Posted in Some thoughts about my journey

How to eat an elephant

As far as I can tell blogging has rather a lot in common with eating Pringles: once you pop you just can’t stop….. This is just a quick one though, because I don’t have a whole lot to say for myself – in fact I only have two things to share with you today and they’re both a little sentimental (such is my way)

Sentimental thing number one:

I was genuinely touched by the messages of encouragement I received in response to my last post. All the warmth and positivity really meant a lot to me, not least because the people who read my blog know and understand exactly where I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am. So – thank you for all the kind comments, not just yesterday but ever since I started blogging almost six months ago. I had no idea what a lovely little community I was stumbling into when I hit ‘publish’ for the first time. All I can say is I’m glad that I did because you guys are awesomely awesome.

Sentimental thing number two:

Over the last two years I’ve learned an awful lot of important lessons but I really wanted to share this one with you – it can and does get better. It might not get better forever and you’ll never know when you’re going to have to fight your way out of it again, but you will fight it and you will get out. Keep doing all the right things even when it seems to be making no difference at all. Eventually all those things come together and you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In short? Keep on keeping on.

Turns out it is possible to eat an elephant after all. You just have to do it bite by bite (and keep your nerve when it gets really tough)

Much love to you all, WeeGee xx

Posted in Some thoughts about my journey

A different bus

The first song that I wanted to share with you today is so ‘obscure’ that I can’t find it on YouTube and I can’t think of an alternative so I’m a bit stuck as to how to get this post going.

I suppose I could share the other song I wanted to share. It doesn’t relate to the content of my post but it’s been my earworm for the past few weeks and I thought if I posted it on my blog I might be able to banish it from my head:

For the record, I’m not a Kate Bush fan and to be fair it’s probably this version of the song that is stuck in my head:

But no matter….. back to the point.

I had my counselling session today. I don’t tend to write about my counselling sessions because they’re private, but today’s was a bit different because I feel like I had a revelation so I wanted to share it. Be warned though, this is all a bit cryptic so I hope it makes at least some sense….

Mrs Mountain (that’s the counsellor) and I were talking about ‘waiting’ today. Sometimes, I feel like I’m waiting for the future to start which is what got us on to the subject, but it soon became clear that it isn’t just the future that I’m waiting for. I’m waiting for something very specific to happen, and even though I know in my heart that this specific thing is never going to happen, I’m still waiting for it to happen. I don’t know if that’s blind faith, or hope, or stupidity but it’s just the way it goes in my head. I’m happy to wait even if I’m waiting for nothing. Or at least I thought I was.

The thing is Mrs Mountain is good at examples that challenge the way I’m thinking and today’s example was a particularly good one:

If you turn up at a bus stop just after the bus you need has left and you stand there you are waiting – even though the bus isn’t going to show up because you missed it, you’re still waiting. If, on the other hand, you arrive at the bus stop just in time to see your bus pulling away and you choose to stand there anyway you aren’t waiting for the bus anymore. You’re doing something different.

“Fine” I said. “If I stand at the bus stop long enough another bus will come along”

And that was exactly her point. I’m not actually waiting for the thing I think I’m waiting for. I’m just telling myself that for now because I’m not ready to catch a different bus just yet  – but deep inside I know I’m going to be strong enough to catch a different bus sooner or later. That, I think, is a small crypitc step in the right direction!

Love from WeeGee (waiting for a different bus after all)

Posted in Some thoughts about my journey

The real damage

Today didn’t get off to a good start: some idiot turned up outside my flat at 7:30am and started digging a massive hole in the road with a MASSIVE drill type thing. It woke me up (on my second to last day of annual leave) and Gryff didn’t like it so he went bat shit crazy and jumped on my head causing a small blood injury. It was tremendous fun.

I understand that the guy had a job to do. But why did he have to do it outside my window at SEVEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING on the second to last day of my annual leave. Plus what’s he digging a hole for anyway? In my experience these people tend to come along and dig a massive hole in the road. Then they come back a few days later and fill the massive hole back up again. It’s a stroke of genius if you think about it. I mean, you’re never going to be out of a job are you…..?

I’m still grumpy almost twelve hours later. Can you tell? Anyway, let’s move swiftly on.

I’ve had a busy little head today. There’s been the usual nonsense to contend with, because that stuff never really goes away and there’s been some pretty big stuff like time, and existence, and identity, and religion. That’s some pretty big stuff there, isn’t it? I don’t think I’m ready to write that post just yet!

The other thing that’s been on my mind is friendship.

And that’s what I’m going to write about today.

Here’s the thing. I don’t have many friends. I don’t say that in a boo hoo please feel all sorry for me kinda way. I say it as a simple fact. It doesn’t bother me because I think the few friends I have are as many as I can cope with without me going PROPER mental. And also because the few friends I have are special. They mean something to me.

Here are some of the reasons that I have a small circle of friends…. I’m shy. I’m quiet. I don’t trust people. It takes me ages to get used to people, but sometimes it doesn’t matter because on occasion I decide that I hate someone as soon as I meet them. There isn’t a reason for hating them, not really but that’s the way I feel. I’m told this is wrong. I call it a gut feeling. Who says gut feelings are bad?

Here are some more reasons: I don’t understand people. I don’t understand people’s feelings. I find it baffling when people don’t feel the same way as I do, or like the same things that I do. I don’t lack empathy (no need to panic!) I just don’t quite get it when it comes to other people.

Here is the final reason: I get attached to people. In fact, I get too attached to people. In my experience getting too attached to people is a sure fire way to get yourself hurt. There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve just let somebody disappear altogether because I sensed they were disappearing a little bit. Generally speaking, it’s all or nothing with me and all or nothing is a difficult thing to be friends with – it seems needy and clingy and selfish. Maybe it is. But in my defence it’s also incredibly loyal.

Still, ‘all or nothing’ hurts me because I let people go when I don’t need to let them go. If I could understand the middle ground I would have millions of friends. I don’t think I really want to have millions of friends because that would be a bit overwhelming but I do wish I could learn not to let people go in order to protect myself because once I get to a certain distance from it I realise that the real damage is in letting go completely, not losing a little bit. Does that make any sense what so ever?

Let’s have a Frank Turner song called ‘The real damage’ while we have a little think about it:

I’ve had a little think….. It makes sense, but then I would think that because I wrote it!

In some way ‘friendship’ is on my mind because of my birthday. My friends are busy people, not shitty people and that’s why it was such a quiet day. Plus I don’t care about my birthday and my friends were all aware of that fact. I know that. But then I went and got all worried that I was more attached to everyone I know that they were to me and I decided I was going to get hurt very badly and that I was ‘setting myself up for a fall’. I decided I shouldn’t care at all and that I didn’t need any friends EVER AGAIN. Everyone was excommunicated. WeeGee against the world….

But then I decided that was broken brain speaking and told myself over and over that it was going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, isn’t it?

My friends care about me – of course they do. Mr Friendly and Mr Hilarious and Mrs Sparkle all came through in the end. Mum and dad came through too and even my brother got his act together and sent a little text. You need to know my brother to understand what a big deal that is!

So it was all okay.

But then I thought about some of the people I’ve met on WordPress and how much I care about them. I mean genuinely care about. I thought wanted to meet everybody in real life because that would make it all better and then everything would be fine. And then I thought uh oh! You’re doing it again. You’re getting all attached and involved with people THAT YOU’VE NEVER EVEN MET and that is going to end in disaster one way or another. You’re going to get yourself hurt. So I decided that there was only one thing for it. I had to stop blogging IMMEDIATELY and forget about everyone I’d come across.

But then I decided that was broken brain speaking and told myself over and over that it was going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, isn’t it?

Starting my blog is one of the best things I’ve ever done in terms of managing my mental health. I thought blogging would give me an outlet, but what it actually brought was more support, reassurance and friendship than I could ever imagine. And it’s okay to care about people, isn’t it?

Since I started blogging I’ve met people that I genuinely care about: Sailors, and Bourbons, and lovely Brandics, and Mooses (is that the plural of Moose?) and Roxys and Potters and so, so many more – everyone, actually. And it’s okay to care. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and you don’t need to meet the people you care about to make it all better. You just need to find comfort in the fact that they are out there, and that they ‘get’ you and they will support you and that you ‘get’ them and will support them right back. And that’s what it’s all about.

So it was all okay.

It turned into an Oscars speech in the end didn’t it? But it was a revelation to me….

Lots and LOTS of love from WeeGee (who has realised that it’s okay to care and that it’s probably going to be okay) xx

Posted in The small things lists

10,000 steps (shameless self promotion)

I’m on day two of the 10,000 steps challenge and a couple of readers have asked if I’ll be posting a link to my fundraising page on this blog. I had thought about it, but didn’t want to appear cheeky and I was worried that things might get a bit mixed up and I’d get ‘outed’

Anyway, now that people have actually asked it doesn’t feel so cheeky, so I’ve posted it below.

I know that you guys have never met me, but I suppose you know better than most just how important charities like Mind are, so, if you’re that way inclined I’d mean the world to me if you decided to support me by making a small donation. If you’re not that way inclined, maybe you would consider supporting me by taking a look at my other blog which I’m using to document the challenge. It’s not as good as this blog, because so far the only thing I’ve thought of to say is ‘took some steps…. Took some more steps’. But hey, you never know, it might get better as the challenge progresses.

Re the worry about being ‘outed’ I’m publicising the resources above to everybody who knows me – some of those people know what goes on in my head and others don’t. If you do visit either of those sites I’m relying on your discretion. I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands here, but I am doing this for Mind and you lot are a lovely bunch and I’m sure I can trust you. The only other thing to say is that even if you do get to find out my real name I’d like to stick to Wee Gee please because I like it better that way.

Anyway, here’s the page you need  if you feel like making a donation:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

End of shameless self promotion.

Posted in About today

My brain is broken and I’d like to complain

I’ve been in hiding today which, having survived the bank holiday weekend without once going into hiding, was a bit of a blow. It has made me think that I’d like to swap my brain – if nothing else I’d at least like one that has the decency to decide to go into hiding when I’m expecting it to.

In the end, the dreaded bank holiday weekend wasn’t particularly dreadful. Save a touch of the jitters on Saturday and a couple of wobbles on Sunday afternoon I was gainfully occupied with various tasks and activities and suitably distracted. Get this, I even left the flat more times than had I intended to. I met up with Mr Brave on Sunday for brunch – it was good fun and we spent most of the time talking about the merits and de-merits of online dating sites (his were the merits and mine were the other). I also caught up with Mr Friendly over lunch on Tuesday which was equally nice, even if we did spend a considerable amount of the time talking about how much of a nutter I’ve been for the past year or so. Two social outings without me going flaky and cancelling is quite an achievement for me at the moment.

As an aside, I’ve had a couple of attacks of ‘the jitters’ over the past few days. I’m prone to worrying – it’s usually quite endearing if a little frustrating – but the jitters are like my usual worrying multiplied by a million or two. I’m putting this down to the medication which we’re* working to increase so I’m hoping it will pass soon. There’s quite enough lunacy in my life without ‘the jitters’ thank you very much. (It’s also quite embarrassing to jump right out of your skin if someone so much as looks at you unexpectedly.)

Anyway, back to the hiding. When I’m well** I probably go into hiding about once every two months or so. When things aren’t so good, it’s closer to once a fortnight. This isn’t at all ideal when you are somehow managing to hold down a full time job no matter how understanding your employer is. Still, that’s by the by. It happens and you move on; that there is my brave face.

I wake up every day feeling like I can’t face it but I almost always do face it – and I try to see this as a positive. I try to be glad that it’s only on the smallest minority of mornings that I wake up with a giant ‘no’ surrounding me. When ‘no’ is upon me, it doesn’t matter what I try to think or what bargains I do with myself ‘no’ booms out in the background and keeps me where I am.

Today I kept telling myself that at X o’clock I would do a, b and c but before I knew it already was X o’clock and I was telling myself that at Y o’clock I would do d, e and f. In the end I gave up even trying to make plans and decided to go to sleep because going to sleep is still the best way I’ve found of avoiding myself when I’m sick of the sight and sound of me. I often sleep the time away. I tell myself that I wouldn’t be able to sleep that much if I didn’t need to but I know in my heart that isn’t quite true…

I eventually made it out of bed proper at about 6pm, still shattered, still low and still a bit jittery. Unfortunately, as I tried to force myself to go about the motions I found myself in the midst of ‘a bit of a maddy’. It was an unexpected ‘bit of a maddy’ and I actually began to think that it was going to be a This Is It Maddy. I was convinced that my brain had finally given up on me and I was either going to have a TV style breakdown and end up wandering around the outside world in my PJs raving at strangers or that I was going to do myself a serious mischief. It made me smile when I wrote the bit about the TV breakdown but at the time, it really wasn’t very funny at all.

Thankfully Mr Wise phoned at just the right moment, talked me down and helped me make a plan. The plan was that I would cook a meal, take a shower and write a blog post. If I still find myself feeling a bit This Is It when he phones me in a little while I’m going to go to A&E and tell them I’m having a mental health crisis**** and he’s going to pick me up and take me away from it all in the morning.

Anyway. I’m calm now and I think my This Is It moment has passed. I’ve got a phone call with a mate lined up before bed as well as another chat with Mr Wise and I’m going to do two lists for tomorrow – one for if I make it to work and a back up one in case the ‘no’ is upon me again. I’ll be on the sleeping tablets again tonight. I try not to take them unless it is absolutely essential, but I think today definitely falls under the essential banner.

Brains are rubbish aren’t they? I’d, really really like a new one that doesn’t pull such cruel stunts on me, so, as I like writing complaint letters here is my attempt to get an exchange….

Dear God****,

I’ve given the matter considerable thought and I would now like to return my brain to you and exchange it for a better one. It’s not in especially good working order but as I have not tampered with it or damaged it in any way it must have been faulty when I got it. It is still in its original packaging although this is a little worn around the edges.

Love and kisses Wee Gee xx

*I say we although I really mean ‘they’ but not because I’m paranoid.

**Oh how I laughed.

***This is the final step of the safety plan but I still can’t quite imagine myself actually saying it. Do you know what I mean?!

****Or whatever other supreme being is the one responsible for looking out for me.

Posted in Practical issues

Counting the pennies – an afterthought

In the off chance that my good friend (who knows who they are) reads this post, I should express some heartfelt and public gratitude for the awesome practical support, particularly on the money side of things. If my good friend doesn’t read this post, readers will at least know that I have a good friend who has been awesome, particularly on the money side of things!

Posted in Reasons to be cheerful

What not to say

Yesterday  I was having a nosey around the Depression Alliance’s website and found an interesting list of ten things not to say to someone who is depressed:

  • There’s always someone worse off than you are.
  • No one ever said that life was fair.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  • So, you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?
  • Try not to be so depressed.
  • It’s your own fault.
  • I think your depression is a way of punishing us.
  • Haven’t you grown tired of all this me, me, me stuff yet?
  • Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.
  • Have you tried chamomile tea?

(full list here – also includes 10 things to say)

With the exception of ‘stop feeling sorry for yourself’*, I suppose I’ve been lucky in that no-one has said any of the above to me. Still, it got me thinking about the way people have responded to me when I’ve told them I suffer from depression, or more rarely, when I’ve been talking about the impact it has on me…

In my experience the most common and the most frustrating thing people say is one of the many variations of ‘but why are you depressed’ or, in other words, ‘depression itself isn’t a real thing; what’s actually the matter with you?’ Sometimes it seems that it is impossible for people to grasp that this is a question that a depressed person can rarely answer. Sure, some bouts of depression are triggered by an event or experience (the kind of event that everybody finds difficult to deal with – redundancy, relationship breakdown, bereavement). However, even when that is the case (bearing in mind that many episodes of depression have no identifiable trigger), by the time the illness has taken hold the starting point has almost completely lost its relevance and the thing that is the matter is simply the fact that you are suffering from depression.

At this point, I do feel I should point out that over the years a lot of fantastic people have said a lot of fantastic and helpful things to me. Often people recount their own experiences of recovering from depression and I’ve always found this to be an extremely encouraging thing to hear when I’m in the pit. There’s a lot of re-assurance to be found in knowing that people you know (or people that know people you know) have found a way to climb out and put their lives back together – it’s a little bit of hope to cling on to.

At the same time, I have received a great deal of practical advice (put your shoes on and leave the flat being a particularly valuable one) and recommendations for resources and support material (this one being my favourite so far). Above all else, people have been kind enough to offer a wealth of helpful words of wisdom which have helped me keep my head in troubled times. For example here’s a particular gem that a former counsellor passed on to me years ago and which still means a lot to me ‘Everyone who got to where he  is had to begin where they were’ (R.L. Stevenson)

Having given the matter some thought I have been reminded that actually, the people around me right now are pretty fabulous and the people I have shared my secret with, both recently and in the past,  have almost always responded with genuine empathy and compassion.

And that there is a reason to be a teeny tiny bit cheerful.

*To be fair, I think there was a certain amount of justification at the time and under the circumstances!