Influence from the past

Its hardly a coincidence that many people with stable lives and positive mindsets had stable and good upbringings and that so many people who are screwed up had bad upbringings. A good proportion of our prison systems and homeless populations have mentally ill people in them. So how much of what we have become and our lives is a choice and within our own grasp and how much is beyond our control? We like to believe that it all is as that gives us control. I am not so  sure any-more. My grandmother had problems and so did my mother and most of my uncles and aunties on that side of the family. My own brother and sister have anxiety and so do some of our cousins.

Some people will say that this is just an excuse to pass the blame and evade personal responsibility.  However my anxiety, depression and negativity is a mirror image of my mothers so this was all passed on through either genetics or learned behaviour probably both. A fear of impending doom and thinking the worst has been there since childhood and has never left. Having a happy stable upbringing would have almost certainly resulted in a different personality and greater chance of success and contentment.

So you are put here with these problems and if you cant solve them and become successful yourself then you are blamed as if its entirely your own fault when most people who succeed never had to go though them in the first place. Of course I am the only one who can now do anything about this but I did not know about SA until I was in my thirties,most things did not work and there is not much help available on the NHS anyway so people demanding you get help and that will definitely cure you are completely deluded.

Even going to the supermarket makes me feel jumpy now. Today the cashier actually said something and laughed. I had no idea what she was on about and no witty banter appeared in my head so I just so Oh and tried to smile. I probably looked a twat. You see just demanding you say witty banter at strangers does snot work if you are a feeling bad, that is why so much advice for social anxiety is absolute shit and does not work as if you are a nervous and on edge to begin with then all normal conversation goes out of the window even if someone speaks to me first. Forcing yourself to speak and when nervous or anxious nearly always results in failure and greater anxiety.

How Will You Go?

Escape is on your mind again
Escape to a far away land
At times it seems there is no end
To long hard nights of drinking

How Will You Go? Crowded House

I think the overwhelming sadness is one of the harder things to cope with. Its always been there since I was a little boy. The not fitting in or feeling normal, the family always being a bit strange and the underlying tension, the complete lack of security as if always standing on a cliff edge and feeling like at any time I would be pushed over. This started at school which I absolutely hated and never really stopped.

Then people say its your fault for not trying hard enough, heaping yet more guilt on a mind racked with self doubt for decades when of course most people dont even have to try that hard because these things are supposed to be normal and available to everyone. You didn’t ask to be this way but if you dont do everything they say to be normal its still all your own fault.

Sometimes I want to lie down and cry and yet no one else must know as they dont really understand and most dont care anyway.  Self pity is reviled from society especially from people who think its all your own fault as you did not work as hard as them. In fact people who have supposedly recovered are often the most critical of all as they were hard on themselves to succeed and so think that gives them the right to be just as hard on you too. It doesn’t, they’re simply selfish ass-holes.  All the hopes and dreams you had for yourself are pretty much gone forever now. You mourn for what you could/should of had, that one love you always wanted, the family life and children that would have been yours but for a minor alteration in the wiring of your brain. All those fantasies you had in your head of what you wanted your life to become that stayed just fantasies.

I dont much care now if its all over. I keep finding myself saying  I want to go quite often as its all becoming tiresome and boring.  I dont see much hope for the future and absolutely no self help site, book or person has shown me any whatsoever. In fact for many people optimism seems to be no more than a delusional fantasy base don making things up that they like the sound of. The more I look for hope the more depressed I become as quite simply if you’re mental,weird or different its hard to fit in to normal society as they dont want you. If there is some kind of afterlife or not who cares. Existence in misery is no kind of life at all. The hope of youth, that it would all change and come good one day like the end of a story has vanished long ago. The only thing I have learnt from life is the unfairness and random nature of it.  Some of the worst of mankind have everything while so many good people have nothing.

Social Anxiety AND Depression is WORSE!

I saw this sparrowhawk out of my bedroom window this morning. It made me feel better for a while. I will try and force myself out to some kind of festival in town later. To be honest being alone in the midst of many strangers often makes me feel worse but its better than staying at home.

I know I have spoken about this before but it still makes me FURIOUS! I still cant quite comprehend the advice and treatment plan which accompanies anxiety WITH depression despite them being so common together. This is quite often even from people who suffered from anxiety themselves. Despite some ignorance in the general population I think lots of people now can at least grasp some concept of depression and the hopelessness that entails, of becoming isolated and not wanting to get out of bed, of wanting it all to end in any way possible. People are encouraged to try to take exercise, do things they used to enjoy and try to integrate back into life again.

Yet when you accompany depression with social anxiety its a little different. As the anxiety is often the root cause of depression they think this has to be cured first.  SO they tell you to go out, to talk to strangers to socialise to improve your anxiety. “DO ANYTHING!” All CBT for social anxiety revolves around exposure which is to simply force yourself into a variety of ever more difficult social situations and to do this they demand you smile, make witty banter, approach and talk to everyone. WHICH is absolutely impossible when feeling depressed. If you try you come across as a miserable bastard and fail which makes you feel even worse! My depression is also accompanied by intense irritability, rage and paranoia. When things go bad I become very upset and either want to get drunk and self harm or attack. So I can’t just learn by my mistakes and carry on regardless. A therapist just telling me to just think differently once a week after all these years will not work.

Because of the depression even leaving the house has become hard. As you may well already have a suicide plan in the back of your mind as you are already at the hopeless stage then there is absolutely no motivation.  There are other problems like trying to find work after long term unemployment when you know full well if you were 100% normal tomorrow it would still be an enormous struggle to get anyone to employ you after many years of doing nothing in a world that treats such people as simply lazy or wasters. I have no children or partner to motivate me to stay on and I am too old to have a family life now anyway so I have no rosy future but more like a desperate struggle for survival into old age.

To make things more complicated therapy for depression alone may not work as it cant re-engage me with a more productive life as I never went anywhere or did anything before I had depression due to my social anxiety.  I never had friends or family or socialised for years before depression hit. Many people cant grasp all these factors and then just get angry at you, say you are just making excuses and that some people just cant be helped. Maybe I cant and there is no way out now so demanding that there is lots of help available and that your condition is highly treatable is a complete lie. Giving me false hope has angered me even more.

They also say you will think differently when you start therapy and yet the anxiety forums are full of people saying that CBT was absolutely useless and their therapist was not a nice or sympathetic person but abusive or a bully.

How to lose friends and alienate people.

Almost all advice I read suggests starting off by making small talk to strangers to get over social anxiety. If you are a hermit just go out and talk to people on the street, in shops, in elevators (we don’t have many elevators in this city) at bus stops, just anywhere.  You will get better and better at it and before long it will become second nature .It makes no allowance for depression and being  suicidal, for being older and whether  it’s normal to speak to people of different ages or sexes, for being paranoid and for being socially inept including physical manifestations like blushing, stammering, mind freezing and acting awkward. It makes no allowance for things going badly and keep going badly or for other people being aggressive or nasty back to you. Why on earth do they assume it will just keep getting better? Success breeds confidence, not repeated failure.

You see I thought therapy tried to cure you of all this crap first so that you could go into social situations more confidently when it appears to want you to force yourself into social situations over and over again straight away and work it all out yourself as you go along.

I dont see it possible for me to do therapy as I can’t find any starting ground to begin with. if even the supposedly simple things cause overwhelming anxiety then what the F**k do you do? Drink heavily? If I tried to go round my city tomorrow making small talk to strangers I would be shit. I am miserable, have poor body language, a shit voice and  massive paranoia and apart from the weather which I find a pathetic subject  and exceptionally corny I have no small talk subjects I feel comfortable with whatsoever. As I am well over 40 I would feel uncomfortable speaking to younger women in case I appear creepy and women in general in case they thought I was coming on to them.  I can almost guarantee being ignored or looks of total disdain. If somebody says yes it is crap weather then that is the end of the conversation and awkwardness ensures. I don’t have 50 follow up lines at the ready.  This massively increases feelings of being disliked and a freak and then makes me more avoidant.

What f**king planet do therapists come from when they assume socially inept hermits go round making witty banter to strangers and do great and that failure does not affect them. Absolutely none of the books explain the basics of small talk in detail, they basically just say do it and assume you know it all. Going to a party or meet, you act weird(shy then), you have shit small talk, people avoid you. Staying in a stressful situation for 90 minutes until the anxiety subsides is not really possible without looking a twat and does not actually help you talk to people or make conversation. Do you hang a sign around your neck? Nervous anxious person. Do not disturb for 90 minutes!”

Even more importantly most strangers don’t talk to each other at bus stops or say hello to other strangers on the street anyway. When I was younger and at my worst even when occasionally somebody spoke to me first I could barely think of an intelligent response so no witty banter or conversation happened. I often felt awkward which just made others awkward and then they never spoke to me again. I even get paranoid thinking that if I did it regularly as advised then the same people would see me again and think , “Christ its that weird nutter who speaks total shit about the weather ! Look the other way!” because people hate awkward strange loners and that’s why you stay an awkward strange loner as you are always on the outside looking in.

A whole load of social skills need to be learnt before you even start to make regular small talk with strangers and even then you still need to be motivated and enthusiastic to force yourself to go into situations repeatedly. Its pretty hard to fake confidence though and that is vital to start with. And of course if you have no family, no job and never leave the house your range of subjects and interest to other people is going to be limited anyway.

The Deserving Mad?

“As in the past, modern governments differentiate between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor. The ‘deserving’ are those in need who are unable to work because they are too old, disabled, or too sick. The ‘undeserving’ are people who don’t want to work and often it is assumed that all able-bodied unemployed people fit into that category. 

 It was necessary to ensure that  ‘welfare’ kept the unemployed in a poorer and more miserable state than the lowliest worker in order to ensure that there remained an incentive to work at even the worst of jobs.With regard to the other class, the unemployable, the wastrel and the loafer, the sternest measures are necessary.”

In lots of  ways little has changed in attitude. Many still think that anyone fit in body is simply lazy or maybe an addict of some kind and deserves to suffer. The current UK Conservative government have made it much harder to claim disability and the numbers of homeless are rising rapidly. I read in a newspaper several years ago from one Conservative MP who said the unemployed needed to be starved to encourage them to work. Another person said that if Stephen Hawking( almost completely paralysed and in a wheelchair) can work then anyone could!  Hmm I dont think he could work in a warehouse or picking fruit though.

This is very relevant to mental health. The Tories thought that there were far to many mad people claiming benefits in the UK and therefore decided to cut disability payments, make it much harder for new claimants and try to push lots of extremely mentally ill people back into work even though many have actually committed suicide as a result.  Of course they did nothing to encourage companies to hire them.  There is a supposed cure for anxiety and depression and that is CBT which is pushed all the time. Apparently it has a high success rate but does not look as good under closer scrutiny. Somebody I know wrote this the other day which I totally agree with . “The worst of it is how the media and government jump on the whole CBT thing to get people off of benefits. You don’t deserve to have benefits when there is a cure and if you are ill in that way it becomes your own fault because you haven’t tried hard enough. “

In reality 1/4 of people cant handle CBT as its too hard so drop out. After all you are supposed to just make a hierarchy list of all your worst and most avoided fears and then just do them which can go disastrously wrong if not done slowly and correctly. Often the treatment is shortened from about 12 -20 sessions to just 6 to save money and sometimes NHS therapist are simply not very good. “I have seen GP surgeries offer CBT, when I talked to the Clinic Nurse/ “CBT Therapist”, she had only been on a one-week course, so could describe herself as “CBT Trained”  A one week course is hardly the same as a trained therapist. I have probably learned more from online books. Perhaps I should set up a therapy business and it also stops me being unemployed! Hooray!

Patients with sometimes acute mental illness are forced into something they cant handle and blamed for not trying hard enough when it fails. Then the government can claim they deserve to have their benefits taken away. What wankers!

And then does CBT even have great success in the long term?

“In the short-term, 40 per cent of those who complete a course of CBT, typically five to 20 sessions of up to an hour, are said to have recovered.

But ‘extensive evidence’ shows that two years on, depressed or anxious people who had CBT were no more likely to have recovered than those who had no treatment, said Mr James.”

So it might be all for nothing anyway.

 

Want to Travel Abroad? Not if you’re shy.

That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream

I have never been abroad which is highly unusual for someone in the UK. My parents were obviously crackers and never took us many places when I was young although we did go on holiday on the East coast when I was in my teens for several years. But Skegness is hardly the same as the Caribbean. In fact I seldom left my own county apart from the yearly school day trips. I also never learnt to drive due to anxiety and so only really started travelling in the UK more when I got made redundant.  I quite enjoyed it although anyone travelling on UK trains and buses can understand the expense and the often crappy service. Even so I could rarely travel further than the Midlands due to the time constrictions and arranging to get back in the same day. I remember going to Wales via 3 trains once just so I could say I had left England once in my life.  I went once again on a coach trip with a family member but am unlikely now to ever get to anywhere more exciting.

I would have loved to have visited iconic places like Rome, Paris and America at least once in my lifetime if only for the photography opportunities. There are some locations that have always seemed magical since seeing them on TV as a child. Yosemite and Yellowstone in the US are two such places and also have amazing wildlife. Even though unlikely it would still have been an ultimate dream of mine to travel one day. Something to dream of and motivate me if ever I managed to make a recovery and attain anything like a normal life.

However even if I wanted to apply for a passport now in the UK its basically illegal for me to attain one as very shy  or socially anxious people are not allowed out the country. Yes, its almost impossible for someone with extreme social anxiety to get a passport even if they wanted to one day travel aboard and chase their dreams. Thats because you must have someone countersign your application.  These people must have known you for two or more years and they must also have a professional occupation. Oh they even said it cant be your own doctor any more although I think they used to allow this.

As I speak to no one for months and have virtually no other human contact its completely impossible. I have never even known people with professional level jobs in my life.  Therefore the only way I could legally travel abroad is to find and deliberately befriend someone in a professional level job and then keep in contact with them for over two years before I could even apply, that’s if even if they agree to sign it. How the F**K does everyone else find it so easy to get a passport? Surely there must be some kind of scam going on. I am not sure if its just as hard to get a driving license as well but looking on their website it says you need a passport as proof or you then also need a signatory who knows you well so it would also be impossible for me to learn to drive even if I wanted to. Its strange how even the most simple and basis things  are made impossible by anxiety yet are completely dismissed as excuses or irrelevant. As said before once on the bottom rung of life society keeps you there and does not allow you to recover. After all we dont want mental people going abroad or learning to drive! We already have enough of them in the house of commons!

Harassment or Normal Behaviour?

So when does normal small talk become harassment? You see almost every single self help site or book says you should speak to people at every opportunity and if you are a single man, women. Speak to them at bus stops, in the supermarket, in elevators and indeed anywhere you see them so you get used to it. Smile at all women, say hi to all women. Literary, this is what it says in a book I read today. No matter what age they are. Still seems a bit awkward to me if you are old enough to be their dad but then I have no concept for normal human behaviour at all anyway.

You see sometimes I would feel more like a dirty old man or when younger a pervert, if shy, a creepy weirdo and if so then all talking advice for shy men is completely pointless. A lot of small talk makes you look like you are only after sex, like one of those  gift of the gab men I used to know at work who seemed to go into some sort of trance like state whenever an attractive women walked in the same room and immediately started witty banter. They would blow their car horn if they passed a girl outside work and offer to give them a lift. So when does normal friendly chat become something more?  Or is it just my paranoid mind thinking the worst and most women expect men to talk to them in every circumstance even at the freezer section in Tesco. I think it would be really F**King annoying if you were a women and had men pestering you all the time but then all men are told to do this as we know women never make the first move and if we dont we will die a virgin. So men have to approach women all the time. However if we are shit at it or if we do it badly as in shy and awkwardly we are called creepy and weirdos.

The prettiest girls at work never spoke first. I used to wonder if it was simply they were used to so much male attention and men initialising conversation that it was just normal to them and they could not comprehend quiet men like me and then thought them weird. I once remember a girl asking me the time at the bus stop outside work and as I was with another guy I knew from work he seemed to think later she liked me and was trying to start conversation and was almost angry at me that I gave her a one sentence answer as if I had let a golden chance slip. Its ridiculous as all she did was ask me the time but to this other guy she may as well of asked me out.

But that was unusual. You see in all the walks and things I have done over many years and working for all those years women barely spoke first ever. Once again I think  this is just normal human behaviour and that women have to be far more cautious as men are sometimes seen as dangerous especially when out and about. However at bus stops, cash machines, shops  and certainly at work for 20 years women barely ever initiated conversation with me but often still thought me weird for being so quiet. Even working in an office at a desk quite near to me. One girl would not even ask me for help because she said I was quiet and this made her feel awkward. And there you have it in a nutshell really. Shy awkward men make women feel nervous and on edge in case they are nutters. Weird loner syndrome.

 

Hard to Believe in Anything at All

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Getting hard to breathe, It’s getting so hard to believe
To believe in anything at all, but FEAR

Peter Gabriel , Mother of Violence.

 

I had wanted to phone the doctor today and make an appointment about my madness. But of course I didn’t.  Even that requires motivation, optimism, the belief that there is possibly a way out of this pain, some kind of escape. I think its after yesterday reading through some online books on social anxiety again and thinking all the advice to be totally  preposterous and in no way any help to me at all. Social anxiety websites and books all convince me that there is absolutely no help or way out whatsoever and that death is a certainty. I then think about all this mixed up shit until the early hours, have difficulty sleeping and have stressful dreams. And this is before I even do therapy. F**k relaxation exercises and mindfulness.  You may as well tell someone who is going to be burned alive at the stake tomorrow to try and relax.

As a result I felt jumpy and irritable well into the afternoon. I went to the supermarket later on and although the tills were empty I deliberately went to the self service just so I would not have to talk to a stranger or have any interaction at all. The idea of exposure therapy and that i should force myself to approach cashiers or shop staff ,smile and make pleasant conversation about the weather is so absurd it has started to make me think therapist are actually insane themselves. An awkward man just irritates people so they show you contempt or irritation and that makes you feel worse. God knows why they think that things always go better than you imagine.Every failure makes me want to self harm or die. I have absolutely no conviction anyway as all this shit is forced and completely insincere with no belief.

As a result I am actually starting to drink even more and punch myself in the head again, because I looked for help. I am also getting pains in the chest and shortness of breathe which I have never had before. I dont believe that social anxiety is highly treatable at all with CBT as it requires blind obedience. It also only seems to work on  people who are already highly motivated and not depressed and tries to shame or guilt trip you into action thus making self harm more likely for those that cant do it. Even this may not last in the long term according to research.

 

Sunshine on a Rainy day

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I used to like photography. It was always one of my things. Unfortunately my depression and ensuing avoidance has meant I have not gone anywhere much in the last few months. However it was the  Caribbean carnival today in town and I tried to force myself to go even though I did not really feel like leaving the house and it was also raining. I am glad I did, it wasn’t as good as other years but you can see how just keeping active has a better effect on the brain and creates a more relaxed feeling to get home after being out for a few hours.

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