Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Anxious over Anxiety

I am in work.

That’s a big thing to say right now. Last week I couldn’t do it. I had to take a few days off and work on the house, because I couldn’t bear going into the office and dealing with the staff, the clients and the ever expanding workload. I did stuff around the house, started therapy again, went to the gym, even spent time with my now retired dad. There was even a weekend away (more on that story later) but as ever, the weekend fades into the week and I couldn’t avoid it anymore. So I went in, my stomach and my mind punishing for that.

After three hours in, I learned something. I was okay. I wasn’t happy, but I am a lot better than I was 11 days ago, when I was last in. I have been busy, I have spoken with my line manager and I am getting on with things.

Am I better? No

Is stuff still there tormenting me? Yes

Am I going to wallow? NO

I have options if work becomes to much again, but one thing I have learned is that most of what is going on is fear. Fear is robbing me of my time, fear is robbing me of my confidence and fear is pulling me away from the people and things that I love. But I will not give in to fear. I am in work, but I am okay. I will go home and will hopefully be okay. My demons are still there, but I know I can face them.

This is not the story of my defeat.

This is the story of my triumph.

 

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Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Musing on a Miserable Monday

Relapse

It’s been a long time since I have been here, but here I am again.

After a couple of months of teetering, I collapsed under the weight of all the shit in my head. My stress, my anxiety, a touch of middle-age crisis and all together with our old friend thanatophobia. I am having obsessive thoughts, dwelling in fear and self pity again and I feel broken again.

I don’t mind admitting to you internet people, this is my own particular hell. But there is hope. I have been in touch with a therapist recommended by my old therapist Paula (a wonderful woman, but am not going to Warrington to see her, so someone more local was needed) I have started eating healthier again (16lbs so far) and am doing everything I can to beat these demons that infest my mind.

It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to quick, but I have beaten this before and will do it again, or at least do a more thorough job of it. As always I am supported by the MIGHTY Rosie and with her on my side, I feel I can do anything.

If you are going through a hard time yourself, I feel for you, but there is a place beyond this and with communication, help and the right mindset, these demons can be battled.

There is a place beyond this, every positive choice I make, is one step towards it.

That above phrase is stuck on my wall at work, I need it there.

There’ll be more to be said, but that’s not for today, today is about admitting that I am in a crisis and I need help. Sometimes we all do.

Take care of yourselves internet people, take care of each other too.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Blue Monday

Well internet people, Blue Monday again and the most ‘depressing’ day of the year is off to a cracking start.

After feeling pleased at the fact that our dog hadn’t broken another set of headphones, it turned out she actually had, since now they no longer charge. I’m going back to buying the cheap £4 off the internet, since buying nicer ones is a false economy, for reasons I am unable to do that just now, this is not an insurmountable obstacle to life, it’s still a frustrating start to a Monday. Rushing into work, I’ve been half productive and half not and the temptation to give in to the miserable weather, no money, stress at work and a less than relaxing weekend and feel down on this ‘bluest’ of Mondays.

But I am not going to. Is it miserable weather? Yes, but this is England, when isn’t it? Is the extra week before being paid make it feel like a longer month? Yes, but that’s hardly reason to panic. Is work stressful? Yes, but not as bad as December. Was it a less than relaxing weekend? Yes, but I spent it with my loved ones and there were moments of happy there. Playing Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 with the MIGHTY Rosie, Super Sam wanted to watch the 1980 camp classic Flash Gordon yesterday morning (Which we did) and some times of all of us listening to music and being happy together.

So am not going to wallow, am going to go on my lunch, go home and when I come back to the office, will attack the day and get some stuff done. This is Blue Monday, but blue is the colour of my true love’s eyes, the skies over Crete and Salou and the waters in the best places to swim.  Blue holds no fear for me, I will be alright and you know what internet person reading this? So will you. If this is a Blue Monday for you, realise that it’s upwards from here. It will get better, it will be brighter and it’s only Monday once a week. After that, it’s closer to the weekend.

This was not a great start to the week, but it didn’t have to be, all you need is one positive about the day and you’ll have that at least.

TTFN Internet people, I’ve got a day to get back on  track.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

For me, 2019 was, well it’s been a year.

2018 has come and gone. The start of 2019 has been a mixed affair, but am trying to see it as a fresh start, because after this last year, I needed it to be.

In the world outside it was a tumultuous one, with another year of Trump and May dominating the news along with the ever escalating clusterfuck that is Brexit. So the backdrop of my 2018 was division, despair and distraction. Seemed almost fitting to be honest.

Last year I stopped my meds and ended my therapy, ending a chapter in my recovery from my breakdown. It’s now more of an issue of managing things, being able to be aware when things aren’t good and act, rather than wallowing. It’s been a year of being able to handle it when things are challenging. It’s also the year of having to handle things being challenging.

Work has proven as stressful as it ever was, only now I’m not medicated to hell and can actually experience the stress fully. It’s been too much for our small little department to cope with and we have lobbied to get another person on staff. This took 9 months and after three days, I was glad that they were off on the Thursday/Friday of their first week. The second week went almost as badly, the third was more manageable and by the following Monday, he had quit, claiming he couldn’t handle the job. That is the kind of crap my job brings me. Then there’s been all the run up to Christmas and the need to do a month’s work in a little over 2 weeks. But there’s hope, we have a new, new person who seems to be more capable and very pleasant to be around, 2018 might have been rough at work, but 2019 has started well enough to maintain that hope.

At home, things had started to look up with an increase in communication between me and the MIGHTY Rosie. Super Sam has had stuff at school to be dealt with, which we did as a team and he is as good as he ever is. The MIGHTY Rosie has had health issues to deal with as well as other struggles that are not mine to share, so I won’t do. Needless to say, there’s been stuff that’s been tough to get through.

So by the time we got to November, we’d been through a lot of stuff, but worse was to come.

2 Months ago, Wilma the WTF Dog was killed by a car.

That was hard to write to be honest, it’s why a look at 2018 has taken several weeks to write, since I knew I would have to say that. It was a car accident and over very quickly, but since all three of us saw it, it was still very traumatic and sudden. We kept our shit together for our son, who took it hard. I’m not going to say more than that, it’s not my tale to tell after all. But the loss was on a greater scale than I have ever experienced before. She was a member of our family, our little girl and her being gone tore a hole in our family. We miss her still and out of the corner of my eye is one of the best pictures we have of her. At least seeing her no longer hurts, I no longer flash to that moment constantly, though that took a long time to get there. Everyone has been great, especially those who also have dogs themselves. I was back in work the next day, one member of staff wondered how the hell I was even in work. All I got was a day off from answering calls, that’s it. To be honest it took the shine off Christmas a little and whilst I had fun, there was always a tinge of sadness that came with that. She never got another Christmas with us. We tried to get back to normal, but it’s only at that point we realised that we were a family who had a dog, there was no more normal without one.

Work became difficult as a month’s work was needed in less than three weeks and so much work had to be re-done and it was draining. Then we heard that we could get another puppy, a family had posted on a re-homing website that there was two young kids, one more on the way and no way to take care of a new puppy. No red-flags, so we got the money together after a long and intense conversation made the joint decision to rehome the dog with us.

Her name is Lottie and that is going to be another story.

2018 was a bit of an armpit of a year, but we survived, we thrived and we as a family are stronger than we have ever been before.

There’s more to tell, but to be honest, I just needed this stuff out there right now.

 

More soon internet people.

TTFN

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Conquering our fears and pain

My beloved pet Wilma was in a car accident 2 weeks ago and died. This has shattered our family. I had to write that down, because if you hide away from saying or doing something, it gains power over you. It’s my first loss/trauma since my recovery from my breakdown and it has been both hard and also a yardstick of how I am doing these days. SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie are grieving and that is as much as I would say, since theirs is not my story. As the shock passes, the pain subsides and only the sadness and loss remain, it becomes necessary to get on the with the business of living again. We’ve ate healthier, we’ve played games, we’ve laughed, we’ve remembered, we’ve cried and then laughed again.

I’m not going to say much more than that on this subject, needless to say, family and friends have been amazingly supporting and understanding. A particular shout out to my mum and dad, who when I and my family needed them, were there in a flash and that meant a lot more to me than I expected.

So this had derailed much of what I wanted to say and do this month, but what I have done is get back to an older goal.

I have started driving.

I got a provisional license at 17/18 as most people did, but it was one of those things that people wanted for me and I felt that I should do, but it was never really something I wanted to do. In my 20’s I was always walking distance from anywhere and struggled money-wise, so it wasn’t a priority then. It my early 30’s I was enjoying my life with the MIGHTY Rosie, so it became something I would get around to. Then my breakdown happened. I have talked about that at length before, but needless to say depression and anxiety don’t really do well behind the wheel. But it’s something I should do. For my boy, it’s additional stuff for me to show him that learning is good. For my wife, it should take pressure of her to be the wheels all of the time. In case of emergency, it’s a useful life skill to have and mostly for me, since it’s a goal I can achieve and something I have been so very anxious about for so very long. I had a lesson booked last week, but as you can imagine, circumstances aside, I’d not be in the best place to try it last week. So last night I did.

It was terrifying, confusing, very alien and yet also amazing. All at the same time. Many if not most of you can and do drive, so this is no revelation, but to me, this was something of profound moment. Clutches, gears and the myriad things to keep an eye on seem to be a weakness so far, but my steering was good and only stalled the once. At 42, sometimes I have this feeling of I should have already done this with a lot of stuff, like I wasted a lot of my life. But my life led me to the MIGHTY Rosie, to being the man I am today, the dad I am and whoever I will be from here on in, so it’s time to add to that man. Terrified as I was yesterday, I did it. Scared as I am for the next one, I’ll do that too. Then the next and the next.

I have been on a journey for a while, now I am on a new one and to be honest, I am quite excited about where this will take me.

This month knocked me down, it broke me. I have wept, I have been comforted and comforted others, but I will as I have before get back up.

I have mantras and aphorisms which I share with my son.

“When do we fail?” I ask

“When we give up?” he replies

“So if we don’t give up, we never fail.”

If we don’t give up, we never fail. No matter what we are up against as long as we keep going, we can conquer the things that beset us.

I will get back to more regular posts, but right now, I just needed to say what I just said.

Love to you all internet people.

The Munky will return.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Stuck in the attic

Hello again internet people. I have started this post (but won’t finish it) from my new desk in my new office, in the attic of our shopfront office. This job has been at times an exercise in what I can have taken from me. I had an office, then another, then told to share, than put in a room with 16 other people. I had two printers and bit by bit was down to sharing a printer with 15 other people, despite my output being higher, not lower. Wednesday, that printer stopped working. I also lost phones for the day and now my new desk is a foot shorter. But all in all, have gained more than I have lost.

That left me with oft used idea of stripping your life down to the basics. The idea of removing anything from your life that you don’t actually need. There’s a degree of simplicity to that, which does appeal. I have been thinking about it on and off for a while, again inspired by work’s decisions and I have come to a decision about that.

I don’t agree.

While pruning the unpleasant elements of your life is a good idea, there are many people who I wouldn’t miss it they stayed out of my orbit, but the idea of only having the essentials seems rather well restrictive. It also sounds like survival. I survived for 36 years, until that broke me, after a long fight and a longer journey back, I have started to do more than survive. I have started to live. I have the things in my life I need. I have a job, a roof over my head and a loving family. But I also have wants as well. I don’t need to have a weekend away every now and again, but I want them, I appreciate them. After a day or two without it, I don’t need any phone, but being able to talk to the MIGHTY Rosie at any time is still a great thing. So yes, be mindful of the things you need, but also be kind to yourself. But the book you want to read, wear the clothes you feel comfy in, or pretty in. Drink the nicer coffee, eat the tasty food, walk in the sunshine. Survival is essential, but living is the goal.

Want is okay, because unless you are hurting someone, even yourself, what is the harm?

Be good to yourself.

Live.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous, The MIGHTY Rosie

Holiday Hangover

I spent this weekend in the Lake District, myself, SuperSam, the MIGHTY Rosie and Wilma the WTF dog. I was relaxed, played games, saw ‘The Nature’ and read a ton of comics. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, with my favourite people, surrounded by beauty and far from the stresses of life.

And then you return. Some of the reasons why that was hard related to stories that are not mine, but needless to say, these last few days have been very trying. From my phone being unresponsive, despite the alarm ⏰going off every ten minutes. My fitbit went missing and my Tuesday started to off the rails long before 9. I got to work and my anxiety was high enough, but was cut off from the MIGHTY Rosie without my phone. I think I rely on that thing too much. I have had a rough one, preparing for our department to move to an office upstairs and it’s a bit of stress that I can do without. I have struggled with low moods, anxiety and more than a little exhaustion.

I have been here before, the edge of that darker place in your head, but I am not going to fall in. One Monday, I put my son’s bed together with the MIGHTY Rosie. I have booked a weekend away in February and have got myself a comfy chair for my new desk. It’s the little wins that get me through the day. On the good days they are the norm, on the less than good, they are the light at the end of the tunnel. I have needed that light this week and because of it, I know I will be okay.

It is going to be okay, I think I have started to really believe that.

Okay, this was rambling mess, something more fun tomorrow I think.

Posted in Feelings on a Friday, Mental Health Struggles

Feelings on a Friday 38: Weathering the continuing Storm

Hello there internet people.

Been a while since I wrote one of the posts, it was last year in fact. The year has been a long slog of increasingly frustrating circumstances, punctuated by lovely moments and reasons for hope. It has been one of the hardest years work-wise in a long time and I will be honest, it’s been rough.

Outside of work, there’s been medical worries across the family, our recent addition to the family unit (Wilma the WTF Dog) has had a rough go of it, to the extent that the vets know us by sight now. The vets however have been lovely, so there’s that. Our recent trials seem to be levelling off, only fueling the belief that more shit is coming down the pipeline. What next?!? Has been the family response to almost all news we have received. It’s been a rough year and we’re not done yet.

So why post now? What prompts this little bit of time-wastage? Well I’ll tell you. I’m still here. With trips to A&E for both boy and dog as well as the MIGHTY Rosie and a dozen other things besides, I have stayed upright. There is a version of me, from not too long ago that would have buckled under all this. There’s a me that would have retreated into myself, or reacted very differently. There is that version of me, but I am not that version. At least not anymore.

I have weathered much of the storm of this year and it has been and continues to be hard. I have had moments of worry and stress that have moved towards the anxiety and panic attacks of old, but I have done alright. My son was at A&E (SuperSam is fine, but not the best day I can remember) and I was able to cope. There was a crisis with the dog (again, long story short she is also okay) but I was not only able to cope, but be the calm voice that kept my boy from freaking out. Both times I had used the phrase “It’s not okay now, but it is going to be okay.” That’s a bit of a platitude and those that know me know where I get that habit. But it was truly what I believed and truly what ended up being factual.

It’s not okay right now, but it is going to be okay.

I think I just became and optimist. When did that happen?

Maybe it was at the point where I stopped trying to survive and tried to live. Surviving isn’t enough, you have to live and that it what I want. I want to think well of myself, live in a nice place, do nice things with my family and write for pleasure, not to clear the demons out of my head. I want these things for me, I want them for the people I love, hell I suppose I want them for everyone. So how do I get them? What steps to I need to take?

I don’t know all those steps, I suppose like most people, I make things up as I go along. Fortunately for me, the MIGHTY Rosie and I are King and Queen of plan B.

This year has been hard on multiple levels and the strife isn’t over yet, but I will not give up, nor will I lose hope.

It’s going to be okay. For many of us it isn’t, but it will be. It will be better than this, we might just have to fight tooth and nail to get there.

I have been fighting for 5 years and more and I am done yet.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Finding My 5, when I need them the most

Feeling it at the moment internet people. It’s a busy time of year. I work in payroll (not the greatest job ever, but it has its moments) and like many jobs, it has a ‘time of year’. Y’know like Christmas for shops, February for florists and January for other accountants here and for me, it’s April and I’ll be honest, it’s been one of worst Aprils in years hence my shocking tardiness with Trivial Calender posts. I have been trying to work out why it’s been so bad. Is it the legislation changes? The workplace pension stuff that’s encroaching upon my job, or the fifty of so shitty clients I have recently inherited from a colleague? It could be any of those things as well as the one other thing that I knew. This is the first year I can actually feel it. I spent the first 35 years of my life repressing a lot of my feelings, leaving me unable to fully experience and express how I feel. Then came my breakdown, then I spent 4.5 years on medication that at best locked my worst feelings away, or at worst stopped me feeling anything. Over the last year I have started waking up more and on the positive side that’s happier times with SuperSam, Wilma the WFT dog and the MIGHTY Rosie, on the less positive side, well it was a rough April and it’s bleeding into May. Now as I am in May, I realise the main difference is not how I feel about work, it’s what I do afterward. I am more vocal about how I feel and more away that no matter how bad work is, it’s one part of my day and it’s a part that I can handle. I am OK, work not being good isn’t some great personal failing. I know this because it’s what I teach my son.

“When is the only time we fail?” I ask him.

“When we give up.” he answers, I have taught him never to give up and in return, that wonderful little boy is teaching me that. So yes, work is making me it’s bitch in the early rounds, but I am not out and will not give in, or give up.

Well, that got a little deep, didn’t it?

Soon fix that.

Since work has been less than stellar, the need to distract myself has been a bit greater, so have been reading and watching more stuff that has been good, so in the interest of being positive, am finding my 5

5 Things I have enjoyed in April.

Saga:


A mate of mine was laid up before Christmas with his leg and to keep him entertained, lent him a whole bunch of trades. A month or so ago, he gave them back and so I recently re-read the first 7 trades of Saga. Saga is the work of writer Brian K Vaughn and penciller Fiona Staples in an epic sci-fi tale about the life of a little girl, born in war to two parents, each from an opposing side in the conflict that seems to span known space. It is full of amazing characters, epic visuals, and twists, and turns, many hope that their beloved stories hit the screen, me I don’t know how they could get this right. Although I would love to see lying cat on TV or film.

Cougar Town:

I have started a new writing project. (More on that story later) It required me to watch an episode of this less regarded sitcom and once I watch that episode, me and the MIGHTY Rosie started watching it again have been enjoying it more than ever. I may write more about it, but like I said, more on that story later.

Jessica Jones Season 2:

Some Spoilers

After Daredevil hit Netflix for the first time, Marvel had an unexpected hit on their hands, well written, well acted and with a tone that differed so much from the Cinematic Universe as for both to completely ignore one another. Their second attempt was a more recent creation and a bit of a risk, but with an excellent cast and a solid story well told season 1 was a success. Once Defenders was done, the second wave started and with that came season 2 of Jessica Jones.

I will be honest with its themes of post-traumatic stress, unethical medicine, addiction and it’s uncompromising use of violence, it’s a hard sit. But over a couple of weekends, I watched the difficult second story and it worked really well. Rather than pad out Jessica story to fit the 13 episodes, it went into more detail with Jeri Hogarth’s medical issues, Malcolm’s search for belonging and Patsy Walker’s descent from likable supporting character to an almost completely unrecognisable person. The idea of the series seems to be a family is whatever you make it, wherever you find it, but not much can fuck you up like family. They were even able to pull off the returning villain Killgrave (David Tennant clearly having fun once again) and the flashback episode without cliche being poured all over it. The cast did really well and the story ends up with everyone’s life very different, but room to either flesh it all out for another series or call it a day without leaving too much undone, the best way to end it that I can think of.

Action Comics 1000:

Superman hits 4 figures, weird to think it, but there it is. Action Comics 1 was on the stands 80 years ago. That is mental when you think about it. The superhero has been with us 80 years. This overpriced comic (I’m sorry, it was overpriced, but I wasn’t going to miss it.) wasn’t part of some great story, or the start of a brand new era it was simply a love letter to the comic that started it all. We had stories from the current rebirth era, the crisis to crisis era, some Golden Age stuff, some Silver Age stuff and other bits and pieces besides and felt like a goodbye to the Superman we have at the moment, the ones he’s been before and a sneak preview of the new start being written by Brian Michael Bendis. I re-read it a couple of times and really did enjoy it. It made me want to give Bendis a try on this series, even though I have been burned before. But, not going to stop being an addict today am I?

Avengers: Infinity War

The 19th Marvel Movie in 10 years and the 18th that I watched in the cinema. With our boy at his grandmother’s the MIGHTY Rosie and I had a Sunday morning to ourselves and we decided to go to the pictures. I am not going to put any spoilers, but I can tell you one thing, it’s very good.

The entire main cast of the MCU is there with the exception of Ant-Man and Hawkeye and no one feels extraneous, everyone gets a little moment here, some get several. The performances are solid and Josh Brolin gives Thanos a degree of depth and pathos that really fleshed out the character and his motives make sense, he truly is the hero of this story from his point of view.

I could go on and on, but to be honest, I would like people to see it for themselves. It’s an old-school crossover event, a story told in several places that link up, heroes working together and the stakes as high as they can be. I watched a huge comics event on screen, on a couch, next to the love of my life, who enjoyed it too. Dreams can come true people, even the smaller ones.

 

The point of this post internet people (if there is one, to be honest, I just wanted to have something written down, I feel I haven’t written in too long) is that I am not having a great time of it in general, but that is in no way an excuse to wallow. Work is a pain in the arse, but there’s good stuff to watch and read and god people in my life to share this stuff with. Yesterday was horrible until 5, but ate tea with my family and ended up on the couch with the MIGHTY Rosie at the end of the day. Today can be as bad as it likes, if that’s how I end it.

I’ve been gone too long, but I am back.

Take care of yourselves internet people, then you can take care of eachother.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, The MIGHTY Rosie

Anxiety

I’ve been anxious today.

Well that could be any day of the week really can’t it? I’ve taken it easy on the mental health stuff recently, focusing more on the calendar and other geeky stuff. Partly because it’s not something I want to constantly talk or think about, partly because it’s better to concentrate on more positive things isn’t it? But it’s not really something that has gone.

I will never say I am no longer depressed, I have good days and bad days and for the last 6 months, there’s more more of the good, so that’s a positive. But my anxiety is still very much there. I over think, worry about nearly everything and when I have nothing to be anxious about, I am convinced that I am missing something. How fucked up is that? My subconscious mind looks for things to be stressed about. I worry about getting older, about work, about the welfare of my loved ones and my relatives and all the while, my brain kicks me for being so anxious, as if it’s a personal failing or something. When work is busier than usual (with the financial year ending this week) it’s worse, so I am as  the say goes ‘feeling it’ at the moment.

Yeah, I know, heavier than usual right?

So how do you battle this fresh hell? Well first I have to remember that it’s not fresh. This is no different from any other time when anxiety grabs at me. I am no stranger to this shit. So whenever I have been this way before, I have got through it. Experience, mistakes and disaster are often the best teachers, so I can use techniques that have worked before to ground me, or refocus my thinking. Another way is expression, hence this post. Speaking to someone about being anxious and knowing other people suffer anxiety conditions is a great way to remember that what you’re feeling is not an uncommon experience. Another technique, which is how I got through March is the ‘brass ring’ approach. Find something to look forward to and put your focus there. I had a fantastic weekend away not too long ago. (I think I will post about that sometime soon) and having that at the end of the tunnel really helped when things weren’t so good. So maybe I should be planning the next thing to do.

But in all fairness, the best way to battle the multitude of demons has been Super Sam and the MIGHTY Rosie, whose introduction to my life remain the best things that have ever (or will ever) happen to me. Last night me and the MIGHTY Rosie were laughing our arses off at a TV show that she had never seen before (more on that story another time) and just prior to writing this, I was using a stress ball my son made out of beads that absorb water. Stress ball wasn’t his intended use for it I am sure, but his wonder and excitement persist in my memory whenever I hold it.

Whenever you feel low remember this, you have survived. Whatever has tried to break you, kill you or ruin you, it hasn’t. You are still here, mightier than whatever befalls you. I am going to keep going, because I have too much to do, too much to look forward to and too much to live for.

I feel better after writing that.