Going Back to the Doctor

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I can’t remember when the last time I made an appointment with my doctor was, it has been years since I went to the GP here where I live. When I was at university I got tired of messing around with the psychiatrist and couldn’t stand dealing with the unhelpful person they used to send to see me (presumably to make sure I wasn’t about to hurt myself) and so worked my usual avoidance magic until I was free of them. The medication I used to take was on a repeat prescription so I managed to get that for a few months without making a doctor’s appointment and I’d stopped taking it by the time came for it to be reviewed. The GP I used to see there had left and after all the different medical staff I’ve had to try and explain my situation to over the years I didn’t fancy going through all of that again with someone else. At any rate, I felt I could get on without the antidepressants by that point and I managed reasonably well.

Lately I have felt like I really need to talk to someone again though. I think I would benefit from being back on the sertraline too, I just hope that it works again, it took a lot of tries to find an antidepressant that made a difference without awful side effects. I don’t want to repeat myself, but I am practically in the exact situation I was in back in 2008 yet again, only this time I am 5 years older and don’t have the chance to escape to university.

It’s been months and I just can’t get myself to overcome the obstacles in the way though. It might seem like I should just make an appointment and go, but it isn’t that simple. I will try to explain what’s stopping me. I realise this will sound crazy but it’s just how my mind works.

  • I will have to let my mum know because she’ll want to know where I’m going and I don’t want her to worry about me. She seems to think I am over the depression but in reality it’s just a lot easier to hide when I don’t have the stresses of uni work or a job but that has to change at some point. If I start working I know I won’t be able to cope alone.
  • Having to explain everything to yet another new GP is very difficult for me to do.
  • I don’t even know if I’m still registered at the doctor’s surgery here. I didn’t tell them I’d registered at the one where I went to university.
  • Making the actual appointment itself. This may seem trivial but using the phone is still something I go to any lengths to avoid. I don’t know if I can do it.
  • Money is very tight and because I’m not on jobseekers allowance (for a multitude of reasons that I have gone into before) I would have to pay for the prescription which I can’t really afford.

I might try and talk to my mum about it but I keep remembering how much she used to get upset about it all before. I don’t think she wants to think of me as someone who needs mental health help. Also considering how much she blames my suicide attempt entirely on the paroxetine I used to take despite me being suicidal for years previously, I don’t think she’s too keen on me taking any sort of antidepressant.

Making No Progress

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Following on a bit from my last post, and paraphrasing Oscar Wilde a bit, the only thing more depressing to me than going back to old places like the social anxiety forums and seeing people stuck in ruts for years is seeing people who you used to know and relate to have moved on and aren’t like you any more. I know this is a selfish sentiment and I feel bad even admitting that in public but it’s probably not too uncommon for people to feel that way. I am quite a jealous person, I suppose.

Recently I was talking to my mum about some people we used to know from my old primary school (she used to work there) and it brought some bad memories back. I know how ridiculous it is to obsess and ruminate over things that happened so long ago but from a young age when I was practically forced to make friends with those people up until I dropped out of university when I was 19, these were the only people outside my family I spent any real length of time with. Since then I have never formed any kind of long lasting connection with anyone who I see on a regular basis. These people were around for my formative years and as I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my many previous posts on the subject knows, contributed enormously to the mess I made of my life and why I hate myself so much.

I keep thinking about how different everyone’s life is now from back then, yet I am still largely in the same situation. I live in the same place, have the same bedroom, have little life experience to show for the 10 years since I last spoke to them. I feel terrified that one day I might run into someone who knew me before my decade of virtual isolation and have to try and explain away why I am such a failure. My life is a prime example of how not to do things. It’s difficult to explain how I have ended up like this to any normal person, I think most people would struggle to understand how anyone could end up like this but given enough crippling self loathing and fear it is possible.

Since my last birthday in January I have been preoccupied with getting older and how little I’ve accomplished. When I started writing the stuff that formed the early entries on this blog in 2007 I was young enough that a lot of things could be sort of written off, like there was still a lot of time for me to fix things and get on with having an actual life. Getting closer to 30 (it actually pained me to write that because putting it into words really hammers home the reality of it) I no longer have that excuse of youth to hide behind. Every single passing day brings me further and further away from normality. [this is an aside, but I have this awful habit of obsessing over time in a weird way. When I would have time off, from work or school for example, I would always be dreading going back and I’d think things to myself like “I still have 3 more days where I can not have to worry about not being able to sleep that night” and stupid things like that. It’s hard to put into words.] I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when I actually am 30, I am abnormally preoccupied with this because in addition to all the usual things people worry about crossing a milestone age, I have the fact that I still only posses the life experience and ability to deal with things as a child, not even the average teenager. Unless something dramatic happens in the next 2 years (unlikely) then I honestly can’t see myself living to experience it. I don’t want to alarm people but I think if I am still like this at age 30 then I will have given things long enough to not feel bad for giving up on life.

I can’t pretend I am a good enough person not to feel anger at the people who first made me despise myself so thoroughly and forced me to withdraw from society. The first counsellor I used to see would ask me if I felt angry, and back then I didn’t really. Nowadays I do feel a lot of resentment towards them.

For many years, the majority of my life so far, I 100% believed that everyone would have the same attitude towards me. That they would at best see me as a figure of fun and someone to quietly mock. At worst, I feared being hated like some people back then used to hate me. This kind of mental beating that went on from when I was 11 ground down any self esteem I had (and believe it or not, I was quite happy up to that point) and I have never recovered or had any reason to like myself since.

It is only in the past few years that I have found anyone who didn’t regard me with such negativity. Sadly I don’t live near any of them but even if I did, it is probably only my limited contact with them that stopped them from becoming bored or tired of my horrendous self doubt and sadness. I already drove away most of the people I used to speak online with.

Even this small glimmer of acceptance makes me sad though. I keep wondering what my life might have been like if instead of being surrounded by people who always wanted to put me down and make me feel worthless, I had been around some of the people who don’t hate me. Maybe I would have some friends in real life? Perhaps if I didn’t take every opportunity to shut myself off and hide away I could have developed some confidence and not be completely unable to cope in the work place. I’m not a stupid person but any intelligence or skills I have are going completely to waste. It is incredibly depressing to think about the potential I have wasted over the years.

There is no real purpose to this post, I am trying to verbalise the thoughts that have been swimming around my head so much but it is difficult. It’s like there are certain ways that people learn how to act and how to cope with life that I have completely missed out on because of how much I screwed everything up and it’s already too late to ever catch up. I felt this right from when I started this blog but it is slipping further and further away and at a seemingly quicker pace than ever. I really need to start getting help again.

Update coming soon

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The last few weeks have been very hectic, what with moving back from university and before that exams and finishing my dissertation. I’m going to write a proper entry later on but thought I’d let people know I’m still here.

In the mean time, this is from a book called Person by Sam Pink which I felt sums up the way I feel about things most of the time:

My history is the history of things imagined and not-happened.

Finishing University

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Again I must apologise for leaving such a long gap between updates. The past month or so has been one of the busiest of my academic life. I’ve had a robotics project to develop and demonstrate, software engineering assignment and my final project/dissertation to complete. I haven’t managed my time perfectly, but it has been a vast improvement on last year when I only managed to get one assignment done (and had to ask for an extension for it) before messing up completely which resulted in me having to repeat the year. I’ve managed to get everything in on time this year without any extensions, so that’s something to be pleased about.

My dissertation ended up being around 17,000 words, which isn’t as much as a lot of students but I had to develop and document a piece of software too which involves a lot of technical diagrams and I spent many hours each day over the past few weeks to make sure I got everything done. It wasn’t perfect and there was a lot more I would like to have added but I think it’s fairly good. My tentative goal is to get a 2:1 (the second highest grade) for my degree overall, although I wouldn’t be devastated if I didn’t get that. To be completely honest, it’s been other factors like my mental health and personal problems that have hampered my progress more than anything but I’ve tried really hard to stay on track this year. I’m sure those of you reading this who went to college/university know what a massive undertaking it is and I was completely mentally drained by the time I had to hand it in and demonstrate my software last week. One of my classmates actually got RSI while writing his, so maybe I got off lightly.

It seems very strange to be coming to the end of my university life. I just checked back on the post I wrote when I first started here and I can’t believe how quickly that time has gone. Despite the massive problems I’ve had, especially the obvious one, I’ve enjoyed being here and it’s been a great experience. I’ll be proud of myself for the first time in a long, long time if I manage to pass and get my degree (which, barring any catastrophes, I should do). It’s a weird time and I’m not sure how I feel about it but for once I’m not depressed or anxious about the near future.

The second part of this post is to thank everyone who voted for me in the About.com poll. I didn’t stand much of a chance against the excellent Social Anxiety UK site, which I used many times myself but I did get a Reader’s Choice finalist award, so thank you all for that. You can see the other winners here.

Finally, an update.

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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.

A Quarter of a Century of Disappointment

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This Sunday will be my birthday, I’ll be 25. I think that even though I had low expectations, if you showed my younger self what I’d be like at age 25 it would come as a huge disappointment.

I seem to have missed out that part in life where you are supposed to “grow up”. I know people will inevitably tell me that 25 isn’t old etc etc but by this age you should have at least moved on from a simple chilidish emotional state of being. I still have the exact same feelings now as I did when I was 5 years old, the terror I felt when going to school and being forced to be around other children, the isolation and desperate longing to get away from it all. In many ways I haven’t moved on at all since then.

Apparently most people go through some kind of the stereotypical rebellion as teenagers, wanting independence and all that. I never felt that way; most likely because I’ve never had any friends with who I wanted to stay out late or go into town with or whatever. I never went to any parties or even hung out with people outside of school. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to be with the people who made my life such hell for 7 hours a day any longer than was strictly necessary.

It is this lack of any social development that has led me to be in the sorry state I am now. Afraid to leave my room unless I am sure there is no-one outside my door and I have to pretend to be happy, or at least not utterly miserable, a challenge which becomes greater every day. No matter how good their intentions, there are only a few people who I actually like to see and spend time with and this is only because they are either related to me and so have always known me or I have met because they suffer from similar problems.

Just lately I feel as though I have been moving backwards. I live with 2 other people at my uni house and I haven’t said more than 2 sentences to them over the past month that I have been in that house. I consciously avoid them more than ever, more than I did last year when we were even less familiar with each other. The thing that bothers me most is how physically scared I feel whenever I hear one of their boyfriends in the house. I don’t know whether this stems from some sort of jealousy, he is almost the exact opposite of me in every way from what I can tell, confident and outspoken, popular and would almost certainly find my behaviour to be completely alien. I am terrified when I hear his voice though, or him thudding up the stairs. I have confined myself to my room late into the night when I was desperate to go to the bathroom and had to be up early the following day because I was too afraid to cross the living room where they were watching TV.

I don’t know how a person as crippled by such bizarre issues will ever be able to function in the real world. One day I won’t have my mums house to retreat to every weekend. I am already living beyond my means by buying sandwiches and eating out because I am afraid to spend 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking in case I am trapped into an awkward social situation.

A perfect storm of circumstances seems to be forming. The dark winter months, a stark reminder of  how immature I am, the increasingly difficult work at university are all conspiring to make me feel overwhelmed and unable to cope any more. I missed my CBT appointment while I was off over Christmas and he left a voicemail on my mobile which I haven’t yet dared to check and won’t dare to call back anyway. I don’t know what else I can do, nobody can help. I can’t expect to be bailed out all the time and I just cannot cope on my own, I am simply not good enough.

I feel sorry for my parents. Live or die, they are still stuck with a pathetic loser of a son. I can’t help but feel that a tragic loss for them would be better than a continuing disappointment for the rest of time.