No Progress

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(warning: suicide discussion below so don’t read if that bothers you)

I didn’t realise I had left it so long to update, time seems to pass very quickly when you don’t have a lot happening in your life. Throughout 2013 I don’t think there was a single time when I met up or spoke to anyone who could remotely be considered a friend. The last year I have slid backwards so much, it’s so disappointing compared to how relatively well I was doing in say, my last year of uni. I am practically back to 2007 levels of isolation but in a way it is a lot worse because at least back then, I know with hindsight that I had somewhere to go. I was younger and I had that opportunity of going to university as a second chance at life. I was yet to meet some of the people who, despite only making the very faintest of a connection with, at least didn’t mind spending time with me and didn’t go out of their way to make me feel worthless. Unfortunately the circumstances that led to that, being at university or talking to them online, have now evaporated and I’m back here on my own again. It is impossible, for example, that any of the people who I lived with at while I was away at uni would ever have got to know me under any other circumstances than us being randomly assigned to share a flat. The people I knew online have either moved on entirely and no longer need to talk to a disastrous loser as me or I have neglected to talk to them for so long they have forgotten about me. I don’t have anything to say anyway. My life is empty. I don’t have anywhere to go or anything of note to contribute to anything.

It is strange to look back and think about how strongly I felt my life was over and wanted to die so much during the time when I tried to kill myself. Strange because everything was immeasurably better back then. It took another 3 years, until I was in my final year of university to realise how much I actually benefitted from being there and appreciate all that I had built up over those few years from when I felt at my lowest point (before I started blogging) and now it’s all gone. There’s no way I was worse off in 2009 than I am now. I wasn’t hurting for money or unemployed, I had people who would spend time with me. I had friends online.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how I tried to die and I have very conflicted feelings about it all. I feel bad for all the trouble I caused other people but I don’t think I was unjustified in what I did. Some people might expect me to be thankful that I was unsuccessful and that I ought to be glad to be alive but I am not. Do I wish that I had died? I would have missed out on some good things but none of them really make up for the pain and disappointment that I feel having to be me. If I could choose to change things, I wish I hadn’t been found and everyone could just put me to rest and get on with their lives.

I don’t feel fully justified in using the word ‘pain’ to describe how I feel but I don’t know how else to word it. I feel more of a sense of crushing inevitability and a dull ache than serious pain. I hate being the awful, worthless person that I have become. There are few bigger examples of wasted opportunity than me.

It was my birthday in January and it was one I have not been looking forward too. I don’t think I will be able to stand reaching a milestone age next year and still being the same unaccomplished loser. I have a suspicion this year may be my last. Back in 2009 I could have been convinced that it wasn’t too late, that I could have turned things around because I had time on my side. Looking back, I can admit that I was wrong about some things because it wasn’t too late at 24 to do anything. I’m rapidly approaching passing the point where if I was to die it would be considered a tragedy and reaching the stage where people would wonder what took me so long.

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Blogroll update

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A lot of the blogs I used to read and link to have either disappeared or are no longer updated so I’ve removed them for now. I added a couple of new links but I need to find some other good new blogs. I’m sad that I can’t follow how the people whose writing I used to follow quite closely and I hope that they’re doing well.

Same Old

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Recently I checked back in on the SA forums that I used to read regularly and interact with people somewhat more than I had in other online communities where I am mostly just an observer. It’s always strange going back to places you haven’t frequented in a long time, I often feel a strange mix of familiarity sadness because a lot of things don’t change much. There are some people who have been on those forums longer than me (I registered in late 2007), are older than I am and are still stuck in life situations they hate. I don’t want to sound like I’m being down on them because I am very sympathetic to their problems and goodness knows I’ve let things hold me back a hell of a lot, but when I read their posts it’s like looking into my own future and this is what depresses me. It is the reason I stopped going there about 2 years ago. Back then I felt like I had moved on quite a bit from the person I was in 2007/8 – I had a semblance of a life. Now though, it seems as though I’ve slid back into the same old state.

The last few years were very eventful in one way or another. I reached low points for sure but I also had probably my biggest achievement in graduating from university. This was very important to me, although it may not seem like much of a triumph to a lot of people, I found it extremely hard work both academically and emotionally. My graduation ceremony itself was one of the very few times I have been proud of myself and I was happy to be there.

It has been quite a few months since then and in that time I’ve kind of slipped back into depression and withdrawal from life again. For various reasons I haven’t been able to find a job and it’s beginning to feel like I am right back where I was in 2007. There is probably too much on this blog already about how much I hated the job I mercifully had to leave in January 2007. It was genuinely the worst time in my life, I hated the people there that made me feel awful. I hated working afternoons until late at night. I hated the 1hr30 it took for me to get there. There has never been a time when I was more anxious than the months I worked there and I am constantly filled with dread when I read job listings and they remind me of that. It’s hard for most people to find a job in this economy but lots of other things are holding me back even more. Even though I have a degree now I just don’t feel confident in my abilities and I know that there are so many people more knowledgable and better equipped to deal with things than I am.

When I left the place I worked over the last couple of summers, the boss said that I could come back if I wanted to and I did get on OK there (at least compared to the previous job) but I don’t know if I could go back now. It’s been so long since I left uni and I haven’t got anything to show for the last few months, I don’t know if I could face them because I seem like such a failure. Again, I have done the same stupid thing by putting it off for so long until it becomes harder and harder to deal with. I should have known months ago that I would not get a better job and gone back then but now it has dragged on too long.

I’m going to leave it here for now but hopefully I will have another post up soon and won’t leave this site abandoned for months at a time.

End of an era

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Wow I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. I guess I haven’t been in much of a writing mood for the past couple of months, perhaps because of all the work I had to do on my dissertation kind of burned me out.

Finishing university was a big event for me. It’s taken me much longer than most people, after my first attempt ended in failure it was probably the start of my mental health beginning it’s lasting impact on my life. That was a very difficult time for me, I was pretty much still in the same place mentally as when I was at school/sixth form. Most of the same people were still around me and I didn’t feel like I could express my true self without being open to further ridicule and I felt trapped being around those people. I’ve written about this at length before so I’ll spare you the details.

The university where I completed my degree (starting 4 years after I left the first one) was in a different city and I made a clean break from the poisonous people who previously made me feel terrible. I won’t lie, it has been a difficult process. Moving away from home was a big deal for me and although I struggled, I am very glad that I did it. The entire process of studying was made even more difficult by my anxiety and depression. It’s hard to explain or expect other people to empathise with how hard it can be to deal with even basic things like making sure you have food to eat. There were many occasions when I would go without meals or sneak out and buy a sandwich or something because I daren’t go into the kitchen when other people were around or I was afraid other people might be there.

I constantly felt like I was swimming against the tide to try and stay on top of the workload especially in my final year where I had to keep regular attendance for certain workshop sessions that involved robotics equipment that I couldn’t do at home (which was my usual standby for missing workshops. I didn’t like the demonstrators or anyone nearby to see my work). This was my second attempt at the final year, remember. I already had a very lucky reprieve after I completely messed up in 2010/11 when I should have finished. There was real pressure to get things right this time and fortunately my depression, which was probably my biggest obstacle in previous years, was not as bad this time and I managed to cope reasonably well.

The problem I gave into so many times before was worrying about a workshop session (in the computer labs) and barely sleeping all night, then waking up and finding it easy to justify missing the class to myself. I’m sure this feeling will be familiar to some of you. I fell into the trap so frequently at college that I ended up only attending 2 classes all semester for one particular module as things began to snowball and my poor attendance weighed on my mind. “He’ll want to know why I wasn’t here the past 2/3/4 weeks” I would think and then rationalise missing the class again. Thankfully I managed to keep this largely in check this year and I only missed one robotics workshop and a small number of other sessions. Overall this year was probably my best attendance.

I feel very lucky that I managed to pull this off when it mattered most really. If you aren’t familiar with the British university system, a bachelor’s degree typically takes 3 years, the first year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification and it’s usually all based on how well you do in your final year by using everything you’ve learned to write a dissertation or create a project (this is a very general description). Everything pretty much rode on how well I could do this year. My second year grades were lacklustre, I scraped a lower second (2:2) so I needed to improve this time.

My final grade was an upper second (2:1) which is the 2nd highest you can get, and although it’s not spectacular I was very pleased that I managed to get here at last after all the troubles I’ve had. It’s been a challenging journey and my anxiety & depression has literally threatened my life at times. The period I spent in hospital, or rather the time recovering from what happened – I don’t remember much of when I was actually there which is quite disconcerting, was a constant struggle and mentally exhausting in itself. I worried that I had done irreparable damage not only to my brain but also to my relationship with my family. I still have issues with the latter but it is a relief that I have not destroyed my mind.

So, good news on the academic front. I hope you’ll allow me a long entry as it has been so long, but quite a lot of things have been going through my head since I last updated.

I had barely finished my last exam when I discovered that my dad had been admitted to hospital for heart problems. My mum had known a couple of days earlier but didn’t want to panic me before my exams which I am thankful for now but I was annoyed at the time. It came as a big shock to me because unlike me, my dad has always been very active and still cycled to work and back 6 miles each way into his sixties and he’s not overweight. He ended up needing an angioplasty to widen the arteries but he has recovered very well since. I went to see him in hospital the day I got back from moving all my stuff home and it was quite difficult to see him like that. He is not an emotional man, though he’s not cold either, he just doesn’t give much away but when my sister and I arrived he had tears in his eyes.

Even though it wasn’t life threatening, it is impossible not to think about death when it comes to hearts. Dealing with the realities of mortality is hard to cope with. Being back at the hospital, the smell and suffocating heat, brought back the vague memories I have of being in there, and the trips we took each day made me think about how difficult it must have been for my family to make similar trips to see me. I was hardly coherent for weeks and I dread to think what must have gone through their heads seeing me like that. It was very hard to see my dad in a vulnerable state and this was compounded by the guilt of what I put everyone through with my own actions.

Things have been relatively quiet since he got to go home (he’s been out a while now, I just didn’t want to write about it before I knew he was better) but recently I have started to feel like some of the old depressive feelings are creeping back. If anyone has been reading this blog for a long time, you’ll remember that my sense of purposelessness was one of the main catalysts for my depression back in the days before and just after my diagnosis with clinical depression and social anxiety.

Back in 2007 I was unemployed and had no real prospects. I didn’t have good enough qualifications to do anything in the computing field that wasn’t helpdesk oriented and after my utterly disastrous time doing that at my first job I had no intention of going back to that. It was the absolute worst time of my entire life, I actually felt worse then than I did when I attempted suicide strange as it may seem. Going back to university gave me a goal and arguably more important to either the pressure I put on myself or I mistakenly ascribed to my mum (I haven’t decided which it is, but it’s probably a combination) it meant I wasn’t “unemployed”. I mean, yes technically I was only working in the holidays but the rest of the time I was doing something useful. This is over now of course and I am back to the same situation.

I’m getting quite tired now, it’s gone 3.30am but I will finish this train of thought tomorrow, I promise. Thank you to anyone that’s still reading and thanks for your comments.

Getting By

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First a few site updates, for the first time since 2008 I have rewritten the “About” page to be more relevant and explain a little more about myself. I also added a Contact page in case anyone would like to write to me for some reason. I also updated my blogroll which was similarly out of date. Sadly, almost all the blogs I used to read have either been deleted or not updated for many months. I hope that those people are all OK. I left the blogs that still exist on there in case they come back.

At university things are going a little better. I have had some grades back and I’ve done quite well so far which is a relief. I finally managed to get the motivation to put some real hard work into my project and arranged a meeting with my supervisor who looked over my report and seemed quite pleased with it. He gave me some notes but I have been too anxious to read what he said yet. This is a strange quirk which I have had for a long time and can’t seem to shake off. It used to be the case that I would never post on forums because I’d be afraid to read anyone’s responses to what I’d said. Emails would go unread for weeks because of the same fear and I have the same worries about comments on this blog. I always fear that someone will have written a damning criticism of my comparatively inconsequential problems but luckily nobody has seriously hurt my feelings here so far.

It is a relief to feel that I am actually up to date with university work, a situation I am not too familiar with. Despite my best efforts, I often find myself behind on assignments or missing lectures but this semester I have only missed 2 lectures, one I overslept for and the other because of anxiety but this is a huge improvement on previous semesters.