Fools Gold

I have kept purposely away from this blog for some time now – I wanted to keep my head in a good place, avoid too much introspection and allow myself more time to ‘live’…  and things have been ok… but I am just beginning to realise/accept that this war is far from over… the tinge of gold I saw before on the road ahead, was perhaps fools gold….

To pick up where I last left off, I did my final therapy session – it was fine and I didn’t feel the urge to slap the therapist (metaphorically speaking) which I saw as a good thing. I do feel that I have been somewhat put off therapy now. I do not like the ‘relationship’ between therapist / patient at all. It just feels wrong. False. Insincere. Impersonal. I know most people get a great deal out of it – I wish it had worked out better for me. I know this was just one therapist and I suppose I didn’t really like him. I also know it is unfair of me to tar all therapists with the same brush – everyone warned me that it might take time to find the right therapist for me, but when you are at the mercy of what the NHS has to offer, that search is over before it’s started.

Straight after my last therapy session I had an appointment with my GP. I wanted to talk to him about my constant tiredness and falling asleep at work etc. We quickly established the reason for my tiredness was the fact that I was not sleeping well at all – I was waking up 5 or 6 times during the night. My doctor said that it was probably the fluoxetine and that perhaps I should try coming off it. I was very happy to give that a go as things had been going ok for me despite the tiredness. Over the next 2 weeks I slowly weaned myself off the fluoxetine. I didn’t suffer any ill-effects or indeed feel any noticeable difference. At first.

About 2 weeks after I had come completely off the meds, I began to notice that my moods were becoming more changeable and slightly erratic. Nothing bad and nothing I couldn’t cope with, but it was noticeable. I had agreed with the doctor that if I started slipping into a dark place again, then I would simply start taking the fluoxetine again. I did start sleeping better and therefore stopped falling asleep at work which was a huge relief as that had become a really serious problem for me and one that people were noticing. However, as more time went by, I started waking during the night again 3 or 4 times a night – not as bad as before perhaps, but not good. This time I couldn’t even blame the medication, so I went back to the doctors. By the time I saw the doctor I was struggling – I was nowhere near as bad as I was when I first went to him, but I was suffering regular downers and I could feel myself slowly slipping back into the abyss. I didn’t crumble into a blubbering wreck and was able to discuss what was going on and how I was feeling, with my doctor. I told him that I didn’t want to go onto fluoxetine again because of the bad effect it had on my sleep. He decided I should try lofepramine which apparently shouldn’t affect my sleep.

Imagine my horror when I got home to find written on the lofepramine box: “not to be taken with alcohol” or something similar. Well that was ridiculous and was never going to work. After recovering from the initial irritation that my doctor had not mentioned anything about not drinking on Lofepramine, I decided to jump on the internet and read what I could about what would actually happen if I ignored that and continued to drink anyway. There actually wasn’t that much – I found a few posts in various MH forums – a few horror stories of people getting totally out of control, or being violently sick after drinking while taking Lofepramine. I decided I would find out for myself and if it had a terrible effect then I would go back to the doctor and ask him to prescribe me something else (you can imagine how that conversation would have gone). Well I am pleased to report that for me, alcohol mixed with Lofepramine has absolutely zero effect. I don’t get more drunk, I don’t become a bad drunk, I don’t start foaming at the mouth or fitting or murdering people, I don’t puke my guts up or even feel mildly nauseous, it doesn’t make me more tired or restless, it appears to have zero negative effect on me. Happy days.

Since I started taking the Lofepramine (back in November I think it was), my mood has again stabilized. Sadly I don’t think it works as well as the Fluoxetine did, but at least it isn’t stopping me from getting a good nights sleep. There are also less other side effects – no nausea or upset stomach with the Lofepramine which is good. I have had a couple of real downers though which is a bit of a worry. The first being while I was on holiday in Devon over New Year. I blamed that on the fact that I believed I didn’t have enough pills to see me through the week in Devon and had no way of getting more until I got back, so I reduced my dose just enough to make what I had, last until I could get more. On the 5th day in Devon, I slid uncontrollably downwards and had about 36 hours of pure unadulterated misery. God it was awful. I couldn’t wait to get back home. Am I becoming agoraphobic or something? Maybe vacationaphobic? I can’t remember the last holiday I actually enjoyed. This once certainly didn’t have the desired effect.

So here I am, at the end of January 2012, back on anti-depressants, but doing ok. I think despite having had a couple of bad downers, the pills are working and have even helped stave off the usual dreaded January blues… although last year it was more like the dreaded January, February and March and err… April blues.

My break from this blog has been useful and necessary; at least now I know that blogging wasn’t ‘keeping me down’ as I was beginning to suspect. I was worried that by focusing so intensively on all the negative aspects of my life, I was preventing any chance of recovery. Now I know that it doesn’t make any difference at all, so I might as well carry on blogging…. as therapy is sadly no longer an option, this blog and the pills are the only weapons I have available to me. Despite my very best efforts, I have been unable to ‘will’ away my depression. Fools Gold.

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The Road Ahead

I have consciously distanced myself from this blog for a few weeks now for a few reasons. Firstly, I was becoming obsessed with this blog and spending far, far too much of my time thinking about it. Secondly, I was concerned that the constant introspection was perhaps not conducive to my recovery. Thirdly, the therapy started going badly and rather than focus on the negative which I would have done had I written about it here, I wanted to try and keep my mind focusing on positive things.

I’m still taking the Fluoxetine, and it has been about a month since my last therapy session. I have my sixth and final session next week. Despite the therapy going badly, I have decided to see it through to the end. The therapist feels I need to continue therapy for anything up to another 4 years… even twice a week. That isn’t going to happen. I can’t afford it so it is not an option for me.

My mood has mainly been good since my last post. I’ve had some rough times at work with my boss, but remained strong and in control of my mood throughout. I feel pretty strong and my outlook is generally positive. I am drinking too much, and smoking too many cigarettes and joints, but I am not drinking with the specific intention of getting drunk & forgetting my problems. One key thing is that I’ve stopped beating myself up about my bad habits which is both good and bad… good because I’m just generally happier as I am not constantly criticizing myself about everything I do and I’m just letting myself live without constant guilt. Bad, because I’m drinking & smoking more which I think is having the general effect of making me constantly tired. I am not however, turning up to work every day with a hang-over. Some people would be justified in saying that this is not a good state of affairs for me, however I enjoy it, and for now I am just letting myself unconditionally enjoy it.

I have been wondering whether to slowly take myself off the medication. I don’t want to be on it for the rest of my life and I have a suspicion that it may be the meds that are making me constantly tired rather than the alcohol & joints. If I start slipping back to that dark place again I can just start taking the medication again and then at least I’ll know…

My friendship with the guys across the road has continued to grow – they really are very good friends to me now and I spend a lot of my time with them. We have regular boozy evenings chatting & having a laugh. I might be drinking more but at least I’m drinking with other people and not by myself now.

So, onwards I shall plod with my life, I will do my last therapy session, I will try and ween myself off the meds and see how it goes from there. If there is anything of interest to report I will come back here and share it, otherwise I will continue to stay away and concentrate on living my life. I wish all of you who have offered words of encouragement and support all the very best –  you have my heartfelt thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts and comments. You will never know quite how much you have helped me.

The road before me now, has a tinge of gold to it.

Be happy.

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Third Therapy Session

I’ve spent the last 4 months climbing up a steep mountain, slipping a few times on the way but managing to hang on and keep climbing. I feel like I’ve just lost my grip and fallen all the way back down to the bottom. This time though, I’m exhausted, bruised and beaten. I don’t feel like I have any strength left to keep fighting – I feel helpless, useless, desperate. I’m back in a really dark place and my torch battery has just died.

I woke up this morning having drunk a lot last night with the guys across the road. Rather worryingly I didn’t have a hang over. We had a really nice evening and I went to bed actually looking forward to my therapy session this morning. I woke in a pretty good mood, had something to eat and a cup of coffee and went to see the therapist. I was fine. I started talking and said that I was concerned that although my mood has been pretty good for the last few weeks which was definitely a good thing, I felt that the underlying depression was still firmly in place and that all I have been doing for the last few weeks is hiding behind one of my barriers – fending off all the bad stuff and the bad thoughts – merely maintaining a pretence of happiness  in order to keep myself out of that black hole. I said I was concerned that the drugs weren’t really helping, apart from perhaps enabling me to build this barrier to hide behind. He said that I was expecting too much too quickly, that therapy doesn’t work in such a short time span, that it is something that would take more like 4 years of therapy. That revelation shattered my happy barrier into a million pieces and I lost grip of the mountain and started falling. I repeated ‘four years?’ incredulously and pointed out I only had 6 sessions with him. He said ‘yes’. I said that I couldn’t afford to pay for therapy and he said ‘can’t you?’. I looked at him with my mouth hanging open and said ‘no I really can’t’. He then said ‘well what about all  the money you spend on alcohol and cigarettes?’. My head was reeling by now and I said that they were the only bloody things that brought any pleasure to my pathetic life.

To be honest the rest of the session is all a bit of a blur. We talked about my low self-esteem and before I knew it I was admitting that I loathed myself. He said that most people he sees have the opposite problem – that they blame someone else… anyone else but themselves for all their problems, but that I needed to stop blaming myself for everything. My head is still in freefall. He asked me to give an example of something that I hate about myself. I told him about my Journeys Into Rage and how I despised that part of my personality – that since my teenage years I had promised myself to control it and never let myself become like my dad who can’t control his temper. He asked why, that perhaps it was ok to have a temper tantrum. I looked at him agape and said ‘never, ever will I give into that, it is something I am deeply ashamed of and a characteristic that I utterly despise. My descent gathered pace.

By now I have started to feel like a rabbit in the headlights, desperate, completely unbelieving about how badly this therapy session was going. I don’t know if it was his intention, but he slowly, methodically stripped me of all hope, of any feeling that I had a chance of recovery… 4 years?? I told him that I could feel myself slipping into a really dark place right in front of him. I can’t go on like this for 4 years. I started crumbling, tears erupted in my eyes and I finally lost the ability to speak when I said ‘I just haven’t got the strength any more…’

We sat in silence for about 5 minutes. I didn’t care. I was fighting to control myself, I was falling so fast into the darkness and there was nothing to grab onto. Falling, falling, falling. He eventually broke the silence when he realised I wasn’t going to, but I can’t remember what he said, I was still struggling to maintain composure… and failing. I managed to say that I felt like I had just fallen right back to where I was when I first went to see the doctor. He said ‘yes but you haven’t been there with me’. Jeez that makes me feel so much better. I’ve got 3 more sessions with him then my therapy ends. He’s just told me I’d need therapy for 4 bloody years to get results. Well that just fills me with hope and confidence. I might as well give up now. He came out with the same old ‘this isn’t an easy process and it will feel like you’re going backwards before you start going forward…’ Well I’m sorry but you just told me that I would need therapy for the next 4 years, so how far backwards do I have to go in the next 4 years in order to feel any positive effects? So far back that I finally decide I can’t go on any more? Because that is where I’m heading at the moment. Oh yeah and by the way, I can’t afford therapy so there’s no fucking hope at all for me then is there.

I have spent the last 4 hours since I got home staring at the ceiling in silence. I’ve stopped falling, but I missed every ledge on the way to the bottom. I can no loner see the point of going to therapy as clearly, 3 sessions won’t achieve anything. That leaves me just taking the medication, so what? Am I to take that for the rest of my life? No. So I might was well just stop taking that too. I’m ending the Medication Diary too. There’s no point to that any more either.

I might as well just face the reality of my situation and settle down to the rest of my shit, self-loathing, indifferent life. Thank god for alcohol and joints… oh they’re bad for my liver and my lungs are they? Who fucking cares.

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Waving or Drowning?

4 months into this blog and I’ve been on quite a journey so far: rock bottom,  starting this blog to try and make sense of my life, going to the doctor, sobbing, returning to the doctor, antidepressants, ups and downs, highs and lows, much self analysis, more doctor, therapy, mini melt-down, back up again, neighbours turning to friends, new boiler, new painting, job applications & silent rejections…

…so where am I now? What has changed over these last few months? Are things improving? I am certainly making positive forward steps, but so far the results have been pretty thin on the ground. I am at least still able to function as a human being, still able (just) to force myself into work each day, still able (begrudgingly) to force myself out to see friends and family. I am certainly in a better place than I was when I first went to my doctor, but the trouble is I don’t know if that has anything to do with the medication, therapy and blogging, or whether this is just the natural curve of my depression. How on earth can anyone even pretend to judge that?? I haven’t been diagnosed, but I do wonder if I’m a little bipolar – I don’t display the manic episodes, but my mood definitely swings like a pendulum. My ‘up’ periods make me more sociable, cheery, chatty, confident & outgoing, but the ‘ups’ are always punctuated with the ‘downs’. Unfortunately these downs have been very, very bad in recent months – more than I have been able to cope with.

I would say I’m ‘up’ at the moment, but I can feel it slowly slipping. When I am up, I manage to somehow bury the introspection and think about other stuff. I don’t let myself dwell on every aspect of my life and personality which always results in a downward spiral of self-loathing and despair. I am in fact, able to function like a relatively normal human being, think about things other than myself, involve myself in other peoples lives. It never lasts though. I recognise the warning signs: I start zoning out, shutting down, withdrawing, I become pensive and quiet. I am fighting it now as I type this. I will fight and fight and fight, but I always I get sucked down in the end.

Are the drugs working then? Well, I’m ‘up’ at the moment, but is that the drugs? I’m ‘up’ but actually if I think about it, what I describe as ‘up’, just means that I am not in a black mood. I am able to function better than when I am ‘down’, but actually the root of all my problems are still firmly in place. I’m still trapped in a poisonous work environment, I’ve still got huge issues with my sexuality, I’m still no closer to being able to form an intimate relationship with anyone, I still have no interest in holidays or recording music or the other things that I used to love, I still don’t really have any hopes, dreams or aspirations, I still think my life is a fuck up, I still feel like a failure, I still have very low self-esteem and confidence…. need I go on? All that happens when I am ‘up’, is that all my little walls, barriers and defenses I have built up for myself over the years silently slip back into place and enable me to ignore the truth – I disappear into my happy little bubble of self-deceit where I sit with my eyes closed and my hands over my ears and I sing ‘la la la I’m not listening…’

So now try and look at positives… I decided to fight and went to the doctor. I went onto anti-depressants, I started therapy, I started this blog. I managed to update my cv, I managed to decide what kind of job I should go for and actually applied for jobs – all good, proactive stuff. I’ve made good friends with the gay guys over the road helped them as much as I can with their money woes, I’ve been ‘up’ rather than ‘down’, I’ve… ok struggling now… I’ve… perhaps got the slightest spark of motivation back… I’ve doggedly continued with this blog…

All this I fear, would have happened without the doctors visit, without the Prozac and without the therapy. The more I think about it, the more I’m certain that nothing is really different at all – that all this is that natural bloody curve of my hopeless bloody depression.

I will continue with the medication, I will continue with the therapy and I will continue to fight, but I’m wondering if I am on the right medication and if I have been fully / correctly diagnosed… I’m wondering if all this is enough.

There is still one big, fat, ugly subject I need to write about which I have been willfully ignoring since I started this blog. I will have to truly steel myself for for it, but perhaps confronting it will be the catalyst – the final key to the door of my recovery…

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Second Therapy Session

I’ve just sat here for the last 5 minutes, fingers poised on the keyboard trying to find a way to start this post. I had my 2nd therapy session this morning and I’m feeling… odd. I would describe it as a ‘good’ session I suppose, we covered a lot of ground although it felt a little like a rollercoaster ride. I think I need to slow it down in the next session – it seemed that no sooner had I mentioned one major issue, than I was off on a tangent and talking about another one. It was my fault – my mind was jumping all over the place so it’s going to be hard to write this one down but I’ll try…

I got into the therapists office and sat down. Exactly the same as last time, we sat and stared at each other in a slightly awkward silence, until I said ‘so you want me to start again then?’. He did. You see, call me cynical, but I think he thinks this makes him look like he knows exactly what he’s doing, but actually  he’s probably thinking: ‘I’m just going to sit here and wait for him to start talking because I can’t remember who the hell he is, or anything about him but hopefully once he starts talking it’ll come back to me’. Ok so that is probably not true, but you can’t help wondering sometimes…

Anyway, I started by saying I’d had a pretty good week all in all, and had been in a good mood – until yesterday afternoon. Yesterday had started in a great mood, but it slipped down in the afternoon and stayed that way for the rest of the day. I have no idea what triggered it – I was aware the moment it happened and tried to identify the trigger straight away, but couldn’t. I said it was often my boss being a cow that triggered my sudden mood changes, but that she hadn’t done anything particularly bad yesterday so it couldn’t be that. He suggested that it was possibly just a natural change of mood not necessarily caused by anything in particular. Fair enough.

He then led me on to talk about my work and in particular my boss. I explained that of every person I’ve ever met in my life, she is the person who most needs therapy! I talked about her behaviour and her own special breed of nasty psychological bullying and he acknowledged that after more than 8 years of working for her, it was not surprising that my confidence had been gradually chipped away. He asked why I was still working for her if it was that bad and I explained that I have tried several times in the past to look for a new job but with no success. That it was getting harder and harder to even find the resolve to think about looking, but that it was absolutely vital that I find myself a new job if I ever want to get out of this hole. I felt that unfortunately the reality was I was getting no younger and it was becoming ever more difficult to find something suitable. He asked what my friends and family did for jobs and whether any of their career choices appealed to me – we discussed that for a while but in a nutshell, none of them appeal at all for various reasons. He got a bit hooked on my career for a while – I think he felt he wanted to help me find a new career path… I was happy to let him try for a while.

We then talked about the vicious circle of a poisonous work environment where more than anything you need to get out because it’s destroying your confidence, but conversely, you need the confidence to be able to be pro-active and find yourself a new job. I told him that the other problem for me was that whenever I looked at the job adverts in the newspaper or on the internet, I would always feel that I wasn’t capable or qualified enough, nor had enough relevant experience to do any of the jobs as described. This I know is largely a confidence issue, and it is one which has had my hands quite firmly bound for some time. It is however a real problem too – people want experience in their industry, so if you don’t have it, your cv goes in the bin. I did manage a couple of weeks ago to spruce up my cv and apply for about 20 jobs. I thought realistically about it and decided to go for other PA/EA roles in other industries as at least my skills are transferable to any industry (presumeably), so that at least was a big step forward, to decide what types of job to go for – not exactly my ideal role in life, but at least I know I can do that job and at least it gives me something to aim at. No big surprise that I didn’t hear back from a single one of them – not even a rejection letter. I knew that would happen though so it wasn’t a big deal.

The therapist asked why I wanted to get out of the industry I’m in. I said it was because I had gone as far as I could in my particular niche of the industry, that it held no interest for me any more and that I generally loathe the kind of person who works in this industry – the amount of over-inflated egos, displays of self-importance, and selfish, revolting behaviour from so many people is quite unbelievable. He challenged me on this sweeping statement, saying that this was perhaps another barrier I had put up and that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I was saying… I agreed that I have put up many barriers over the years in many aspects of my life, but this particular opinion was born of 15 years in the industry, working for various different companies and meeting an awful lot of deeply unpleasant, shallow people. I’m sure the same can probably be said of many industries. Perhaps it’s just a fact of life that you have to deal with these people in your working environment… god I hope that isn’t true.

We then talked about why I took this job in the first place rather than another job I was being offered at the same time in a different industry (believe it or not I was looking to get out of the industry 10 years ago and nearly succeeded. I told him that I took this one because it paid better and was going to be more fun (glass of wine at 6pm, awards ceremonies, lunches etc etc.) He was quite surprised when I said that I knew back then when I took this job, that the day would come I would look ruefully back at my decision and wish I’d gone with the other one. I took the decision to live for today rather than tomorrow. However, now it is tomorrow and I have to live with the consequences of my decision…. Taking my current job was never a progressive career move – it was convenient, quite well paid and  the more fun option, but ultimately I knew the other job had a ladder to climb and opportunities further down the line, but it was undoubtedly the more boring job. I still don’t really regret the decision, despite suffering for it now. I knew what I was letting myself in for and that I would ultimately be stuck in a rut. What I didn’t realise was the psychological abuse I was going to be subjected to.

I described my relationship with my boss, and the fact that I do stand up to her bad behaviour quite regularly, which ultimately has probably helped because I think she thinks twice before being a complete unreasonable cow to me. The other people in the office suffer the same as me at her hands, but most of them do not bite back. My therapist likened it to a bad / abusive relationship. That thought had occurred to me many times before.

We moved onto the way I behave in certain situations, so I told him about my addictive/obsessive tendencies (which I had recently blogged about so I suppose it was quite fresh in my mind). I told him that I thought I had an addictive personality, that everything I did was almost obsessive – my alcohol habits, my cocaine habits a few years ago, my tv watching habits, music… well everything really. He asked if there was something that happened in my childhood that I thought might explain this pattern of behaviour. He said that he got the feeling that I had some sort of an internal split as a person – that I obsessed about things, but then told myself that I was obsessing and tried to change it. I’d create rules for myself (not allowed to smoke a cigarette before midday, not allowed to drink until after 6pm for example). I agreed. He suggested these were just more barriers that I was building for myself. I surprised myself by saying that perhaps I created these rules for myself so I could feel like I was somehow in control.

He asked whether there was anything in my past that might explain this pattern of behaviour – I said that the only thing that I could think of that I knew had caused me many problems in later life, so could be at the root of this behaviour too, was the ‘crush’ I had on my teacher when I was at school (see my post ‘Just A Schoolboy Crush (Can scar for life)’. I gave him a basic rundown of what happened and what I felt this experience had done to me. He asked if I felt that I still loved him which totally stumped me for a moment – I answered ‘no’. I said that I was very aware of the scar that had been created, but that I didn’t believe that I still loved him. He still fleetingly crosses my mind on probably a daily basis, but I rarely ‘think’ about him. Of course I have been thinking about him a lot more since I started this blog as I’m dredging up all sorts of crap from my past. But after a pause for thought, my answer was most definitely ‘no’. I explained that I have never loved another human being since (other than my family of course). I have never had a relationship, and seem incapable of forming one.

The session pretty much ended on that happy note – I felt like I needed at least another 3 hours to even make a dent, it just felt like we had skirted around several issues but not got to the heart of any of them – we hadn’t even picked up on the conversation about my relationship with my mother from the first session. At the end, the therapist asked me how I felt, and I said honestly that I felt pretty crap. He said that was to be expected. I’ve been in a pretty low mood all day since (it’s 3pm now), the only thing that’s cheered me up a bit is the thunderstorm that is going on at the moment… I love thunderstorms (see I do still love something!!!).  The session today was draining and by the end I was verging on emotional which is something I haven’t really felt for a while. I certainly didn’t feel like going into work for the rest of the day.

So, is this doing me any good? Honestly? I still don’t know, but I’ll at least continue with the sessions and see where they lead. At least this guy talks back & offers thoughts and opinions – I need that. A silent therapist would be of no use to me. I don’t know if I should mention to him that I’m writing this blog… probably not.

Sorry if this has been difficult to read – it’s been really difficult to write so probably feels a bit disjointed.

 

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First Therapy Session

I had my first therapy session this morning. I didn’t really feel very prepared… although I’m not really sure what I thought I should have been doing to prepare for therapy?? I suppose it’s just that I haven’t really been thinking about it, I wasn’t dreading it, nervous or anxious about it. In fact I had no expectations at all which is most unlike me. On the walk there, I tried to work out what I wanted to talk about with him first. I couldn’t decide so I just stopped thinking about it and decided to just go with the flow once I was in there. I didn’t think I was going to like the therapist – I was very unsure of him after the introductory 1/2 hour a few weeks ago. I also felt slightly fraudulent because I wasn’t in the pits of despair, so why am I seeing a therapist? I quickly put that idea out of my head – it didn’t take me long to remind myself the reality of my life at the moment and my absolute need to take any help I can get.

I sat down in his office and felt a stab of embarrassed awkwardness as the first seconds were spent staring at each other until I finally said ‘do you want me to start then?’. He said ‘yes’, so I said that I felt much better than I did when I had first seen him. I thought the Fluoxetine was possibly having a positive effect, but I couldn’t be certain it wasn’t just the natural curve of my depression and that I would have been feeling ok even if I wasn’t on the medication. We briefly discussed Fluoxetine, then got down to the crux of the matter which was that I gleaned no enjoyment from life any more. Nothing excites me, I have no hopes, dreams or aspirations any more, nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for… etc. He asked me what aspirations did I used to have that I don’t have any more? …which stumped me for a moment. The list was rather short. Recording music gave me huge pleasure with the added vague hope that just perhaps, one day, I might have some success with it. I also used to think that one day I would love to get a job abroad somewhere for a year or two just so I would have spent a small part of my life living outside of England. I used to have slightly loftier ambitions as far as my career is concerned, and I used to cling onto the hope that one day I would find a partner. I’m sure there were other things, but as I said – the list was rather short. Now all of those things have basically turned to dust and I am left with no ambitions and nothing to strive or hope for.

He said that it seemed to him I had created barriers in my life that were stopping me from something or other – I’ve forgotten what exactly he said but something about trying to build a structure in a sea of emotions that are impossible to contain within any kind of structure (or something). I agreed. I have indeed spent the last 25 years building walls and barriers. Each barrier was very much for my own emotional self-protection, and each barrier was very successful in it’s purpose at the time, but over the years I’ve built so many and they’ve become so complex and intertwined that they are now creating conflicts and causing contradictory thoughts and feelings which have slowly overwhelmed me. Interesting and very possibly true. We discussed a couple of these contradictions I have encountered, and I mentioned that I thought a lot of my contradictions were caused by what I term as ‘social conditioning’ – for example you grow up in a society where little girls play with dollies, little boys play with cars and toy soldiers, then it is the norm to enter into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, get married and have children. Me being gay, means that I do not conform and my reality is in direct conflict with my social conditioning. He sort of agreed but suggested that what I was describing is a terribly old fashioned school of thought and that peoples attitudes were very different now and these things were not necessarily the ‘norm’ any more. I understood what he meant, but ultimately I was talking about my own experience – my own life and upbringing and that I of course have no idea what other people now consider to to be ‘the norm’.

He then delved back into my childhood and my relationship with my parents – I get the distinct impression there will be a lot more of that in future sessions. I think he believes that the root of all issues stem from your childhood, growing up, and your relationship with your parents. Even if you have a good relationship with them as I do, he believes that your relationship with your parents very much moulds the kind of person you become in adult life. I am interested to explore this further as it isn’t something I’ve given a great deal of thought to. I’ve definitely had issues with my dad in the past, but these things are ancient history and very much in the past – I get on really well with him now.

I did mention a drunken conversation I had with my brother and sister and their partners one evening a few years ago, where to my total surprise, in a conversation about our parents, my sister suddenly came out with ‘mum has never, ever once told me she loves me’. It was clearly a big deal for her, and obviously something that had been gnawing away at her for years, but it felt to me like she was talking about another person – that thought had never even occurred to me. My mum has never been a touchy-feely person, but I’ve always felt she loves me, so I was truly, genuinely shocked to find out that my sister felt this way – and so strongly. The therapist said that there was perhaps something we needed to explore regarding my own relationship with my mum and that perhaps not all my emotional needs had been met as I was growing up… not sure where that one is going to go but it should be interesting.

The most awful moment of the session was when he suggested that perhaps my current lack of aspiration / dreams / desires is in fact just a natural part of life and growing up. You spend your youth looking to the future and making grand plans and decisions about what you want for your future, then when you reach middle age, in theory, you’ve reached your destination and life then becomes something else… it’s not about dreams and aspirations any more it’s about… I honestly can’t remember what he said it was more about, as I was absolutely horrified by this thought. I think I might have even stopped him dead in his tracks and said ‘for gods sake don’t tell me that… because if that’s true then quite frankly there is no reason for me to live any more’. I have never said that before. But for fucks sake, if he was really saying what I thought he was saying, then I might as well just curl up and die, because life will have nothing more to offer me. I really hope I just misunderstood what he was trying to say, because life without hope, life without dreams, life without ambition and aspiration is quite frankly not worth living. At the moment, the only thing I have left is hope – the dreams, ambitions and aspirations have all gone. If I lose hope too, then I’m in serious trouble and I don’t think anyone will be able to help me.

I’m desperately clinging onto the hope that I can find ambition and aspiration again and build new dreams. Even through the blackest days I have always felt the presence of that little flame of hope burning deep inside – and it is that little flame, which always eventually guides me back out of the darkness.

If that flame were to be extinguished….

 

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My ‘Transiently Obsessive’ Personality

After my last post about my alcohol ‘habits’, I allowed myself to think about something else about my personality that I usually choose to ignore. I have an addictive personality. Nearly everything I do in life I approach like an addict. Firstly there are the obvious ones – I smoke cigarettes – I am well and truly addicted to those. Then there’s the alcohol, which I discussed in my last post – I don’t think I’m physically addicted but I am an habitual drinker, therefore approach the whole thing like an addict. Then there’s the cannabis – I’m definitely not physically addicted to that as I can take it or leave it – I just like it. However with Cannabis I go through phases. When I’ve got it, I often just smoke it because it’s there – I’ll get home from work, make some food (sometimes), pour myself a glass of wine or grab a beer, sit in front of the tv and skin up. That will become the pattern for days/weeks/months until I decide I’m doing it too much, make myself feel guilty and stop. For a while.

My tv watching habits are also like that of an addict. I mainly watch boxsets now, and when I start one, I become feverishly obsessed in watching the whole lot – I can’t do anything else (apart from drink and smoke) while I haul myself through series after series. I’m particularly hooked at the moment – currently on season 9 of Stargate SG1 and series 2 of Stargate Atlantis (following the recommended viewing order as found on a Stargate fan website forum). That’s 20 episodes per season – 9 seasons down another 9 to go (of all the Stargate series’) Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with watching boxsets, it’s just the way I do it. I become obsessed and don’t want to do anything else other than watch the next episode – even if I’m falling asleep. At the weekend I have to forbid myself from watching an episode until after I’ve got myself up and gone to the supermarket for food and done a couple of chores like hoovering or laundry. THEN I can settle in for the rest of the day to a marathon session of Stargate or whatever it is I’m watching at the time.

I go through phases. After I’ve finished all the Stargates, I will almost certainly collapse into an exhausted heap and take a break from watching boxsets – maybe for a week, maybe a month, sometimes 6 months or longer while I embark upon my next addiction. If I don’t find a new addiction to take over from the last, I become restless, bored, irritable etc.

Another addiction that will consume me for weeks on end is playing the game Civilization on the computer – each game can last easily 10 hours. That addiction is particularly bad as I end up not going to bed until 2am or 3am because I just can’t tear myself away – even if I have work the next day. I have stayed up until 7-8am in the past – but that was usually when combined to another, far more dangerous addiction that thankfully I permanently kicked about a year & a half ago: Cocaine. For about 4 or 5 years I spent an absolute fortune on this over-rated, damaging, dreadful drug. Thankfully I couldn’t actually afford a Cocaine habit so finances restricted the amount I took and helped to minimise my addiction, however I did become physically addicted to it and any fun I used to get out of it had long since disappeared. I gave up on New Years eve 2009/10, then very reluctantly had a few lines in June last year which just drove the final nail in the coffin of that particular vice for me as I didn’t want to take it in the first place (peer pressure), hated it when I did and had a dreadful evening because of it.

On the subject of drugs, I also had an addictive spell on Ecstasy from probably 1998-2001. Again, I stopped enjoying that, so stopped taking it. Now the only ‘illegal drug’ I partake in is the lowly joint. I don’t have a problem with that stuff and actually think it should be legalised as I believe it to be less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes (apart from the really strong stuff like skunk which turns young teens psychotic, but that stuff is a world apart from the good old fashioned cannabis resin that I smoke). Like anything though, do too much of it and it becomes bad.

I also became completely addicted to an MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) called DarkGalaxy back in 2001 (ish). You had a home planet and the idea was to colonise other empty planets, then when they were all gone, you started building fleets of ships and invading other peoples planets. You joined an alliance (usually about 30-40 people but up to 100 people) and you would have a forum to discuss tactics and plan wars with other alliances. As well as the forum many of us used to congregate on IRC and discuss plans and organise attacks. It was a really active community and great fun. And hugely addictive. Because players lived all over the world, you never knew when an attack might come – the more active you were, the better you could defend yourself and launch counterattacks. I used to set my alarm for 3am or 4am just in order to get up and launch a fleet or invade a planet. The game was turn based – 1 hour was 1 turn, and it would typically take 6 – 12 turns (hours) to travel from one planet to another. These games went on for months. Sadly the people who made and ran the game got tired of it and they pulled the plug. There were a lot of very sad people all around the world that day. I still miss it and have never managed to find another game quite like it, as good or as addictive. It was probably a good thing it was taken from me though or I’d probably still be playing the damned game now.

Recording music is another thing that ends up being like an addiction – once I start on a song or tune, I cannot rest or think about anything else until it is completed. Sometimes something can go down in a couple of hours, sometimes I’ll be working at a song for 3 or 4 weeks. Again though it is to the detriment of everything else including eating in that particular case.

Cooking. I go through addictive phases with this where I’ll go through weeks or months where I cook big meals every single evening, eat like a king, spend hours in the kitchen and in the supermarket… then I lose interest, the food goes to waste in my fridge, I slowly buy less and less in the supermarket & if I’m so hungry I really have to eat I’ll find the quickest easiest possible thing I can.

Sweets. I will go through weeks where I just gorge myself on sweets, then I won’t touch them for months and months even years.

Even alcohol – I nothing but white wine for months… actually years, then I switched to red wine (always Rioja), then I’d switch to lager or I’ll have a period on the gin & tonics. I purposely now alternate between red wine and lager.

Lunch – I will eat the same thing at work for lunch for weeks on end (currently Pret a Manger humous salad with a tub of edamame… been doing that for about a month so far). Before that it was noodles, before that chicken couscous… in winter I usually do soup & a baguette… whatever it is, I eat something to death until I can’t bear the thought of eating it ever again.

Sex – when I first found gaydar on the internet I spent ALL my time trawling through the profiles, getting in touch with guys and meeting up with them. About 4 years of that. Then it was a gay bar I’d go into every night after work on the way home. Then I got bored of that.

Then I’ll spend weeks and weeks doing nothing but playing the piano… then I’ll get bored of that.

Then I’ll find a new computer game and play nothing but that until I get bored of that.

Then I’ll spend weeks putting the band up on some website… say myspace or reverbnation, and I’ll spend all my time on that. Until I get bored.

I spent about 8 months completely addicted to researching my family tree… that also has now fallen by the wayside.

Currently, my addiction is this blog….

Everything I do, every interest I have, seems to be like an addiction. I think I could probably apply this theory to almost every aspect of my life. It’s like I’m a wandering nomad always looking for a home, putting down roots here and there, but never settling down, always moving on. Always restless, finding bits of happiness and contentment along the way, but never with any longevity.

I’m wondering if perhaps my current depression has actually arisen because after all these years, I have finally exhausted all of these diversions and distractions – I’m bored of all of them and I want something new but have no idea what to do next. I’ve spent my whole life bouncing from one ‘addiction’ to the next, so unless I can find something new that can become all-consuming, I won’t be happy. I have no idea what to do or think about all this  – I’ve never actually thought about it before. I’m sure it can’t be very healthy.

Thinking about it, I suppose a better word than ‘addiction’, would be ‘obsession’. I get obsessed by things…. oh… does that mean I have OCD? I thought that was a long-term habit type thing that just gets worse, like constantly washing hands or having to check the doors are locked 6 times before leaving the house etc. ? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

Whatever this thing is called, if it’s even got a name (I’ve rather grandly called it ‘Transiently Obsessive’ in the title of this post just to give it a name, but I’m not sure if that is even a real term), it is a rather disturbing realisation that my behaviour patterns are in fact so predictable…. and obsessive.

Thank god I start therapy in a weeks time.

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Am I An Alcoholic?

Alcohol… my friend.    Alcohol… my enemy.

My love affair with alcohol has been going since I was about 15 years old. At various points during my life there have been periods where I have clearly been drinking too much. The rest of the time I would consider myself a regular moderate drinker… although I think perhaps a doctor might prefer to describe me as a moderate/heavy drinker. I drink every day, and I would say I probably drink 1/2 – 2/3 of a bottle of wine or 3 cans of lager every day. On Friday & Saturday night I’ll let my hair down and probably drink a whole bottle (from 6pm – 1am) or 4 or 5 cans of lager… often finished off with a double whisky or a Cognac before bed. I occasionally have a night on the gin & tonics too but haven’t done that for a while. I very rarely get fall-over-drunk, and I very rarely suffer from a hangover. I always remember to drink water while I’m drinking & always finish the night off with a glass of water before bed (water is the only hang-over preventative).

Obviously over the years the daily quantities have fluctuated and when I was in my early 20’s I probably didn’t drink every single day, though it won’t have been far off – I’d have just been drinking in a pub with friends rather than at home by myself. I have always been conscious of the fact that I drink more than is strictly healthy, and I have always dreaded the thought that I might become an alcoholic and therefore have to give it up completely as a result. Over the last 8-9 years I would say my intake has increased, but not the amount I drink at home. The difference has been lunches at work where perhaps I’ve drunk half a bottle of wine, or there’s been some sort of work related do where the champagne is flowing. Then at 6pm we will usually have a couple of glasses of wine or beers in the office before going home (there was a period of about 3 or 4 years where I would regularly have drunk a bottle of wine before getting home sometimes more). I would then get home and crack open a bottle and drink maybe another half bottle of wine.

Things have (had to!) calmed down over the last couple of years. I rarely drink at lunch time and if I do it’s one glass of wine (the occasional boozy lunch does still happen but they are few and far between). I have stopped having the beer or wine at work at 6pm, and over the last 3 weeks I have been trying to cut the alcohol out completely during the week (I wasn’t very successful last week). I intend to try and keep it up but not beat myself up about it if I lapse every now and then. I just want to try and stop the habitual nature of my drinking.

Since I started writing this blog in March, I have been looking at all areas of my life and my alcohol consumption is something that I am always aware of, yet regularly choose to ignore. I do drink too much, but because I drink less than I did 3 or 4 years ago, I allow myself to feel ok about it. Since this depression really took hold about a year ago I suppose, I have started to feel more paranoid about it. I don’t get mindlessly drunk, I don’t lose my memory, I’m not a ‘bad drunk’, I don’t get aggressive (with a couple of extremely rare exceptions which I talk about in my post Journeys Into Rage). I don’t hide bottles, I don’t pretend to people that I drink less than I actually do, I never drink in the mornings, I don’t have uncontrollable cravings. I don’t deny that I drink too much, I do try to moderate my intake, I do drink lots of water… you get the idea… butter wouldn’t melt.

But, is my paranoia over my level of alcohol consumption just another outlet for my insecurities and depression – another thing that I’m beating myself up about needlessly, or am I in fact already an alcoholic??

Half of me says that yes I drink a lot, but it’s ok I have control over it. The other half is like a little voice whispering in the back of my mind ‘you’re already an alcoholic, it’s too late you loser…’ (I will just clarify that I don’t hear actual voices). I feel pretty confident that some people will read this and say that I do indeed have an alcohol problem, and others would say that I am no worse than a large percentage of the population of the UK. Who is right?

I think that perhaps the truth is that I am in danger of becoming an alcoholic, but not there yet. Although I have maintained my drinking habits for the last 25 years and it’s never gone out of control so who’s to say it will now? A doctor would say that I definitely drink too much and am destroying my liver. I smoke cigarettes and joints too – it’s either going to be the lungs, throat, mouth, liver, kidneys, heart…. well I also work in the west end of London and to be honest I’m far more worried about the air I breathe all day every day with all the heavy particulates from exhaust fumes, than I am about the cigarettes or alcohol.

Excuses, excuses.

I might get run over by a bus tomorrow.

My latest reply to people who ask me why I still smoke, is to say that ‘smoking is my pension’. Seeing as I don’t have any pension at all – absolutely nothing, then smoking will ensure I don’t make it past the age of 65, therefore I won’t have to live through years of miserable, old aged, lonely poverty. Sadly that one makes a lot of frightening sense to me.

I digress. Alcohol. Problem? No problem? Paranoia? Deluding myself? I honestly don’t know, but I think at the moment as long as I continue to try and keep a handle on it, then I should be ok.

Right, I’m off for a beer.

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The Drugs Don’t Work

Today is bad. My mood has slipped into blackness again – the drugs aren’t working. The only difference they appear to be making is that this time I feel nervy and anxious as well. Not a nice combination. I was ok this morning, I even got an ok nights sleep as I banished the cats from the bedroom. But I am so fed up with turning up to the same old crappy job, listening to the same old bitchiness from my colleagues, doing the same old boring admin… if I can’t do something about this soon I think I’m going to meltdown.

I think I’m going to have to book another appointment with the doctor to discuss the fact that the medication is not helping. My mood still chugs along somewhere near the bottom – as long as the mood isn’t black I consider that a good day… but it isn’t. I have no interest in seeing friends or going out, work bores me to death, my life is so fucking dull I despair. Problem is I’m in such a bad place that I don’t actually want to do anything. I spend all my free time watching crap sci-fi boxsets and crap tv. I don’t want to go away on holiday, I don’t want to stay at home, I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to see my friends or family… what the fuck else is there?? Jesus this is getting out of hand I seem to be powerless to help myself. To be honest the ONLY thing I have to cling onto at the moment is this piece of shit, self-indulgent blog about my boring, underachieving, miserable, fucked up life.

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Just A Schoolboy Crush (Can Scar For Life)

It’s been nearly 3 weeks on the Prozac and I’m feeling pretty disappointed. Perhaps I have been expecting too much, but nothing has really changed. When I saw the doctor last Thursday, he was a little surprised that I wasn’t feeling ‘much better’ – he seemed to think that 2 weeks was enough to start feeling the beneficial effects and was mildly concerned that I wasn’t. I know that many people say that it takes longer – 4-6 weeks even, but surely I’ll be feeling something by now?

Although my mood is not black, I still have no interest in anything, I am constantly fighting lethargy, work bores me, I have no desire to socialise, I am still unable to find anything to look forward to, I am still in a creative void and life is generally flat and dull. Nothing interests me, I have no energy, I constantly feel like I want to sleep.

I have to wait a month before the therapy starts, so in the mean time I have to somehow try to find or create some positivity. So I’m going to talk about something that I believe could be the source of my problems… what I think could well be at the root of my depression.

I’m pretty certain now, that a large part of the problem are my issues with my homosexuality, the fact that I’m only sexually attracted to older guys, the fact that I feel that a relationship is impossible because of the incompatibility of the age difference with those that I am attracted to, the fact that I am not attracted to people my own age or younger (or women), the fact that the older guys I am attracted to are nearly always straight / married / unattainable. I seem to only be attracted to ripened forbidden fruit.

So what the fuck is all that about then? Why?? Well delving back into my past, there is one event which would seem most relevant: When I was about 16 years old – an impressionable age – I developed a crush on a teacher. Nothing unusual about that right? Well the problem was, it went way beyond a crush. I fell in love. Absolutely, completely, hopelessly, desperately in love. My heart would leap out of my mouth every time I saw him, I would obsessively think about him, do anything I possibly could to be in his presence without drawing attention to myself. I was in the sixth form, he was one of my teachers for one of my subjects and he was the head of sixth form – I couldn’t avoid him (not that I wanted to), and unfortunately for me, forced circumstances just worked to feed my obsession.  Also unfortunately for me, he was very heterosexual and very happily in a relationship – but that fact didn’t alter the way I felt about him. I was under his spell and I was helpless to resist it.

It went on (and grew) for 2 difficult, heartbreaking years until I left school. During that time I had managed to manoeuvre myself into a position of trust and friendship with him, I had been on a school ski-trip that he also went on, there had been a couple of staff/6th form weekends away… I’d managed to get a lift home from him a couple of times (by conveniently being in the right place at the right time)… I look back on it now and the depths I sunk to make me cringe with mortification and embarrassment. It was bad. Really bad. But amazing as it may seem, I managed to keep my feelings and my pain hidden and secret.

Unsurprisingly I suffered my first major depression during this time. The pressure of keeping my secret, and the strength of my feelings quickly became unbearable. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it – I was so ashamed of my feelings. I learned during those 2 years how to walk out with a smile on my face whilst being torn to pieces inside. I think the depression I had (which lasted about 2-3 months) was almost more like a cry for help. I wanted him to notice that I was upset… I wanted him to be concerned about me, to comfort me… I even started to question whether I was actually really depressed or whether it was just another shameless tactic to get his attention – I still don’t know the truth to that question. All I do know is that it was all-consuming and terrible. Unrequited love, forbidden love, impossible love. It slowly, agonisingly ripped my heart in two.

Even when I left school after my A-Levels it didn’t stop. I stayed in touch, went on another ski-holiday, then when I went to University I wrote to him. When I left Uni and joined the band, I even managed to get him to come & watch a gig. In fact that gig was the last time I saw him – I suppose it was probably 1994 /1995. I think after that I realised that I had to try and move on – to let time try and heal the deep wound and gaping hole in my heart, so that I could move on with my life. It’s now 2011 and I am beginning to realise that I never really got over it. Time did manage to stop the bleeding, but the wound was too deep – the damage too extensive. To look back on my life at the age of 41, and know that the only person I have ever been ‘truly’ in love with was my teacher at school, is grim knowledge.

If I hadn’t been so bloody terrified of death back then, I would have probably committed suicide to be honest – it was such a hopeless situation, and it was all so out of my control. I was trapped in a horrible confusing nightmare and I couldn’t wake up from it.

There was one time during my big depression, that he called me into his office and indeed expressed his concern that I seemed to be very depressed and he asked me if I wanted to talk about it… and as desperately as I wanted to, and as perfect as this opportunity was, I just couldn’t do it. So I didn’t, and my heart tore just a little bit more. I do wonder what would have happened if I had told him. Would it have enabled me to get through it, get over him? I suppose a lot would have depended on how he handled it. All I knew was that I would never have been able to look at him again if I had told him the truth. The shame and humiliation would have been utterly intolerable… too much for me to have been able to bear. It quite possibly would have done me a lot more harm than good. Who knows.

So there you have it… the story of my broken heart.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that whenever I hear anyone utter the words “oh it’s just a schoolboy/schoolgirl crush” I want slap their face and explain to them just how serious, and how utterly devastating and destructive ‘just a schoolboy crush’ can be.

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