awkward subject of why I need help in the first place.

Thank you so much in proving to me once again the amazing friends I have and the wonderful people I've been fortunate enough to surround myself with over the years. I'm going to print out all your messages and emails and read through them when I need to. And I might.... I think I joined FB in 2005, so this will be my longest time without it in over 8 years, which is a pretty terrifying fact in itself!

Don't do anything too fun while I'm away, will you.....?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Facebook Free February


(Deep breath).

I am depressed.

I don't mean; "I'm very sad" or "Sherlock has ended" or "Tesco were out of Sauvignon Blanc". I mean, I'm currently in a place where I stare at the world and all I see is things I cannot do. Most of these things are things that, logically speaking, I can do. Like working a 9-5 day, or cleaning my house, or sorting out wayward builders, or walking Alfie, or deciding on the direction of my research, formulating a plan, and following that plan, or going out with my friends. Or getting rid of the piles of stuff in my house which were my dad's that I've been carting around for almost 5 years with no idea what to do with (this last point my mum has very kindly helped me out with by attacking it with an undaunted vigour, and just left me the simple stuff, like Freecycling the Freecycle stuff, eBaying the eBay stuff, and dumping the rubbish - I still have not been able to finish this). Every now and then when I think of all these things, I start to feel tight-chested and sick and there is a roaring in my ears. Sometimes when I'm walking down the road, I feel like something dreadful is about to happen to me, and I will not have the energy to fight. For a fortnight I couldn't sleep until the early hours, and even after ten hours sleep, sometimes I would wake up and be too exhausted to make myself some breakfast. I feel stupid and like I have no concentration span - that might be a surprise to a lot of people, but I spend most of my time feeling like a thick idiot and I just don't feel that I can retain the useful information that I need. I have to go through my friends person by person and prove to myself that they actually like me and aren't just putting up with me. Also; I have a note from the doctor.

Yes; I do know how lucky I am. I don't think I deserve better - in fact, I often think my family deserves a better person than me. I have so much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for, and dramatic as it might sound; those fact have saved my life. And I feel ashamed for not being able to buck up my ideas and get on with the business of life, as everyone else seems to be able to do. Up until the point my GP responded to my first sentence, I was sure she was going to tell me to get out and stop wasting her time. But I am here and I have tried and it has not worked; so I need to do something different.

Inasmuch as it can be broken down: obviously the main reason is that I still miss my dad terribly. Every single day I want to speak to him. In 2013, both my dad's father and uncle died, leaving so little of my family left. Kevin died five years ago in May, and only now is his inquest going to be held - but I still don't know when. For the last 3 months it's been "within the next few weeks". I thought it was going to be fine but as we edge closer but still haven't had it, I think about it all the time. There is just the basic reason that I have a family history of depression. The stress of owning a house by myself and having lots of decisions that are ultimately my own has not helped. I can't even make simple decisions without mulling them over and weighing up the pros and cons. There are lots of other things that I won't go into here. I imagine not doing enough exercise is playing a big role; but I've learnt that there's a big difference between knowing why something is happening and being able to stop it from happening.

Everything came to a head last week when I had breakfast with a friend of my mum's and listed all the things that I was stressed about in my normal pragmatic way. Then I spoke to my colleague whose father died suddenly recently, and all the horror and gaping chasm of reality I felt when Kevin died came looming up in front of me again. It's not the first time I've cried in the Combustion Lab but it is the first time I've had a witness. Then I spoke to my secondary supervisor and was barely in my seat before he was hurriedly getting me a box of tissues. We both came the the conclusion that I am not actually able to handle this myself, and need medical help. This sounds horrific, but actually, after at least a year of struggling this feels like a blessed relief.

There are a lot of things I'm going to do; predominantly organising some counselling, stop telling the people that care that things are "fine", shoehorn exercise back into my routine, prove to myself that I'm not totally inept, eating better, do things that make me happy.

Another thing I'm doing is; I'm giving up Facebook for a month. The shortest month of the year, but still. There are two big reasons for this: Time, and "brainspace".

1. Time: Even if I was able to measure it, I would be ashamed to admit the amount of time I waste on Facebook. Not just when I'm sitting in front of the TV, or on a train, or otherwise occupied, but times when I should be working, or when I could go out, or have house tasks to get on with. It's not just on FB, it's all the flipping links I click on whilst on there, which leads to the issue of attention; or as I'm just brashly going to call it, with no courtesy to neurology, brainspace...

2. Brainspace: I'm genuinely interested on how people's lives are going, and read tonnes of blogs etc. that people post, get involved in discussions that I know something about - but I never stop to ask myself how all the things I read are useful to me. Sure, they are interesting, but reading a blog about why Macklemore & Ryan Lewis didn't deserve the Grammy but Kendrick Lamar did, or why Miley Cyrus twerking is so bad, or so good, and what Sinead O'Connor thinks about the matter, or the various sides of the 20-year-old allegations of abuse against Woody Allen or BLOODY CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS USING THE SAME DISPROVED ARGUMENTS OVER AND OVER... ahem. But........ how does that improve my life?! It just gives me more bloody decisions to make! It's just too much information and that stresses me out. I feel like I want to know everything (except maybe anything about Hollyoaks/TOWIE/Posh version of TOWIE/Welsh version of TOWIE/Geordie version of TOWIE/American versions of TOWIE and Embarrassing Bodies....), and it's hard to accept that I can't. My mum made a very interesting point earlier: that taking on more information is a very effective way of ignoring the things you need to work on if you're depressed.

Also, counter-intuitively, I think FB has made me feel more lonely, as is very well described in this video by Shimi Cohen.

So that's it. For February. We'll see how it goes, but I have to be honest, I'm pretty scared. I think I'm going to miss out on tonnes of information, at least some of which will be valuable to me. Most of my social life is organised through FB so it'll be interesting trying to make sure I actually know what's going on. And all those cute pictures of animals, goddamnit!