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.

It’s Overdue

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Hello there. First of all I’d like to apologise for being absent for so long, I’ve been a Bad Blogger. Around the time we last left off I was going through another period of bad depression and finding myself snowed under with work and feeling rather hopeless and suicidal again. A visit to the psychiatrist convinced me to try a different antidepressant to try and get things under control as I was really struggling. This time it was sertraline (also known as Zoloft) and things have picked up since then, at least I’m no longer plagued by constant thoughts and the need to plan suicide, even if it is still on my mind a lot. If I’m perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure that’s the way I’ll die but it doesn’t feel immediately inevitable like it did before. I was sceptical about SSRIs after my previous experiences but it seems like I might have found the one that at least takes the edge off.

Not a lot has happened in the last year to be honest. It’s been the same old thing over and over. Some plus points are that I managed to get through the group project and presentation that I had worried so much about. It was nerve wracking but I lucked out and only had to present to one lecturer, the other scary one who was meant to be there was ill. I passed the second year of my degree with a 2:2 which is considerably lower than the first year, but considering all the problems I was having it’s decent enough. Over the summer I worked at the place I was at last year and got on OK there, was quite sad to leave really. I get pretty much free reign to get on with things and it’s some experience to go on my C.V. so it’s all good.

Going into my final year, I decided to move out of the house I’d been sharing with two of my first year flatmates. It’s not that I didn’t get along with them, they are very nice, but I just felt kind of trapped in my room because some of their friends and one of their boyfriend made me feel really nervous. I didn’t like sharing a bathroom either, or sleeping in the downstairs room. This year I’m renting a flat in a block of student apartments off campus and sharing a kitchen with 4 others. I don’t really see much of them, we mostly keep to ourselves and I’ve only really had one proper conversation with one of them the whole time. The others I’ve barely spoken to at all.

Bad habits have crept back though. I have been buying takeaway food and going without meals rather than cooking because I have this fear of people thinking bad things about what I eat and I don’t like to be in the kitchen for too long. It sounds so stupid to write down but I just can’t help it.

The main problems I’ve been having lately is that I have missed so many lectures and workshops. The third year is really the most important one and I should be attending everything ideally, but anxiety has conspired to make me miss out on a lot. I had to ask for an extension on the first assignment and jump through hoops to get doctors letters and proof that it was a valid reason but I managed it. Thankfully I passed that one (although with a poor grade) but I’m afraid of what will happen with the next ones. Part of the reason I have missed so much is my utterly ridiculous sleeping pattern over the last few months of the semester. I was literally unable to sleep all night and would fall asleep mid morning or afternoon completely exhausted then wake up at night time. On one occasion I woke up at 10.30pm. I spoke my to my doctor about it but they don’t want to give me sleeping pills (for obvious reasons I suppose). Over the Christmas break I’ve managed to get back into some semblence of a routine at least. It is nice to actually see daylight for a change.

I never used to think the weather had any affect on my mood, but the last few times when my depression has been worse has been in winter. I’m not sure if the decreased amount of sun makes me feel worse but it seems possible. The point where I felt so bad that I finally managed to speak to someone about it, back in 2007, was in the winter too.

My main worries at the moment are that I am so far behind on uni work. I don’t know if I will fail some modules, it’s possible I might have to resit them in the summer in order to graduate which wouldn’t be the end of the world but I can’t repeat the year because this is the last one that the student loans company will fund for me and I don’t another £3600 I could pay out of my own pocket. I’ve been so stupid, letting my fears get the best of me and avoiding lectures because of stupid anxiety. My avoidant tendancies have stopped me from even looking at the other assignment deadlines coming up because I know I have so much to catch up on.

I’m going to try and talk to my old tutor who helped me out last time and is somewhat aware of my situation but I don’t want to seem like I’m making excuses for being lazy or something. I know they can’t make special circumstances just for me but I don’t really know what else to do.

I think I’ve probably written enough for one update but I’ll include this quiz about the last year since I wasn’t around to blog about it much. Thanks to everyone who has messaged me and wished me well. Sorry I kept to have kept you waiting, those of you who asked me to write an update.

1. Was 2010 a good year for you?

No not really.

2. What were your New Year’s Resolutions and did you keep them?

No.

3. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2010?

No.

4. Where will you be when 2010 ends?

I was in London watching Sonic Youth.

5. Who will you be with when 2010 ends?

My friend Vicky and some of her friends who I don’t know.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

To feel like there are things to look forward to, not to be overwhelmed by work.

7. Where did most of your money go?

Mostly on rent. My biggest personal purchase was a new guitar.

8. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I don’t really get excited about anything, though I was looking forward to New Year even though it was tempered by anxiety and depression once it was over.

9. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? about the same.

ii. thinner or fatter? My doctor said she thought I’d lost weight but I feel fatter.

iii. richer or poorer? Still poor.

10. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Uni work, going to lectures, staying in touch with people, getting up earlier.

11. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Procrastination, succumbing to anxiety, avoiding things.

12. How will you be spending Christmas?

I went home to be with my mum and occasionally dad and sister when they weren’t working. It was fairly pleasant.

13. How many one-night stands?

None.

14. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No I don’t think so.

15. What was the best book you read?

Nineteen Eighty Four

16. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I usually listen to older music that I missed out on, so some Pavement albums I guess.

17. What did you want and get?

To not be constantly suicidal. A nice guitar. To see one of my favourite people.

18. What did you want and not get?

The ability to be excited about things and not see only disappointment in the future. Happiness, hah.

19. Favourite film of this year?

I don’t think it was a fantastic year for films. Shutter Island was good I guess.

20. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I can’t even remember, I think I might have gone out for lunch with my sister. I was 25

21. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Can’t think of one thing in particular.

22. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

“Inoffensive”.

23. What kept you sane?

Sertraline.

24. Who do you miss?

Vicky. My old flatmates, even though I could see them I don’t really have an excuse to be around any more. I think they didn’t mind me being there when I lived with them but can’t see why they’d want me around now.

25. Did you make any new friends?

No.

26. Quote a song that sums up your year:

“I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.”

27. Where were you when 2010 began?

At home.

28. Who were you with?

My mum and her boyfriend,

29. Did you fall in love in 2010?

No.

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30. If yes, with who?

n/a

31. Are you still in love with them?

n/a

32. Did you break up with anyone in 2010?

No.

33. What was your favourite month of 2010?

August.

34. What was your favourite record from 2010?

Interpol’s self titled album.

35. How many concerts did you see in 2010?

Two.

36. Did you have a favourite concert in 2010?

Sonic Youth.

37. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2010?

No, I hardly ever drink. I have enough vices as it is.

40. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2010?

Can’t pick a single moment.

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?

Work harder and attend more at uni.

42. What are your plans for 2011?

Try to get back on track and pass my degree. Keep practicing playing the guitar. Hopefully travel somewhere interesting.

Letter to my therapist

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I can never answer honestly when he asks “How are you?” and I assume this is one of the rare occasions where an honest answer would actually be appreciated so I finally decided to write something down. I am tired and can’t really think of everything I want to say but I think this captures the essence of it. It should be a fun hour tomorrow 😦

I feel very depressed every day. I don’t look forward to anything, it seems like there is always something to dread about the future, I’m always worrying about something that’s coming up. Life seems pointless, I can’t even do the most basic things like be in the same room as people. I’m scared of being around most people but I don’t know why. I haven’t made a proper meal at my house for the last two weeks, I’m too afraid that I will be trapped in the kitchen when there are people there and I don’t know what to say or how to act and I’m scared of them thinking I’m weird and saying things about me. It makes me feel even more worthless.

I can’t stop thinking about how I want to die. There is no other reason I can think of other than guilt about causing my family pain why I want to live. It occupies my mind for hours each day, I feel terribly guilty that I feel this way but I wish that I had died when I tried to kill myself.

Losing Control

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The past few weeks have been pretty unbearable, I haven’t been able to summon the energy even to complain on this blog. I’ve been feeling completely trapped and hopeless, several times a day I’ve been on the edge of breaking down into tears for reasons that I can’t easily explain.

One thing that’s been causing me considerable anxiety and fear is the group project I’m going to have to do at university which involves me working with randomly chosen people on a project that will last most of the year. The lecturers are making this out to be the most important thing ever, and with each dire warning they give about the importance of communication etc I only become more and more hopeless of being able to cope.

I’m terrified that one day I will break down in class and not be able to continue. I already feel so awful that I cannot face anyone, but even at my house I can’t seem to escape being disturbed by my housemates. I’ve tried explaining to one of them about my anxiety and how I get so stressed out but understandably, she obviously doesn’t realise the extent of my idiocy and how even the slightest thing puts me on edge for hours.

I’ve lost so much weight that my family have noticed and my clothes no longer fit properly, I only managed a proper dinner once last week, the other days I was unable to face the shared kitchen. I can’t stand the people who come round to our house. My housemates boyfriend, D, is now at the university and spends a lot of time at our place. He’s the exact opposite kind of person to me; confident, loud, outgoing, self assured and not afraid of offending people. The other night all of his Halls flatmates came round and woke me up after they’d been out drinking. I was so glad to be in bed away from their hideous shouting and insulting. It was a stark reminder of how much of a misfit I am and how I could never ever be accepted by people and nor do I want to spend time with people like that again. I’ve had enough of that in the past, putting up with being a metaphorical punching bag for their constant insults.

I don’t think I can cope with things, I feel like dropping off the face of the planet. There’s literally no hope for a person like me who cannot handle the easiest of lives.

I spoke to my tutor about the problems I’ve been having and he told me that it would be possible to suspend my studies for a year, but I don’t know whether I’d be able to go back after all that time off, I’m not sure I could manage it. Even more pressing is the financial situation, I only have 2 years (including this year) student support left so I’d have to pay the full amount of fees myself for the 3rd year and I’ve already signed a contract for the rent of this house which I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t receiving my student loan.

There’s nothing I can do, I’ve got to try and muddle through until I fall apart at last.

I’ve become obsessed with finding places to jump from again 😦 I read a news story about some girls who jumped from a bridge in Scotland and tried to find out  how to get to it. I don’t know if I will end up doing that, I really don’t want to take any chances being “saved” this time.

Alcohol and the worst day of my life

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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.