Mental Health Awareness Week

Its mental health awareness week in the UK. Of course I’m already quite aware how mental I am as you will know if you’ve read any of my posts.

More here: Mental Health Foundation Website

How nice of them to have it the same week as my birthday. Its like the law of attraction or someone is taking the piss. I was going to get into a drunken stupor and wallow in self pity(what’s new I hear you say?) but thankfully I am due to visit my only friend so wont be here for the rest of the week. I might still get drunk but at least I wont be alone or tempted to self harm.

When I look at all these mental health sites I have never really seen anything ever that has helped or offered any hope whatsoever. I wonder how many people they do really help. Perhaps you have to go somewhere, meet new people and already be in the state of mind to be optimistic, make friends and also not be suicidally depressed. Oh and be younger.

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‘I’m sad that I didn’t have sex until I was 37’

No, not me obviously, I’m several centuries older than 37 and never had sex.  Someone on the UK anxiety forum posted a BBC article about a man who suffered from social anxiety and did not have sex until he was 37. Its a very familiar story though.

Here is the link: BBC Story

Some interesting quotes from the article:

“If you go through your late teens and early 20s without going out with people, you don’t have the evidence that builds up and says: “Yes, people can like me because look: I’ve had that girlfriend and that girlfriend.” That allows the sense that you are unattractive to persist and to be reinforced.”

Yes feeling disliked your whole life never goes away even online and even on social anxiety forums which are only supportive and friendly to certain people so you never gain confidence.

“Most of my friends had girlfriends. I watched from the sidelines while they were starting relationships and, later, getting married. That had a corrosive effect on my self-esteem, in a drip-drip way.”

God yes, I still remember my very best friend from school telling me about his first sexual experience with a girl when he started college. It happens to others, not me. I am not normal. 30 years later its still the same. Of course society shames older virgins so you stay quiet.

“I look back now and for about 15, probably 20 years, I really wasn’t touched by a human being or held by anyone apart from immediate members of my family, like my mum, my dad and my sisters. Apart from that, any sort of physical, intimate contact was absent. So it’s not just about sex.”

This is something that is seldom spoken about with our obsession with sex, intimacy. People need and crave intimacy. I think I hugged my mum when I quit college at 16 which she did not seem to like much(Our family was not close.) but then did not hug anyone else until I made an online friend 22 years later and met her in real life.

Forget about sex or being a virgin, it was the intimate side of a relationship that I always craved. Being with someone and sharing things, going places and watching TV together.  All that. In fact I sometimes watch Youtube videos of normal people doing normal things and cry knowing that my chance has gone forever.

It might have been a defence mechanism on my part, but I developed a deep feeling that it might be wrong to approach women and that it might be an imposition on them. I was certainly never going to be that guy who “used” women.I felt women had the right to go about everyday life and enjoy a night out without having anyone approach them.

Thats almost exactly how I felt, still feel. How dare this weird creepy guy try to chat women up! F**K off! Women are always complaining about guys coming on to them and yet as 99% of them never make the first move its also the only way for a man to get a relationship, by coming on to them, well before the internet anyway. However you also have to remember even some of the  most obnoxious girls who worked in the warehouse with me still treated me with contempt for being shy so I felt rejected and a freak anyway even to girls I found repulsive.

I often became friends with women I was attracted to. I’m sure many of them were completely unaware of my romantic feelings.

Ah, a huge difference with me, I never had any female friends in 20 years at work. They were like a different sub species of human. I remember my shock when this young Asian temp girl was friendly with me and spoke to me every day.  It was so easy to talk to her because she was the friendly one doing the hard work. I thought this is what it must be like for the majority of women. They get guys approach them and start talking and make all the WITTY BANTER so its easy to answer back and this is why they are completely shocked when someone male is shy and quiet like me as they are so used to males being loud and talkative and always initiating conversation. This is probably why there are 10 times more male virgins than female.Evolution? Men and woman are not the same shock horror!

“A woman never asked me out – that would have been nice! Perhaps it was less acceptable to do so at the time.”

HA! As if! Look back at many previous posts.  Even nowadays when I checked online 93% of females in a modern American college admitted they had never made the first move on a guy. Perhaps its genetic. I would even go so far as to guess that the 7% that did probably knew him first and so trusted him. Trust is the key. Its the same for some animals. The male has to gain the females trust as he is potentially the dangerous one or the one that can get her pregnant and then leave her.

First of all I gained a little bit of confidence in myself through the counselling. Secondly I think the antidepressants might have had an impact – I think they can act as a little bit of an anti-shyness pill.

Nice to know that therapy or counseling helps some people but obviously not everyone. I wonder if he did exposure therapy. He was still in a job though so saw people daily and asked someone out and had sex at 37 for the very first time. At 40 he got married to a woman he worked with and they stayed married for the next 17 years until she passed away. Its sad after waiting all that time to lose her and be left alone again even if they did have 17 years together.

“I look back on my youth with a sense of regret. It’s almost as though I am grieving for something that didn’t take place. I feel there’s a stack of fond memories that aren’t available to me, or a set of experiences that I didn’t have.”

Now this is exactly how I feel. Its too late now to ever have the things I missed out on: This is from a previous post of mine:

“It hurts you are not one of them and never have been. The first kiss, the first date, starting a family and a new home. It never happened. You hear time and time again that you are young and these things will just happen one day. Well they didn’t and I pretty much knew they wouldn’t even when I was still at school.”

“At this age I often feel like mourning for the things I never had and yet the world we live in and society just ridicules and blames you as if you failed simply for not trying hard enough and you deserve what you get. So you stay silent and hidden. I have an ever present sadness that never goes away and overwhelms me. It must be kept in the background at all times or my real desperation and panic emerges and then death is that much closer. All this failure due to being too shy.”

Death by Shyness indeed. To those ignorant people that think that I just need to do the HARD WORK. GO F**K yourself!

 

 

YOU ARE NOT A COWARD!

This time 100 years ago it was the final year of World War one. Both my grandfathers were in the war and thankfully both survived although I have absolutely no idea what they saw or went through as things like that were seldom spoken about or passed on to other generations. It was probably bad though. Now I would no doubt have gone through the same if I had to. I would fight to the death now if I had to, if the circumstances were right. Although I would probably have to be put back in a younger body maybe.

But I wont do much if any exposure therapy. This is what so many therapists simply don’t get. Fear of being humiliated or ridiculed especially regularly is worse to me than fear of having my head blown off by a bomb. Its like some therapists think as long as you don’t experience physical pain you always get used to something and better. They’re wrong.  Its not that unusual either. Many people have killed themselves after going through public shame or ridicule from others. Now I am considerably older this only increases enormously making humiliation even greater and therapy much less likely to succeed. I certainly would not go to a support group with much younger people and speak how I really feel.

You see I wont force myself to smile awkwardly at strangers on the street and say hello. I wont force myself to approach random women at bus stops and make awkward conversation about the weather or ask cashiers at Tesco how their day has been in an awkward fashion and have them sneer or laugh at me for acting strange like people did at work.

If the whole idea of exposure therapy is you put yourself out there, find that its much better and people are much nicer than you imagined then they should come up with some situations that actually work as the above examples that I find in all the self help books obviously don’t.  That’s because you have to be friendly and NON awkward from the start or you make other people feel awkward,fail and get worse.

Now if you struggle or cant do the same things either then YOU ARE NOT A COWARD! Because fear of genuine humiliation is not a form of cowardice. And if you don’t believe this fear of humiliation is real then imagine telling people you are a still a virgin when you are over 40 at parties, at work, anywhere really and the obvious shocked reaction. Its almost as bad if you are unemployed. And you certainly don’t deserve to suffer because you have not done the HARD WORK which they often speak about as so many people who are successful are complete assholes and never feel that nervous or did any of the hard work. The idea that we all go though the same things and fears is obviously total bullshit.

We may be the only ones who can change our situation but without a support network behind us and many people with depression and anxiety have never had a partner or trustworthy friends it is that much harder to do so. Everything is harder alone. That’s why people who already had a good family or support network have no right to claim they went through the same thing and boast about the HARD WORK they did as if they are braver and better.

Even I got much better once at work before my redundancy. That’s because my mindset had changed first which made speaking to people much easier. When you are lying in the gutter trying to make daily pleasant conversation with strangers went as well as being expected to fly a fighter jet totally alone whilst being shot at by the enemy from reading some instructions for a couple of hours beforehand.

If looking up help for social anxiety actually leaves someone who is feeling desperate like suicide is the only answer then obviously lots of CBT therapy is absolutely shit and lots of therapists have no concept of what they are dealing with. Pretending that its only the depression speaking and that once that is cured then you become super motivated and willing to do exposure therapy is complete bullshit and totally deluded.

 

I could be wrong, I could be right
I could be black, I could be white
I could be right, I could be wrong
I could be white, I could be black

They put a hot wire to my head
‘Cause of the things I did and said
They made these feelings go away
A model citizen in every way
Your time has come, your second skin
Cost so high, the gain so low

 

ANGER IS AN ENERGY!
ANGER IS AN ENERGY!
ANGER IS AN ENERGY!
ANGER IS AN ENERGY!

 

 

Avoidance due to shame

This is never mentioned in all those CBT books or self help sites for social anxiety either. Part, in fact a major part of the reason to be avoidant is the shame factor. I keep thinking of the advice of just go to a meetup which is basically the only advice there is apart from talk to strangers at bus stops and in elevators etc.  Yet you have to admit to not working in years with people who are usually all working and you feel embarrassed, ashamed.  Lots of people who hate their jobs still think anyone unemployed is just lazy scum and deserve everything they get. You also have to admit not having a relationship. Hide the fact you are a 397 year old virgin, have no friends and do nothing most days.  Oh and that you are as mental as fork.  This is even ignoring the depression factor when I often feel like crying on the floor. Sometimes I do.

This is all due to the shame society heaps on anyone who is not normal. You even have to be ashamed for not driving or never having been abroad. If when they ask you do you talk about your mental health problems or make an excuse? Well that is cause for shame too! And people do ask don’t they? Almost accusingly sometimes when I was at work. Why have you not got a girlfriend? Why don’t you go out? Why have you not got a place of your own yet? Like its a crime. They might as well ask Why are you mental?

I read a story in the local paper about a homeless woman last night and it saddened me and at the same time enraged me. I don’t know of her personal story and its validity but the replies were so nasty and cruel and implied that all homeless people are just lazy wasters or on drugs. Yes, I am sure real homeless people want to sleep on pavements in temperatures below freezing and be prone to violent abuse from yobbos! One comment was from a nurse who complained how hard she had to work to support three kids. So God knows how sympathetic she would be to homeless people who needed treatment. The ignorance is staggering.

You cant just get a job with no address, clothes that are dirty and unwashed, no CV and a long gap in employment due to living on the streets so the people who just shout get a job you lazy so and so are imbeciles. That’s ignoring mental health problems which are so common with homeless people.  Yes, I am sure there are some people who beg and then go home again as they are con artists but most homeless are genuine and need help.  The cruelty of mankind is always there underneath. No doubt a few hundred years ago this woman would have been cheering people being flogged or executed for stealing a loaf of bread even if they were starving.

Homeless people who commit suicide or die on the streets are just as important as people with families and jobs like that on Coronation street although they are much easier to ignore and easier to forget. Its like lone people don’t even exist to society sometimes. Its attitudes like this that put me off going to meets as you realise the prejudice against people who are not normal is still rampant and as I have said before, once you are down in the gutter its society at large that keeps you there and stops you getting up again.  They might not say it always to your face but they think about it to themselves. Evolution, survival of the fittest. Its real and at work in our everyday lives. Its why we like some people and not others, it decides who we are attracted to and who we marry or live with and who we have as friends.  Once again this is not maladaptive thinking, its real life.

Suicide on Coronation street

There was a suicide on Coronation street last night(its the longest running soap in the UK). In an effort to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and the large number of men killing themselves the character Aidan was found dead by his father in his bathroom after a period of depression. Anything that saves lives is a good thing and makes people aware of just how serious depression can be.

However I always wonder if many doctors go “Oh no!” when TV shows have a medical story line like this as they expect an influx of people with depression into their surgeries. You see as mentioned in many other posts the British NHS is already at breaking point, the waiting lists are already very long and my city the worst in the country so unless the government releases millions of pounds then nothing is likely to improve. It would also almost put me off going to my GP as they might think its only because of the TV show.

The story-line also had another character pushed close to the edge who was contemplating suicide and then he spoke to someone and felt better. In fact they could not have been much more clear if they had put a text message across the screen. FEELING SUICIDAL, SPEAK TO SOMEONE!”

I spoke to my sister once about it. She ignored me and started saying she wanted to kill herself and then spoke about herself for 30 minutes despite having a long term partner and a well paying job. My mother before she got old dismissed my depression as nothing important and started speaking about herself and her problems. (A hereditary self obsession in the family? Stop talking about yourself , it’s all about ME!ME!ME!ME!ME!  Yes, I know you probably think that about this blog! I said its hereditary.)I spoke to a friend at work once when he asked about my strange anxiety behaviour and when I mentioned suicidal thoughts and self harm he stopped talking to me for months as it UPSET HIM.

You see lots of people who are suicidal don’t have a support network or great understanding family or friends. They have nobody to speak to at all and no way out. Speaking of suicide often upsets other people and sometimes they even accuse you of being selfish and ridicule you. That only leaves the Samaritans and they would probably just advice me to see my doctor and its back to square one and as said so times before my problems are circumstantial so the Samaritans cant cure them. Just speaking isn’t always enough.

Perhaps speaking to someone they can trust may help many people on the edge so is at least a positive move but for many, especially those on their own its of no help whatsoever. And lets face it, we only care as a society about certain people don’t we? Aidan, young, good looking with a great family and liked by all.  Do we really care as much about people who are homeless and who are suicidal as we ignore them every day on the street? Do we even care about people living on their own with no family as if their lives are somehow less valuable?  The  homeless are often seen as a nuisance even by medical staff at the hospitals yet so many people on the streets and in prisons have life long mental health problems too. In so many ways we are no more equal or fairer in society than 100 years ago.

Video on Therapy for Social Anxiety

This is someone who I have posted a video of before. Most of her videos are very good and of professional quality. They are also highly accurate as she has suffered social anxiety herself. Of course being young and attractive means she gets 500 times more views than someone who is old and ugly but never mind if it brings awareness of social anxiety into the mainstream and helps others.

This video is about therapy. She says that you might have to shop around to find the best therapist. This is a common theme and many people who claim therapy has helped a lot often had to go through several to get one that actually helped. Of course in the UK that’s a problem as if you go via the NHS then you get anyone and after a 3-6 month waiting list and also many NHS therapists are absolutely shit, almost abusive if you read the stories from people on UK anxiety forums. Someone who had a bad time with their therapist was told on going back to her GP that there is nothing else! You don’t get to pick and choose on the NHS.

If you go private you then have to pay something like £50 per session at least which is way out of the price range of many unemployed people who need it the most. In fact £50 would pay for my food budget for 3 weeks. I think she says somewhere else that she has been going to therapy for quite a while, it may be a year. On the NHS most people only get 12 sessions and some have even been cut to 6 to save money. Some are in groups and then some groups are for all anxiety problems rather than just social anxiety which is relevant as the treatment is different.  Yet many people have gone to therapy for years to get better. One year at £50 per session is over £2500 so you start to see why so many people don’t actually go to therapy or see it as an option. Private therapy becomes a rich persons option only.

And finally she talks about the fear hierarchy list that is standard practice in CBT for social anxiety where you confront your fears one at a time. The problems is I would need treatment for depression first as my motivation is non existent and I see no way out. Hope is not telling you there is a cure and then its just to confront all your worst fears daily for months or years. That takes away hope. Apart from looking for a job which is currently 100/100 for me I have and see no small easier things to practice on and would never get to the top of the list in just a few weeks anyway.  I am also beginning to realise that a lot of depression may be completely incurable as its not a chemical imbalance and is caused entirely by circumstances and anxiety which cant be cured first BECAUSE of the depression and the anxiety cant be cured first BECAUSE of the depression. Its a dilemma I have yet to see any solution to.  With the current state of the NHS I think suicides from people with mental health in the UK are only going to rise in the foreseeable future.

Feeling Blue in Bluebells

I went out for two walks in woods over the weekend as the bluebells are now out. I tried to be mindful and feel  peace and all that but its just not there. I almost started to enjoy myself on the Saturday but then lots of people started to appear and I don’t like being with lots of people especially as virtually all normals are in couples or families so I always feel the odd one out. Yesterday it was quite hot and I started to feel dizzy after a while. Of course as I also don’t drive I had to get a bus there and back and the nearest stop is about 3 miles away from the woods so I got sunburned a bit(yes even in England!)

At one point I saw another photographer coming up behind me on a narrow path so said Hi but he completely ignored me. Perhaps he has social anxiety too. However over 40 years of feeling like a freak always makes me think that its me, my weak smile, my weak voice, my awkward body language. That’s of course why CBT would not work for me as all social skills have to be adequate, not perfect as some therapists say that we imagine we must be but just adequate in order to make normal conversation with strangers. Otherwise you come across as an awkward weirdo and people dislike us.

This is pretty much identical to about 500 other outings over the last 12 years. I go out. I feel good for a while and then get bored and depressed and go home.  My mind doesn’t improve, my mood doesn’t improve. Not getting physically attacked(well apart from once) does not improve my confidence or diminish anxiety so just doing something over and over again doesn’t make me feel better. I don’t get into nice conversations just because there are other people about.  In fact i sometimes feel incredibly awkward and self conscious and paranoid and think people are ridiculing me, because in the past they have. A couple of days later I feel depressed and hopeless again. And repeat. No, just going out regularly doesn’t help.

That’s because all my problems are still there when I go home and as my depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance it always returns when I realise how bleak my future is and how little help there is.

 

Wild garlic, it smells oniony. hmm