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Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

Living As An Act Of Rebellion

When you’ve grown up, like I have, being told over and over by society that “you are not wanted here”, every day spent on this planet alive is not only a struggle but an act of rebellion. Rationally speaking, the world would like nothing more than for all depressed people to shoot themselves already. We are a draining of resources, we “take” more than we “give” as a result of either poor performance at work or sheer incapacity to work at all. And we are an inexhaustible source of “negativity”, that modern virus so poisonous to positive attitude. I am not exaggerating when I say this: I have read accounts by remarkably mediocre “specialists” (of one kind or another) that “negative” people should be eliminated. Perhaps not in a “literal” sense, but the intentions are there. We are clearly unwanted.
The problem starts when you reply to society that our depression is not some kind of fashion accessory that we happen to be wearing at the moment because it makes us look cool and edgy. It is an illness, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it may be caused by society itself. That’s right. Our “condition” could be a consequence of the state society is in. We are, in a way, the “casualties” of a system purposefully designed to make nobody happy.

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A quick warning: this post is going to discuss compulsive eating, self harm and alcohol. Please be careful if these topics are triggers for you.

I wanted to post about something that seems to be happening to me at the moment – namely, that my compulsive overeating is getting a lot worse, I’m drinking too much, and I’m considering self harming again. All of this has happened more and more since I’ve been seeing a new psychotherapist privately. We started working together in January.

The therapist, Diane, and my NHS psychiatrist thinks that what I am going through is a direct result of  the work I’ve been doing with her. As if working through deep and difficult problems leaves a psychological rawness or exposed part of my mind that I’m trying to push down and keep away with food.

I don’t know if this is correct. Diane has stated that she wholeheartedly believes I can and will get better and stop having to use food to alter my mood. At the moment, my eating resembles something frantic, where I feel so trapped and on edge that I have to eat to calm down. Booze works better to calm me, obviously, as it’s a depressant, but I can’t drink at work so I use food instead.

That also might imply that I have some kind of control over it. I don’t. When I need to eat it’s like a tidal wave. I just can’t help but give in to it. It’s like a voice in my head telling my body to do things as my mind watches helplessly.

So, my questions are two:

1) Has this happened to you – have you ever gotten much worse in therapy before a breakthrough/getting better?

2) Have you, or anyone you know, ever fully recovered from an eating disorder (especially compulsive eating)?

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Where do I begin, I have so many things swirling around inside my head….Start at the beginning.

Firstly, I would like to apologise for having not posting on here for ages. I wrote a post on my own blog today about yesterday and how it impacted on me. But the self-doubts creep in and eat away at me. Yesterday made me powerless. I had to give my own statement of events regarding one of the G20 protests on the 2nd April to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and the experience made me feel powerless, vulnerable and exposed.

The feeling of powerlessness was palpable along with a sense of injustice (I attended Workers’ Memorial Day demo after my appointment with the IPCC) which increased listening to people at the rally talk emotionally of a death of a family/friend needlessly in the workplace, due to shoddy health and safety, cuts and sheer negligence. And then the uphill struggle of finding out the truth of why they died.

I sat there and found myself crying. And then I felt stupid because how could I feel upset, upset about my own circumstances, coupled with listening to testimonies of injustice and powerlessness. Brave people. Yet I chastised myself for allowing myself to get upset….about me and about the morning. I felt selfish.

This lies at the heart of my own lack of self-esteem and insecurities I don’t believe I am worth it, I don’t believe I can get upset over me. I minimise my own distress. I amount to little.

There, I said it. I was brought up to believe that others were important, and that I was less important, and that I didn’t have a right to feel depressed, upset or anything. I was constantly told by my parents I wasn’t worth much, and I believed it. I grew up believing everyone else was better, more important and worth so much more than me. If you had to get to heart of my anxiety and depression it is the sense of worthlessness. I amount to nothing.

And yesterday I was overwhelmed by anxiety yet I felt I didn’t deserve to feel upset and again, I find myself comparing others awful experiences in life so therefore I had no right to be consumed by this feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness.

Today I still felt emotionally exposed, I ran for a couple of miles on the treadmill at the gym hoping that would fight the demons inside my head, the endorphin chemical hit dissolving these insecurities, self-doubts andworthlessness. It didn’t. I found myself sobbing in the toilets, feeling so desperate and despondent. The ever prisoner in my own mind searching for an escape.

I kept thinking I can’t be the only person who thinks this about themselves, and yeah, I know I am not. I have met people who mirror similar beliefs about themselves, rather like me, they find it hard to take compliments, see the positives and so on. It is easier to believe the negative. And I can’t see myself in a positive way, people may like me, tell me they like, but it just bounces off my head, it rarely penetrates my psyche. I walk around with a false, disjointed and fractured view of myself, that’s what I have been told but to me it is my reality, it my own ‘truth’.

And I reflect these ‘truths’ to other people, because if I believe it others must do. QED. I have a damaged self-awareness. I assume that other people are better, more intelligent, lovable and likeable than me. My parents did well in drumming that into as it took so many years to realise this as on an unconscious level I had accepted this interpretation. I feel awkward and uncomfortable when people are complimentary and say positive things, that may seem surreal to a lot of people but I do.

When I have experienced rejection, I blame myself and believe it must have been me. It is always me. And that they will find people who are better, lovable, nicer and worthier than me. I can never compete. Again, this pushes me back to childhood, feeling unloved, miserable and invisible. I could never compete.

I know I am not the only person who walks around thinking this about themself. There is so much alienation, isolation and atomisation, people damaged by life and the sheer destructiveness of it all. I sometimes find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and in the human collective spirit.

The reason I am writing this is escaping from the inescapable (that’s how it feels like), making that dramatic leap where I can kinda maybe like and value myself and rid these distopian and damaging views of myself. Years of counselling scratched the surface. For me, just writing ‘maybe kinda like myself’ is alien and unsettling.

It is easier to believe these things and scarier to pursue an alternative, a more positive approach to my own self. Years of unraveling and healing cruel, inhuman and heartless conditioning.

I know people like me but how do I start to even grapple with idea of liking myself? In others words, how do other people cope?

Sorry if I have gone on…

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Long time no writing from me – sorry! Anyway, I wanted to write a little about something that has affected me for as long as I can remember – basically as long as I’ve been depressed, which is as far back as I can recall, and that’s food addiction.

It manifests itself in me feeling desperate to eat food at times when I feel trapped, stressed, bored, ugly, lonely or sad.

I am only really beginning to start analysing myself and how I deal with my problem. I’ve gone through one major hurdle in that now I find myself knowing, as I eat, that I am doing this for a reason – to help me cope with the feelings – and I acknowledge that I am hurting myself by doing it, but also in the short term that I am helping myself and that it is a less damaging way, perhaps, to deal with feelings than some others.

Despite this, however, it makes me unhappy; I’ve always felt too big for my natural body, as if I’m wearing a fat suit made of my anxiety and addiction all the time. I know I need to start taking time out to deal with issues whenever I feel desperate for food. I know I need to start planning my weekly diet a bit better so I’ve got fruit and veg to plough through if it gets bad, as at least that will be nourishing for me as opposed to damaging.

I want to start writing about my addiction, because I find examining it through putting it down in words helps to break up the opacity of it – a lot of the time I feel as if I’m lost whenever I do it – as if I can’t pinpoint what it is that’s making me so upset.  Sometimes low levels of stress causes me to just casually overeat. Sometimes high levels of stress causes me to properly binge. But I would say I overeat most days of the week, some more than others.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to examine, but I feel that I want to start talking about it more. Any other women out there with a similar issue? Write to me in the comments!

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So, things were going well & then halfway through last week the withdrawl symptoms kicked in. Sheesh, major waves of dizziness and nausea, despite having carefully cut down on my dose before stopping the pills.

I felt reassured that it was withdrawal symptoms, rather than some fun, new ME symptoms, due to the previous comments on here. Plus, some googling revealed hundreds of posts on message boards from people complaining about dizziness & nausea when coming off citalopram.

Ended up having a couple of days off work, as I couldn’t cope with the dizziness on top of my ME, but I’m pleased to say that everything is abating now. Back at work and minimal dizziness.

I have been waking up at about 3am every morning this week, which I suspect is another symptom of my body adjusting to coming off the pills, but I’ll re-instate my sleep hypnotherapy CD tonight and see if that helps.

Overall, I’m pleased to be off the pills after three years, despite the small hiccups.

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Photo by Mr La Rue

Photo by Mr La Rue

So, after nearly three years I am currently coming off my anti-depressants. I was on 20mg a day of Citalopram and lucky that I had no noticeable side effects.

Using anti-depressants is a very personal choice and it turned out to be the right one for me. However, it wasn’t an easy to start using them as it meant finally admitting that I was depressed and that I couldn’t cope.  I went through a phase of bursting into tears several times a day, including at work and this is why I chose pills. I needed to stabilise myself so that I could start dealing with my depression and work out what other help I needed.

I been to three different counsellors alongside using the anti-depressants, the most successful counselling treatment being the cognitive behavioural therapy I received in early 2008. The general advice from GPs about coming off anti-depressants seems to be that you should only come off them once you’ve felt okay for 6 months and then to cut down to a pill every other day, then one every two days etc.

I had 3 weeks off work before Xmas with my ME/CFS and IBS which was frustrating, but didn’t put me into a bad place mentally so I decided I was ready to start cutting down the pills. I’ve been cutting them down for the last month or so and I’m currently taking one pill every three days, so another couple of weeks and I’ll stop altogether.

The hardest part of coming off the anti-depressants is trying to decide what is “normal” for me. Before my depression I would very rarely get upset or cry because I tended to push all my feelings deep down inside. Now I’m double-guessing myself and thinking “am I upset because I’m coming off the pills?” The answer seems to be no, mainly when I’ve got upset the last few months it’s been about things that most people would find upsetting, and I generally deal with them sensibly and quickly. So, I still need to work on accepting and recognising my feelings and then working through them but overall I’m very happy with my progress and that I’m doing the right thing for me.

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Coming Out Into The Sun…

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know very little about me. I have been keeping a low profile, which is strange for me since I’m usually an “over shearer”. I think hiding in the intertube’s shadows has been a reflection of my emotional state. Unable to accept my life; or to accept that I am alive. Afraid of being rejected if anyone found out who I am. (It’s not that I’m particularly “bad” or anything, it’s just that I’ve been rejected many times in the past). It’s been rather important for me to not be rejected in the intertubes, since the people in it are practically the only ones I interact with. It’s also the case that in the intertubes I’ve found the closest thing to a place I feel I belong to.

I have recently made a commitment to stay on this planet. In short: to live. This means accepting my life and moving to change it; being open and honest. And learning to accept rejection. In order to do this, I am going to reveal who I am. I hope it helps me.

[Don’t worry if you don’t understand any of this. Read if you are interested in my humble story.]

My real name is Maria. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the 25th of May, 1983. This means that, much to my dislike, I’m currently 25 years old. I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember. It seems like I am slightly better now, but it could be a false alarm; there have been some in the past.
When I was 20 I moved with my family to Barcelona, Spain. After 6 months I moved to St Albans, England, UK to study Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire. Four years later, I (somehow) graduated. Because I had run out of money, I had to come back to my parents’ in Barcelona. I descended (further) into a depressive black hole out of which I am barely coming out today.
My nationality is both Argentinean and Spanish. I am a “Latina” for the USatians and a “Spaniard” for the UKazians. So I would define myself as “white”, but not “white enough”. (In case anyone wonders, I was conceived after the Malvinas/Focklands war ended).
I want to be a writer/(f)artist one day. (Oh noes, not yet another young feminist who wants to be a writer!). I know it will be particularly difficult for me since I write in English, which is not my first language. But I don’t care.
Part of the reason why I fell into depression for so long was because I had spent 4 years studying a course that will not lead me nicely to a stable job. I cannot work as an “astrophysicist” unless I spend another 10 years studying and get a PhD and two post docs all before retiring. I feel like I’m back to square one; only with considerably less money and more years on my back.
I don’t have much idea of what I’m going to do with my life, whether I’ll be able to survive as a writer or even as a feminist. But I’ve made a commitment to stay on this planet, and I’m planning to stick to it.
Some months ago I (somehow) found a job. It turned out to be Hell on a stick but it has allowed me to save money to return to the UK. And that’s going to be my next move.

(more to come)

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