More Snow!

Despite what some Americans think most of England only gets proper snow about once a winter and sometimes none for years so most English people get very excited and then start to panic as trains and buses are cancelled and roads become blocked! Panicking over the weather is one of our favourite hobbies going back many generations.I saw no snow at all for most of my childhood but thankfully global warming is making it colder here. This is the view out of my bedroom window today. There are lots of bushes. I would say its a wildlife haven but its really because I like to block out all the neighbours due to social anxiety and hide in corners mumbling to myself.

Its traditional for people especially students to build jaunty snowmen and then make them look silly by putting things on their head.

Sometimes they are more inventive and even have a spare carrot they can use as a nose, sometimes other ruder things if the snowman gets lucky.

This is a statue of Richard III who was buried under a car park for over 500 years. He looks very cold but he’s from up north so probably doesn’t mind.

The one in the foreground looks slightly phallic. Students like to be rude as they are young and outrageous. Older people would rather make a snow cake with a nice cup of tea.The university is nearby.

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Snow!

Snow! The first snow of winter. Not much but it cheered me up briefly(for 10 seconds anyway!) and there is more due on Sunday. We dont often get snow before Christmas in this part of England as its quite low and flat. A 3 1/2 hour walk today. I didn’t speak to anyone as I was still stressed after yesterday and in a bad hyper mood and mentalists cant be choosers can we?

 

 

O Come All Ye Faithful

I saw this quote earlier today and realised I have been thinking pretty much the same for quite some time now. Years in fact, especially when my elderly mother was dying slowly. Its not always going back to bed I crave as I wake early almost every day and can’t sleep again but I often wait all day for night to come when I can drink as I have been drinking almost every evening for some time now.  I often wake up in the night after more bad dreams and wish I would die. And no I dont want to come back again to confront my problems like some hideous nightmare as some people believe. This is how depression makes you feel and yet the self help sites are full of absolutely unbelievably shit motivational tips and quotes.  Get up early and do stuff! Yes more housework is going to make a lot of difference! See your friends! See my other 500 posts on social anxiety an lack of any friends.  My depression is not caused by chemical imbalance so cant be cured by pills. There never was a normal life to go back to.

I again look at the only meetup group in my city which I could attend which is for photography and imagine how to make small talk,having to explain being unemployed for YEARS and YEARS, not being in a relationship and never having had one even though I am over 40, having absolutely no family or friends and apart from photography having nothing to speak about at all. This is even without my awkwardness, social anxiety and depression for them to deal with so the idea of just meeting a bunch of strangers to make you feel better is complete bollocks and shows how bad the advice is.  If the advice is to avoid negative people then they would avoid me so what do you do if you are the negative one? Drink?  Such meets demand enthusiasm, friendliness and social skills to even start with and I have none. Why is there never any advice whatsoever to even get to the level of meeting people? Is it because there is none? When you are so far down mentally and physically and have no support then death is the only result, the inevitable conclusion? I have certainly seen no help for my problems by looking at CBT and therapy. Some even think exercise cures you of depression!

I think Christmas is making things worse again. Today has been awful with wave after wave of depression and misery and feelings of wanting to die. Taking a shower, going for a walk and dong some gardening or housework(the usual shit advice for depression) are about as effective as putting a small bandage on an freshly amputated leg. Little helps if you are this lonely, depressed and your life is a complete mess and has been for decades. Your personality has changed beyond recognition and as nobody wants you then you stay alone and never get better. I did not have a wife, partner, kids or family to begin with so can’t get help from them.I see the end of another year when nothing has changed in the slightest and I still see absolutely no way out or escape whatsoever other than death.  The prospect of applying for a job I could get, do and which I would not hate is as achievable as being told to chat up and marry a supermodel after being a lifelong dateless virgin.  I came close to self harming again earlier but must get past Christmas first.  All this negative shit and I have not even drunk anything yet. Better start now.

 

Not quite normal

 

I was looking at an old post the other day as it came up on on my stats page which means someone else has looked at it. It was in relevance to the re-internment of King Richard III’s bones which were discovered under a car park in my city two years ago. I wrote this;

“A nice volunteer lady was chatting to people on the day of the re interment and asked me about my camera. I tried to answer her but that oh so familiar awkwardness awakened and I almost sighed and walked off. It’s the reaction on others faces that hurts so much when they realise that you are not quite normal but they still try and be polite although at the same time try to move away. Having no control of my voice, facial expressions and body language is so frustrating. Once my anxiety comes alive it’s unstoppable and the paranoia starts to eat away at my confidence in a relentless attack of self doubt. It might as well be one of those dreams where you imagine everyone pointing and laughing at you and you just want to run away.”

This is what no self help book seems to have any comprehension of. They assume under all conditions that if you have social anxiety all you do it keep finding people to talk to and you get better. Its once again convinced me that almost all therapists and doctors have no comprehension how to cure more severe social anxiety at all, just modest shyness which they assume vanishes as soon as you do anything and that all strangers are lovely.  I also remember when the Queen came to visit and some woman actually spoke to me first and her reaction to what I said was as if I had offended her, just by acting shy or nervous. This is the reaction anxiety creates in normal people. It confuses and repels them and of course makes us more paranoid and avoidant. So just doing anything does not help.

On the rare occasions I tried to speak to someone I actually liked or wanted to get to know when at work I also got this reaction, like I was not good enough or that I was strange and they then avoided me.  I only got better when I moved to an office job by working with friendlier chatty people and copying them and by of course changing my attitude to try to not care about what others think of me so much. Mind you I still wanted to kill some of them, I still do now. I find it hard to forget and impossible to forgive. Then of course I lost my job. Now I am alone all day ad every day after my redundancy and everything has gotten much worse again but then most people’s confidence would dip after years of near total isolation and having never had a relationship. Then they(self help sites. books, people on forums) wonder why they cant bully optimism into you and say its all your own fault.

Guest Post: Depression Success Story

And now for something completely different as Monty Python used to say.  This is a guest post about depression from Mollie @ mollieplayer.com

Depression Success Story: “My Daily Recipe for Staying Mostly Depression-Free”

*/Contributor: Mollie Player, who shares depression success stories and spiritual practice success stories at mollieplayer.com. /*/
/
So, let’s be real: There’s no cure for depression. At least not one that works for everyone. Medication works a bit, and exercise helps a ton. But none of these things–even lots of meditation–won’t get you all the way.

However, in my experience, there are cures (note the plural): complex, sometimes time-consuming combinations of factors that can work together and give you relief.

Here’s my depression success story and the particular combination of coping mechanisms that work best for me.

Once upon a time, I was four years old. And even then, I was the serious girl. Nothing wrong with that–my mom called me “sensitive” and my dad said I had a “cute, worried expression.” But right before their eyes, and without any of us knowing it, I started, slowly, to withdraw. In the second grade my best friend moved away, and I had very few others as backups. I became shyer and shyer till, caught in the coming-of-age pre-junior high school years (fifth and sixth grades), I was really suffering. I hated how I looked. I had no close friends. At recess I hid in the bathroom or under the schoolyard stairs. I didn’t want anyone to see me sitting alone, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone and face rejection.

In Junior High School, I realized I had a problem. It wasn’t their fault that I was shy; it was mine. I went to a new school, made the same mistakes, and the outcome was the same, too. In the eighth grade, I hid in the bathroom every day, and though I made a few friends, they weren’t close. One day I read an article in my aspirational reading of choice–Seventeen magazine–about a girl who realized she had depression. She said that she figured it out after while riding a city bus, she burst into tears for no reason.

That’s ridiculous, I thought. I do that all the time. It sounds pretty normal to me.

But the thought sunk in, and soon after that, I realized I was depressed, too.

My first attempt at overcoming depression was a spiritual one. As a fundamentalist Christian, I knew the answer to all pain, all difficulties was faith. I also knew that I wouldn’t feel better until I got on the right path, and stayed there. If I only prayed enough, read the Bible enough – really committed to God – I would feel the love and job of knowing him. And the depression would be gone.

The plan didn’t succeed.

High school passed in perfectionistic frustration. Then college, then a few lovely years after graduation. My determined mindset helped me get rid of my shyness completely, and pursue a few other goals successfully. I got a job I love–waitressing–as well as a college degree and a house. And I started liking myself a lot more–even how I looked. I gained confidence, but my ultimate goal still eluded me–that of fully overcoming depression.

I still haven’t fully overcome it.

And yet, I have overcome a lot of it. Most of it, in fact. And I did it in two major ways. First, I dealt with the basics: I got a job, independence, a few friendships, a place to live. After that, I started refining my methods.

Here is my daily recipe for my mostly happy, sometimes joyful, and always deeply grateful state of mind.
•I exercise most days for at least forty minutes. Sometimes, I exaggerate. Like the other week when I told my friend exercise is a cure for depression. It’s not. And yet, it sort of is. Because without my long walks, I’m not sure I’d be able to stay mentally healthy. For me, this is the absolute number one technique I recommend to overcome depression–even more so than spiritual practice. My personal habit is to take long walks with my kids. I often carry the baby and push the two-year-old on the stroller while my five-year old follows on his bicycle.
•I get outside for at least an hour most days. Rain or shine, outside time is a must. I feel better almost as soon as I step out onto the porch. I take the kids to the park or we walk to the store or to a play area. In fact, I almost never drive a car, even though I have one.
•I meditate briefly each day and pursue other spiritual practices. My meditation practice consists of repeating a loving mantra several times for several minutes, or just allowing myself to sit still and notice the thoughts that come, then refocus on my “inner body”–the sensations I feel in my hands and feet and breath. I also try to consult my inner guidance on a daily, sometimes hour by hour basis as I consider what to do next, or what decision to make. This helps me greatly. Finally, when a thought comes that is particularly stressful, I journal it, Byron Katie-style. For more information on all of my spiritual practices, see my Spiritual Practice Success Stories and Depression Success Stories on mollieplayer.com.)
•I limit my junk food intake. Healthy food tastes good, too. It really does. I don’t limit fat and I focus on protein and vegetables. (I allow myself a few treats, too.)
•I have hobbies I truly love: reading, writing, and gardening. The value of having at least one endless project cannot be overstated. I love feeling productive, and all three of these hobbies feels valuable and fun. I get the pleasure of the activity itself, plus the knowledge that I’m doing something worthwhile. If you don’t have a job, at least get a difficult, long-term, highly involved hobby.
•I keep my house clean. For me, cleaning is relaxing. It gives me a sense of control and order. I love home organization, too.
•I only wear clothes that feel good on my body and that I feel I look good in. This is huge, and took me a long time to learn. I hardly ever wear those “cute” clothes that other people say look good on me. I wear a uniform every day: black pants, a crisp T-shirt and maybe a sweater.
•I keep my weight down. For me, feeling bloated causes anxiety. Though I don’t necessarily think extra weight looks bad on other people, I choose to do what it takes to keep my weight down (i.e. diet). For me, the tradeoff is worth it.
•I take medication. Does it work? Yeah, a little. This is especially important and helpful in the winter.
•I work hard. I stay busy. Staying busy is huge. Huge! The days fly by, and in the evening you can look forward to a TV show or a good book knowing that you did your work for the day already.
•I do work I love, namely, writing and being a mom. For people with depression, work enjoyment is even more important than for others. I don’t make a ton of money, but I wouldn’t trade my work lifestyle for anything.
•I spend time with good friends several time per week. Ah, friendship. This is a hard one for me. I’m a busy mom, after all. But I fold my friendship time into my mom time with lots of play dates, and once a month we have family friends over for dinner. Such an uplifting experience.
•I don’t overschedule my days. I try to take things at my own pace, and the pace of good parenting. If you are prone to anger or anxiety, overscheduling is a huge problem. Though I love to keep busy, I choose projects that I can do at my own pace and on my own schedule. I only schedule one outing per day with the kids, and I make it a life rule to rarely leave the house in the evening. (Family time!)
•I try not to yell at anyone. Conflict is such an emotional drain. Most of my relationship difficulties are handled in a calm, low-key manner. I just hate being in a fight.
•I prioritize sleep. I don’t have a TV or computer addiction. In fact, addictions of all kinds scare me. I watch TV a few times a week, and go to bed at the same time my kids do. For alone time, I get a babysitter three times per week.
•I try to do all the little “shoulds” we all have for ourselves, while also trying not to do too much. It is a balance. Such a tricky, precarious balance. But I’ve found that for me, there’s no way around it.

So, the list is long, I know. Maybe even a bit intimidating. Depression is such a huge, demanding thing.

There are no easy answers. But there are answers. And hey–that’s better than nothing.

Besides, all this self-improvement stuff? It doesn’t just keep my depression at bay. It makes me a better person, too. Most of it is stuff even someone who doesn’t have depression would benefit from. The main difference is that I feel I have no choice. Drop the ball on any two of these, and rough days are ahead. It’s not a self-pity thing; it’s just true.

I do remain hopeful that one day, my depression will be healed entirely. It happened to my dad and many others. Either way, I (mostly) accept myself right where I’m at. This is my life, and it’s a good one.

I’m blessed.

Mollie

*P.S. For more depression success stories, see mollieplayer.com*

Clueless

I think one of the biggest problems with looking for help for social anxiety is that the help is always from a particular biased perspective. It assumes you already have close friends to talk to and go out with,a family who you care about and offer support, work colleagues who are already friends and that people like you and the feelings of being hated are all in your head and are just paranoia when they are not. It assumes you get invited to parties all the time and its you turning them down. For someone with severe SA they never get invited to parties or anywhere else for that matter as that would mean you already have friends or support network.

They assume that you live in a great area so walks are peaceful and relaxing and that your neighbours, family are quiet and considerate so its  easy to get great sleep as SLEEP is essential for a better mind they keep telling us. Relaxation techniques dont work when your living space is so noisy it sounds like the middle of a battle-zone.They also almost always assume that you are young and have the rest of your life left while also pretending that age doesn’t matter and its never too late.

I think being completely and totally isolated is much harder as you have to make the first move every time in every situation. For any connection at all you have to approach and engage in conversation, join clubs, seek help which is often useless or not there.  This is also hard to do as the motivation, cheerfulness and enthusiasm are non existent. If the only way to make conversation and which is advised in almost all self help books and online is to approach strangers on the street and invent conversation on appropriate subjects then obviously this is often going to go badly. That’s because you would have to change your personality and behaviour FIRST in order to get people to like you when you do make the first move. The idea that you learn from constant practice is one of the biggest lies in therapy as in reality you keep failing as you are already socially inept so you get treated like shit, often become an object of ridicule at school or work and so get even worse, not better.

First I am as miserable as f**k and have no enthusiasm or friendly banter, regularly thinking of death. Second as a 40+ lone socially awkward man I am likely to repel people. if it was simply a matter of forcing myself to speak and witty banter came out it would be easy and shows how absolutely clueless many therapists truly are.With women its even worse as they are genetically programmed to avoid creepy weirdos in case they are dangerous and awkward men are creepy weirdos and of course most women never speak to lone males first for any reason. Thirdly lots of people in my city are aggressive and quite nasty so i would often get a bad response or ignored. This would obviously make me worse. Yet the advise is to keep deliberately getting rejected especially for men approaching women as if somehow this makes you immune to it.

It’s not really any better online either. In over 15 years of using the internet and help forums I have only made one regular contact so obviously I am not learning or gaining confidence or getting any better at all. Quite the contrary in fact. Using anxiety forums makes me feel more disliked than real life when I was working.People saying you need to say this and that and be a certain way and then get angry you dont understand fail to realise their advice simply doesn’t work.

I am going to go for a walk now as the weather forecast is wrong yet again and its actually sunny. I am not going to smile at and approach strangers on the street and make witty banter as I dont have any and feel a constant inner rage!

 

Christmas Market

Last week I visited nearby Nottingham for their Christmas market as I am still trying to go out at least one day a week. In the afternoon I went to a local country deer park. I quite enjoyed it for a while but still felt some kids were mocking me at one point. Paranoia or madness, it never goes away. I also become quite agitated at the market as it was full and I hate taking pictures with lots of people around so left early.