Finally, an update.

Standard

Wow I can’t believe it has been all this time since I wrote a post. Incidentally this will be the 200th update so I’d better try and make it a good one…

I’ve started writing posts a couple of times throughout the year but could never really think of anything substantial to say. A lot of the time I haven’t had the mental energy to write anything longer than a few sentences outside of academic work, and sometimes not even then (more on that later). For a while now I have sort of dissociated myself from the mental health “community” both online and in real life. After a few years of it being my entire life, not a day went by when I didn’t think about my depression and where life was leading, I began to get tired of it and perhaps give in to my avoidant tendencies and simply ignore it. Of course it’s impossible to totally ignore the effects it has on your life when you have allowed yourself to become the rather messed up and eccentric (to put it mildly) person I am. It’s not something you can throw out wholesale but I made a concerted effort not to involve myself in the things that reminded me of the bad stuff, even though this was potentially damaging. I stopped talking to the people I know with mental health problems, ceased going to the doctor and I haven’t seen any kind of care coordinator or therapist for well over a year now. I realise this may be counterproductive.

For the most part of the period between my last update and today my time has been involved with desperately trying to keep my head above water with regards to university. The sharper readers among you will have noticed that I should have graduated by now but unfortunately this is not the case. When I first started my 3rd year I should have been in an ideal situation to get down to work; I didn’t have my recent suicide attempt hanging over me like in 2nd year and I also wasn’t living in the house where I felt confined and like I had to avoid my housemate’s boyfriend who seemed to take a disliking to me. I had struggled through that and with a few extensions to assignments managed to pass the year although with a much lower grade than first year (though with the increased difficulty it was partly expected). I don’t want to repeat myself too much but I moved into a flat where I shared a kitchen with 4 new flatmates, who surprisingly I barely saw for the entire year I was there. I still had issues with going to make meals and things though and tried my best to stay out of their way. I’ve almost given up trying to figure out why I have such a powerful desire to do such things.

Despite the improved living conditions, I soon got back into old habits that have plagued me since college in 2004 and began to miss lectures and seminars, telling myself it’d be alright and that on the day in question I wouldn’t be missing anything important. It turns out I am very easily convinced by myself in such matters… Of course the problem with this is that if you miss early sessions, you miss out on important information you might need for later in the year.

For my course, 3rd year involves you doing a large project throughout the year, on which a large portion of your final grade is assessed. I got into the downward spiral of being late to choose a project and putting off meeting with my assigned supervisor, partly because it was a member of staff I have trouble talking to because of his poor English (I know that’s bad of me). The deadline for the project proposal was fast approaching and I hadn’t even spoken to my supervisor once to confirm that I had chosen a project from the pre-approved list. I just went ahead and submitted the proposal which somehow passed but I got in trouble for not clearing it with anyone and was told that another student had picked that one so I had to change. I panicked and had been missing ever more lectures and workshops, my rationale being that because I hadn’t attended some of them at all from the beginning of the year, it would be embarrassing to turn up and have people wonder where I had been all this time. Of course that problem only gets worse and worse the longer it goes on. This had been my downfall at college where I ended up only attending a single lecture for one unit and only just managing to scrape a pass for it but things are much harder at university…

For one of my modules there was going to be a kind of mock job interview, but I did not realise this until too late. I didn’t really speak to anyone in my year about coursework, another reason I was afraid to attend lectures was that I didn’t want to be asked about how my project was going because I had absolutely nothing prepared besides my invalid proposal. This all sounds so stupid when I write it down and I’m sure if I had gone to talk to someone about it at an earlier time I may have been able to work something out but again avoidance won out.

After a few months and being well behind in every module, I realised something had to be done and I managed to get the courage to email one of the staff I had spoken to about problems last year. After some difficult explanation I managed to convince him to try and arrange for me to redo the year. Normally this is impossible, if you fail the third year then that’s it, you are out of the door. Thankfully he helped me to submit and extenuating circumstances request and he personally asked the Dean of faculty if my tuition could be waived because there was no way I could afford the £3600 it costs. I was told that this was highly unusual but amazingly it worked out and my request was approved. I owe that lecturer a great deal for helping me with this and I won’t forget it. The fact that I have another chance does make me feel guilty, I’m sure there are others with much more compelling reasons for not being able to complete the year who did not get another chance.

I apologise for the long winded explanation above but that’s pretty much where I was around summer this year. Over July and August I returned to work at the place I had been the previous couple of years and had to make up some excuses about being ill as to why I hadn’t graduated but overall work went pretty well. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work there as there aren’t any people who made my life a misery unlike at my first job.

Starting back at university last month I promised myself that I would try my very best to attend all lectures and so far I’m doing pretty well. I have missed a couple of workshops that my erratic sleep pattern (although nowhere near as bad as last year) caused me to oversleep for, but it’s no more than the average student who has a hangover would miss. I’m in yet another new place of accommodation this year, every single year I’ve been in a different place! This is the best one by far though, it’s like a studio apartment so I have my own small kitchen area. Lucky for me, my mum helped me out with the rent.

That’s the situation right now. Mood wise, I have been rather stable compared to previous months. I stopped taking sertraline, mainly because my GP left and I don’t really like the new one and I don’t want him to refer me back to the care coordinator who makes me very uncomfortable but I don’t really miss it. The depressive episodes that plagued me before seem to have subsided somewhat. I still have a very bleak outlook on things and find it almost impossible to be excited or feel any passion about things but at least I’m not actively seeking out ways to die any more. I can make it from day to day without spending hours ruminating about suicide. The social anxiety is still there, though I have been avoiding people and situations a lot so it hasn’t had much chance to manifest itself.

This is a thing I have been curious about though; how unusual it is for a person to be so withdrawn as me. On an average week I basically don’t speak to anyone besides to say “thank you” to shop keepers and the like. I still go home at weekends and so talk to my mum, dad and sister when they are there but during the week I am practically mute. In every class I sit alone, even more so than in previous years because there are now only 2 people whose names I know and might possibly speak to me if they saw me, everyone else has graduated. I do feel like it’s extremely unhealthy and I worry intensely what will happen when I eventually have to fully move out on my own and will in all likelihood be permanently isolated.

I might write a bit more tomorrow, this post has rambled on a lot but there was a lot to say since the last post. I hope everyone who reads this (the number of hits I get is still surprisingly high) is ok and I apologise for not staying in touch with you.

Hate

Standard

I gave up on my plan last week, I was too scared to go through with it and be discovered. I need time alone to make it work. Some people tried to talk me out of it and I felt so guilty that they care about such a useless person as me. I don’t know why I should bother hanging around this shitty world, in this shitty life. I’m beginning to think I’m incapable of being happy, the only time the pain relents is for a matter of hours and then it’s back again.

Why should I want to live? Everyone would seriously be better off without me. The same could probably be said of a lot of people, but I don’t want to be here. I wish I could give my opportunities and resources to someone else who deserves them. I’m sick of myself and how weak and pathetic I am. Nothing can change, the damage has been done and I’ve fucked up everything. I threw away a life, I can’t deal with the consequences.

Alcohol and the worst day of my life

Standard

Alcohol and I have a fraught history, but not in the way most people have. I remember back in the year 2000 when we came back to school after Christmas and the New Year (of course it was a special one). I was 14 (and 350-something days) then and it’s one of the first times I remember getting the feeling that I still experience to this day. One of being a child in an adults world, of being socially undeveloped. All my friends had stories of how they got drunk and had such a wonderful time, it seemed everyone did that except me. At that time, drinking seemed to me to be something that adults did, not me. Of course, legally that was true but it’s rare to find people who don’t drink before they’re 18 these days. I don’t know why it didn’t seem appealing to me, I was never one to go out of my way to “rebel” against authority so it had no illicit lure to me.

After that, they became more and more fascinated and obsessed with drinking and how much they could handle. I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision not to drink, I just never started. That was around the time I found myself increasingly wanting to get away from the people I once called friends. The ones who made me feel worthless and shit every day. This was another avenue for them to attack me with. By the time it came to get our GCSE results, they’d planned a piss-up celebration and I engaged my best avoidance tactics to make sure I managed to get in and out of school without bumping into any of them, take the phone off the hook and hide upstairs in case they came round to try and drag me out.

Even when I was old enough to legally drink, I still didn’t really want to. I’m not sure why, I think was afraid of losing control and letting my guard down, the guard which however weak, still defended me slightly from what I (sometimes rightly) perceived as threats. I couldn’t let myself be known and crushed, back then I just wanted to be invisible. I began to loathe the thought of it, mostly because I associated it with those people, those so-called friends attacking me and laughing at me for not joining them at the pub. I don’t know whether they knew how much they hurt me, I doubt they did.

I hesitated about writing this part because it’s to do with my family, but it affected me so severely I think I have the right to discuss it. My mum is normally a fairly quiet, inoffensive person but when she drinks, she acts foolishly. The first time I remember her dragging us into it was when her boyfriend first came to meet us at our house, she ended up arguing with him and shutting herself in her room, leaving him with us at 10pm downstairs not knowing what happened. She imagines things or reads too much into things and gets mad about them. The worst time of all was on her birthday in 2004. Her boyfriend had come to stay the night (he lived quite far away from us) and they had both had some wine with dinner. Later on my mum got angry with him because she said that he was looking at my sister. It’s worth mentioning at this time she was 16 and he was in no way interested in her like that, my mum is insanely insecure and jealous. She freaked out and started hitting him and threw a vase at him. My sister and I were in a complete state of shock, we’d never, ever experienced anything like this before. I can’t ever remember my mum and dad even arguing with raised voices, let alone physical violence. She was trying to hit him and he tried to hold her away and we just didn’t know what to do. My sister and I ran outside in tears and in the panic we decided to call the police because the amount of screaming and smashing made us seriously think that one of them could get injured or worse. They came round eventually but the argument had calmed down by that point, her bf was sitting in his car – he couldn’t drive home because he’d been drinking. The policeman told us that when he went into the house, my mum offered him a piece of cake, that’s how drunk she was.

When we dared to return, my mum yelled and screamed at my sister for calling the police, but what else could we do? When she is drunk like that, I honestly think she could end up killing someone. She stormed off upstairs, packed a bag and walked out saying that she was going to move out and live with her sister. I was seeing my life fall apart in front of my eyes. I had no idea what I was going to do, I’d been hoping to get things back on track after dropping out of uni because of yet-to-be diagnosed anxiety earlier in the year but it seemed everything was exploding right in front of me. I sat at the outside table and cried more than I ever have before. I wept like I was mourning the death of a loved one and I was shaking in full panic attack mode. Above everything else I wanted to comfort my sister, she was only a child and no child should be subjected to that, blamed for that outburst of idiocy. My memory is hazy after that but I remember waking up in my bed with my clothes on from the previous night. When I dared to venture downstairs, my mother and her boyfriend were sitting there like nothing had happened, like it was some hideous nightmare I had. They were opening her presents and playing at happy families but I could never look at her the same again.

I can never forgive her for what she did to my sister. Although she is very resilient (far more than me) I think it hurt her badly too. We haven’t spoken about it much since, except with knowing glances whenever my mum has a glass of wine. My mum hugged me and said “I’m sorry” but that didn’t really cut it. I don’t think our relationship has been the same since. I used to trust her absolutely, she was someone I always loved and never hurt me but that was the worst day of my life and she scarred me forever.

In the following 2 weeks, I had the strangest sensation I have ever experienced. I felt like I wasn’t quite there and I was kind of on autopilot. Words came out of my mouth and I walked around but it wasn’t me who was in control. I later learned that this is called depersonalisation and is a recognised psychological symptom of anxiety. We were planning to go on holiday the following week and it did happen, though I feel like I wasn’t really there for it. Luckily she refrained from drinking for the week. After we came back, it wasn’t long before they broke up, unsurprisingly. Ironically (well it’s not really irony, I know but I can’t think of the right word) it was the day I was starting college after being out of education since my acrimonious departure from university, so when I needed the most support, my mum was off work crying her eyes out because she’d been dumped. Marvellous.

Since then, I’ve never felt the desire to get drunk. I never want to behave like she did and still does (although to a much lesser extent thankfully). I used to kid myself and pretend I was above it all and I’d think to myself that people were sad if they needed to be drunk to have a good time. Of course now I’m the ultimate example of someone who has a chemical dependancy in order to even be capable of going out of the house. I never made my holier than thou attitude public, in case you think that is one of the reasons for my unpopularity by the way.

I’ll leave it here for now because this post is almost essay length already and it’s nearly 3am. I hope you enjoy this insight into the fucked up world that is my life.

Trying to feel better

Standard

I got to spend time with my sister today, I feel better having someone around to talk to and we got out of the house for a bit. It’s easier to keep my mind off troubling things when I have someone to talk to, it’s just hard because there are so few people I can talk to comfortably. The bad feelings have faded for a while, I hope for longer than they did last time. I’m trying to think of constructive things to do and Penny’s post about volunteering has inspired me to look into it again. I was considering volunteering somewhere before I went to university but if you read my blog back then, you might remember I went through a similar crisis around that time so couldn’t really arrange anything. I’m going to make myself read through a chapter of the social anxiety book again and try to ignore the defeatist thoughts I often have about it when I get back to uni tonight.

Thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages when I was feeling so low, it may not seem like much but it really does help to know someone is out there reading and cares enough to write.

Coming Home

Standard

I deliberately chose a university close to where I live so that I would be able to come home every now and then. Despite how old I am, I’ve never lived away from home before I started there last September, so the prospect was a little daunting. I’m glad that I picked the uni I did, the teaching staff are excellent, I enjoy the course and I like the people I’ve met there (even if I haven’t socialised all that much). I am wondering if it was such a good idea staying close to home though.

In a way it feels like I’m “cheating” somehow by being able to come home at the weekend. One of my online friends who also has SA went all the way from the south coast of England where she lived, to university in north Wales. I often feel kind of guilty when I talk to her because I’m only a part timer really. Of course I could just stay at my flat all the time but I think I’d go mad. Over the past couple of months I haven’t been eating properly at uni, I’m always too tempted to give into the anxiety and just stay inside my room, spending far too much on sandwiches in town instead of making my own lunches.

The thing that’s been bothering me lately is how annoyed I get with my parents when I’m at home. I haven’t written too much about my family, I get on well with them overall. We don’t have arguments, shout at each other or anything like that, but maybe having some independence from them has made me realise how much my parents can get on my nerves. My sister is hardly here now since she works a lot and stays at her boyfriends house. I miss her a lot but realise she has her own life. My mum is insanely protective of me, I don’t think she wanted me to leave in the first place and she hates being proved wrong. Just lately she seems intent on trying to assert her authority over me and especially my sister. I’m not one to talk back and argue but my sister always does, consequently they argue a lot. My mum is very critical of her and always making sly remarks, something which she seems to be doing to me more than usual. Today she asked me “How are things with the mad people?” I was quite taken aback because I thought she was insulting me about my mental health problems, but when I asked what she meant, she was referring to my flatmates.

My dad is an extreme pessimist, he’s constantly moping around and is never happy unless he’s with his girlfriend or at church. If I try to talk to him about anything he barely bothers to pretend he’s listening, often just starting to talk over the top of me. I don’t know if he is more deaf than I thought or just plain ignorant. Despite this, if I don’t act like I’m utterly captivated when he talks to me about things I have little interest in, he acts like I’ve slapped him in the face. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t a nasty person, he just doesn’t seem to want anything to do with us any more. Whenever he mentions anything to do with my mum, he doesn’t call her by her name, he just says “your mother”.

I spent so long in this house over the last 2 years, I barely left it for a long period of time and I think I’ve had enough of it for now. I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere. At home I’m still treated like a child, I don’t have any privacy and I can’t really get anywhere interesting from here without getting the bus. At university I’m the odd one out, the only one who doesn’t like getting drunk as cheaply, quickly and frequently as possible. It seems like I’ll never fit in anywhere, admittedly I am a strange person so that should probably be expected but it still doesn’t make it any less depressing.