I’ll be back

On Thursday everything caved in on me.

I found myself turning around from work, pulling over, and breaking.

Everything felt dark. My brain was crushing in on itself. My chest was crushing in on itself. The only sounds I could hear were the crashing of the blood in my ears.

All that filled my head was the need to stop this feeling. Any way to stop feeling.

I was lucky.

I am lucky.

I have a husband who I can be honest with when it hits the fan.

I have a friend in my computer who has been there and I knew would know what I was describing. She would know the terror and the pain.

So I fought every instinct to stay silent. I listened to the voice whispering that I wouldn’t make it through alone. I reached out.

They talked me through. They got me to coffee (where strangers offered to buy me food and give me tissues and listen).

But as I said at the time “What do I do though? Email saying I got to a roundabout and decided that functioning just isn’t me? I tell people all the time that this shit is ok but I can’t see how it is today.”

I felt like a fraud. I still do. I talk so much about being open, about how we can never truly understand and beat mental health stigma without acknowledging it and treating it as any other illness. But when push comes to shove, I will lie to friends and colleagues to convince them of my sane. (Yes, that reads weird if you’re not humming the tune to “You’ll be back” from Hamilton).

Since Thursday it comes and goes. Waves of panic and terror washing over me, like when you’re a child and the wave is too sudden. You’re suddenly under the water and you don’t know how to breathe or get free, even though the wave will break soon.

I’m trying to identify the triggers. My general fear of failing and letting people down seems high on the list… I can catasrophise any situation.

– Made a typo in a work post? That clearly means you have misunderstood everything. That means you have spent two days researching the wrong thing. The company will fail. You’ll lose your placement. Uni will be wasted. No-one will ever employ you.

– Bursary card wasn’t topped up? They decided that they shouldn’t have given you one this year. You’ll have to pay back the other payments. Furball will never go back to the chiropractor. He’ll live a life of pain, blame me, and it will fester until all he sees is pain linked with me.

You don’t want to know where my inability to do housework ends up…

I have applied for counselling. I have a GP appointment. This shit didn’t beat me during pregnancy and it won’t now.

But at the same time, I just want my duvet. I want to hide in my den. Every step outside of it opens up the possibility of triggering another cascade of failure, and that knowledge is suffocating.

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Gnight. Tomorrow is a new day.

I’ve mentioned before that hormones send my brain into chaos. It is frustrating as hell as no matter what tried and tested methods I use, it stubbornly refuses to work.

Today was my first day since diagnosis of experiencing it at work. It must have happened pre-diagnosis but I suspect that where I am now aware of it, I am more frustrated by it.

I tried every method going, but my brain point blank refused to generate any ideas or to write with any semblance of skill.

I don’t know how to reconcile it though.

In my mind I have failed. I should lose my job and never work again as I clearly cannot be trusted.

The rational voice is piping up “what about the days when you hyperfocus and do three days worth in one?”

But that is other days. Not today. Today is the one I have failed to produced anything. (I did spend time reading up to be able to write tomorrow).

To add to the fail, hyperfocus kicked in after work and I didn’t have any awareness of Strawb saying goodnight, and I didn’t tuck her in… Which clearly means I failed as a mother.

Reading some Pep Talks by Lin-Manuel Miranda (thanks to my amazing Baby Hedgehog friend) and trying to snap myself out of this.

One of the things I love most from them is this:

I don’t have a book of quotations

Or wisdom I pull from the shelf;

Most often the greetings I wish you

Are the greetings I wish for myself.

So if I write “relax,” then I’m nervous,

Or if I write, “cheer up,” then I’m blue.

I’m writing what I wish somebody would say,

Then switching the pronoun to you.

I love reading them knowing that he woke up that day feeling the same way I did. I like the idea that my words for me might help someone else.

Be a plug

I haven’t blogged in a long time.

Huge huge things have happened during the past few months, and I want to write about it all, but it is too raw to get the words out. It seems wrong to just blog and ignore it though, hence the silence.

But it needs to stop. I need to write. So I’m starting from now. I’ll revisit the past few months when I can.

For now, live your best life. Be a plug.

#pluglife

My name is Flamesparrow, and I live with chronic depression

My name is Flamesparrow, and I live with chronic depression.

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Photo by Alexandru-Bogdan Ghita on Unsplash

I meant to write this yesterday for World Mental Health Day, but life got in the way.

I read this by Wil Wheaton, and began to look at my own life story and my relationship with depression.

As a child, I cried easily.  Looking back with the knowledge that I now have, ADHD and emotional dysregulation was probably a large factor in that.  For as long as I can remember I have suffered from nightmares.  I don’t know if that is a brain chemistry depression thing, or an ADHD thing, but it is a part of me.  I can remember vivid ones from when I would have been about 6 years old, and given that I have poor memory of events from childhood, it shows how intense they were.

It was when I was 15 that I recall being concerned.  I still cried easily (I still do to be fair), and was aware that I didn’t want to be seen. I would stay quiet and blend in as much as I could.  I couldn’t see why anyone would ever like me, and I would replay every thing that I had done that had hurt someone, over and over again.  I put it down to being a teenager.  Maybe it was – do all teenagers feel like that?

I broke off my friendships at the end of school.  I don’t really know why, except that I wasn’t happy, so maybe a total change would fix it?

Again, I still had no confidence.  I would tell myself that no-one would be interested in me.  I was always “Kelly’s friend”, “Suzie’s sister” etc, and felt that I didn’t have enough personality to deserve being “Me”.

As I got older, I disappeared more and more.  I was eventually given antidepressants, but felt, as so many do, that they were bad.  I didn’t realise truly that so much about myself was the depression talking.  I would stop taking them when I could feel happiness, as depression is about not being happy, right?

I was in my late 20s when I finally started to understand a bit more about it, but again, I still saw it as a blip, a bit of health that would be fixed, and still mainly about being happy.

It is only in my 30s that the penny has dropped.  I have read so much and learned so much more.  I can see how the little voice of depression has insinuated itself into so much of my life and personality.  That it is not about happy, it is about room to breathe.

I wish I had understood when I was a child, or a teen.  To understand that it didn’t have to be that way, that the little ball of darkness on my shoulder could be told to shut up.  I take medication for it now and have no intention of stopping – after 37 years, I think we can safely say that my brain doesn’t make the right chemicals.  Every day is a challenge, even with medication.  I know that the ball of darkness could open up and swallow me without warning.  But I also know that if it happens, it is not forever.  I can get past it.  I will get past it.

I am not worthless.  I am lovable.  I am intelligent.

I live with chronic depression, but it does not control me.  It’s kind of like having a pet dog (I assume… as I’m still not allowed to have one *sob*), you can train it and keep it calm and under control, but one day it could still decide to eat the sofa and poop on the floor.  On those days you just clean up the poop, maybe take it for a walk, and curl up in a blanket and wait for it to calm down again.

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Since learning to live with it I have stopped seeing myself as someone’s friend, mum, sister, partner.  I see myself as me.  Flamesparrow.  And she’s alright…

Talking about it is the most important thing to me though.  I write about it openly on here.  My children know about it.  I am honest with my friends if I cancel plans because the sofa needs re-stuffing.  Mental Health needs to be visible, and valid.  If me being open about it encourages others to consider their own mental health, or look to support their loved ones, then there is a positive to the ball of darkness.  The puppy may be stood in his own poop, but he is wagging his tail and looking cute.

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None of this came out quite as eloquently as it was in my head yesterday, but it came out.

I am Flamesparrow, and I live with Chronic Depression.

I need to write

Well that’s weird, it just published a post I did months ago…

I really want to write more. I miss writing. But at the same time I’m so so tired.

Family drama is intense atm, but also I am working. A real big girl job.

Go follow DocHQ on facebook, twitter, linkedin…

It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s exciting.

I’m more confident than I ever expected to be. I’m using skills from uni that I wasn’t even aware I had learnt. But also my brain had a summer to sleep so it’s kinda rusty, and I have an hour commute each way twice a week.

It’s worth it though. I needed a placement year (not four weeks) to get some sort of idea of a life plan, and it’s already helping.

Now just to get back in the swing of it all so that I can be mum, and start writing again.

Adulting is hard (aka How do you apply for jobs???)

I have a placement year next year, so I need to apply for jobs. Seems simple enough, but no.

Firstly, I’m old. Everything I knew about writing a CV is no longer what is done it seems. Then you get to add in that I am applying for “creative” positions, so the CV had to change again. I need something called an Infographic CV too seemingly but we haven’t covered those yet.

Anyway, I did the course, I did research, I created a semi presentable CV. All fine (ish).

Next bit though is the Cover Letter. Now as far as I can tell, they haven’t changed much, but at the same time, I am back to this whole creative thing. I’m applying for positions involving me writing, involving me having personality…

Dear Sir,

I would like to apply for the position of x.

I can do e, f, g.

I am suitable because of s, t, u.

Yours sincerely…

It’s not right is it? Not for creative, outgoing roles.

So what do I do? Do I write my letter as me? Do I keep it formal or do I answer their questions as I would perform the role? Do I try to find some middle ground?

And then there’s names… Do I write Mr Tootles if his name is listed as “Mr Tootles, Dave”. What about “email Norbert@dragons.com”? Do I write Dear Norbert? Do I write Dear Mr Poolmost after having googled and discovered that Norbert Poolmost works for that company?

There’s so many rules and they all change and blur and I can’t adult anymore. Help!

Bubble Mixture

I had intended that this summer would involve me writing.  I got myself a HuffPost Blog which was absolutely incredible, and the discussion from it, mainly on Reddit, produced a whole pile of ideas for more ADHD writing.  I have plans for what I want to write for the next few posts, a whole pile of research to do etc.

I was going to do general blogging on here about life, the joys of trying to pin down a placement, how terrifying it is that I have had a clean kitchen for a fortnight….

smoke bubble

But once again, cancer has entered our world.

A disease that makes no sense.  That blindsides you.  That permeates all around it with fear and dread.

How can I write about the various inane things when there is so much bigger enveloping us?  I know logically that by continuing with the inane things, the small things (yes, including the Man Thing’s tiny hands), the mundane things, it keeps things on track.  It keeps our world from imploding.  But when the air is cloying and thick with smoke around you, it is hard to tell yourself that blowing bubbles will be good.  (Why yes, that is a very clunky analogy).

My place at the moment is the one of holding my loved ones together.  My place is to know when to blow bubbles.  So, I need to shake my head clear, and start making bubble mixture.

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