A Familiar Stranger

A Familiar Stranger

It’s the strangest feeling to look at someone who gave you life, who shares your genes and resemblance but is a stranger to you. My Dad is a stranger to me.  In five years, I’ve seen him once, tomorrow will be the second time.  After my Mum and Dad separated, my Dad became distant, I tried and tried to keep the relationship strong but eventually it became to hard.  My Dad moved as far away from me as he could, to get away from my Mum and it seemed like the easiest decision for him to leave me.

For the first sixteen years of my life, I had the perfect Dad.  He was my best friend, my role model.  I was a complete Daddy’s girl!  I was a tom boy and I liked working on cars with him and working at his garage during the summer.  He was everything I could have asked for in a father and I look back at that man fondly and also sadly because that man doesn’t exist anymore.

Separation is hard and I understand that he needed time after the divorce but his children should have been his focus, instead he decided to run away from everything and move hundreds of miles away.  It was shortly after this I was diagnosed with depression, maybe his actions triggered it, or maybe it was a long time coming.  It was difficult losing my best friend and feeling like I had done something wrong.  I took his side in everything, I was terrible to my Mum in the hopes that he would see I loved him and if he had asked me to move away with him, I would have done.  Instead, he just left and did nothing to stay in contact, like he wanted to forget I existed.  It’s a horrible feeling to be rejected by your own father, and I live with that rejection every day.

My first suicide attempt was traumatic and shameful and I wanted my Dad, but despite the hospital and family contacting him, I heard nothing from him.  How can a parent learn that their child has tried to take their own life and do nothing?  How can a parent not care that their child wants to die?  My second and third suicide attempts brought no more than a text and the knowledge that my Dad didn’t care that I was suffering and dying inside breaks my heart.  I went four years without seeing my Dad, and having no contact apart from the occasional birthday text to him coming to visit for three days.  I remember being so nervous about seeing him, and wondering if I was better of just not seeing him but I still have this urge to please him, and to make him proud so I met him.  It was awkward and surreal seeing the man who for sixteen years was my world, he looked like me and he sounded like he always did but he was a complete stranger.  He knew nothing about my life, nothing about the person I had become.  He made apologies and promises to be better, to talk to me every week and visit more often and I believed him because I wanted him to be that person.  A year has passed and for the first two weeks, he kept it up and then it was like before, he lost interest and the disappointments kept coming.

Now he’s here again, wanting to see me for just a few hours and again, I’m too weak and hopeful to say no, even though it would save me the hurt and pain that is bound to come when he lets me down again.  Tomorrow I see him once more and the anxiety I feel is the same I feel when confronted with a stranger on the street.  My depression is looming in the background waiting for him to let me down so it can take advantage.  But somewhere inside me is that five year old girl who thought her Daddy was a hero, who would have done anything to make him proud and that little girl makes me risk my own heart to give him another chance.

Parents are supposed to be everything for their children.  I will never understand parents who abandon their children, a person that they brought into this world and had a responsibility to care for.  I’m lucky to have one amazing parent in my Mum and I know that she’ll always be there for me, but it’s not quite the same as having two parents who love and support me through life.  When my Dad was amazing for the first 16 years of my life, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer that man, no longer that great Dad who I loved.  He’s just a stranger now, a stranger that gave me life and looks just like me.

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Week in bed.

Week in bed.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I last posted.  Things all roll into one when you’re ill and in bed all week.  It’s been a really bad week for me depression wise and chronic fatigue wise.  The week started with me receiving a letter that said I was unsuccessful with me application for PIP benefit.  I’ve been on PIP for two years since I had to quit working due to my depression and it’s something that I really value because I am too ill to work at the minute, I’ve tried and the money from the benefits gives me a little bit of independence and a lot of support to live my life.  Reading through the decision letter was something that triggered my depression big time because it was such an unfair decision.  I am still really angry and disappointed that I’ve been judged as I have.  I’d had a face to face assessment with a person who was not medically trained at home, because my anxiety prevents me travelling into town.  The assessor had stated that I seemed fine in person and did not seem anxious at all which is completely ridiculous!  I don’t know how anyone can pretend to know what anxiety looks like if they don’t suffer with it, it’s different for everyone!  I hadn’t slept for three nights before that assessment, I was sweating heavily and could only give one word answers because I was so nervous, I was continually pinching myself throughout because that’s how I handle stress, by hurting myself in some way.  Maybe if I’d pulled a knife out and started cutting in front of the assessor she would have thought I was anxious then!

The letter went on to say that my medication appeared affective because I basically had not attempted suicide in the past two years.  This outraged me and made me seriously doubt the future of my country.  It is so easy for some people to get benefits, people who go on jobseekers who don’t look for work and live off the benefits nicely for the rest of their life.  I cannot get benefits because they think my mental health is stable, because I haven’t tried to kill myself lately and it’s really hurtful.  The whole assessment and decision letter was based on the physical side of illness, the mental side of illness was completely ignored and I can really relate to the issues many people suffering with mental health go through when trying to get financial help.  Mental illness should be given the same rights as physical illness, it isn’t any less suffering because you can’t see it! I feel let down by my government and country, I feel betrayed and not cared for.  I’ve been ignored and refused something that I should be eligible for, simply because mental illness isn’t recognised the same way physical illness is.

So my week started off badly and as a result, my depression was worse than it’s been in a long time.  I felt useless, lost and so stressed about life. Tuesday the doctor rang and told me I’ve got a b12 deficiency so now I have to take tablets for that, which explains why my fatigue has been so much worse the past month.  To top the week off, I caught a cold.  It sounds so stupid, the common cold made me bed ridden for three days.  My immune system has been so weak since my chronic fatigue came on, I catch bugs so easily and I just can’t fight them off.  I caught the cold of my mum who got over it in two days and here I am, five days in and I’ve only just been able to get out of bed, and that’s only to lie on the sofa.  It’s really hard getting bugs with chronic fatigue because on a normal day, I feel ill, achy, fatigued and brain fogged so adding a cold to that is just awful, it completely flawed me and I couldn’t fight it off.  So Christmas is going to be an illness filled one this year as usual.

It’s been a terrible week and it’s hard to believe anything well get better right now, my depression is in its element and I’m devastated that I have to live like this.  I’ve just got to hold on to the little things that make my life worth the fight, like my fiancé who loves me, my family who love and support me and the hope that one day, I won’t have to fight so hard just to live.

The Voice Inside My Head.

The Voice Inside My Head.

I’ve heard depression described as many things and appear in many forms but for me it’s a voice inside my head.  When people hear me say I hear a voice in my head, they do look at me like I’m crazy but it isn’t someone else’s voice I hear, it’s my own.  It’s a voice that lies in wait for a moment of weakness, like if I have a bad day, If I have an argument with a loved one, If someone makes a comment that’s upsetting, If I fail at something.  As soon as I’m weak the voice comes to life and tries it’s hardest to make me give up, it tries to make me stop fighting.

I’ve had this experience today.  My Fiancé asked me to go out with him for a drink, a completely normal request, couple’s go out all the time but I’ve been feeling down the past few days so I said no.  I always feel guilty for turning him down because he’s a social person who loves going out and I don’t want to hold him back.  Anyway, he became frustrated and said that it was hard for him not being able to do things like a normal couple.  It was a valid comment and after he realised it had upset me, he apologised and said he loved me and he didn’t mean to upset me, he was just frustrated that I couldn’t do something that I would like to be able to do.  It didn’t matter though because as soon as that comment upset me, the voice took it’s opportunity to make it worse.  “You’re holding him back”, “He’d be happier with someone else”, “He is only here because he feels sorry for you” “You’re a burden to him”, “You don’t deserve him” “You’re ugly and he could be with someone a million more times attractive”.  I try to block it out but once it starts it’s impossible to ignore, it’s literally my own voice inside my head demeaning me and making me feel like a failure, like there is no point in trying. “You should just give up” “You don’t have anything to offer in life, why are you here”, “You’re a burden to everyone you meet” “You know that you can’t hold on forever, just give up now”, “People would be better off without you”.  My Fiancé can see me struggling and he’s saying comforting things to me, about how he loves me so much and wants to marry me and have a family but the voice just twists it. “He’s lying”, “He’s just trying to make you feel better, he doesn’t actually want to marry you”, “You will fail him eventually”, “He would be better without you”.  The voice is winning at this point, I’ve been bottling things up like I do for weeks and now it’s using all that stress and frustration to take me down, my own voice trying to defeat me.

This is when my Fiancé did something that surprised me, he made a stupid random joke.  It came out of nowhere but I laughed and for a second it was quiet in my head.  Then the voice piped up again “Why are you laughing, you’re a disappointment”, “You’re ugly and fat, you shouldn’t be here”.  My Fiancé made another joke to get a laugh out of me and again I laughed and it was quiet.  I’ve always looked for someone who can make me laugh because it’s important to me and it’s payed off  because it turns out laughter quiets that voice inside my head.  My Fiancé figured out it was making me better and kept saying things to make me laugh, and eventually that little voice crawled back into it’s hole.

It’s still there now, why my mood is vulnerable, popping in and out of my head but I’ve got over that breakdown and I’m fighting it with the help of my Fiancé’s brilliant sense of humour.

That voice is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with though and I’m sure it won’t stay down for long, it will pop up as soon as I’m weak enough again.  It’s the fact that the voice is my own that’s hard, it’s literally me telling me to give up and it’s hard to ignore your own head.  My mind is my enemy, for some reason it doesn’t want me to be happy and it does whatever it can to make me struggle.  It’s a tiring fight, mentally exhausting to try and keep your own mind quiet.  I hope that one day that voice withers away and dies, one day I want to be strong enough to cut it off completely, but for now I have to fight it and hold on to the feeling of being wanted and loved.  I have to let the people around me support me and help when they can because love and laughter will beat the little voice eventually.  Just got to keep fighting.

How do you notice Depression.

How do you notice Depression.

So today I had an appointment with my GP who’s always been a strong support figure for me, I saw a lot of Doctors but she was the only one who really saw how depression was affecting me.  The last  few months have been tough, I had go back on antidepressants again because I wasn’t coping without them.  I really wanted to get off them and be strong enough to cope but after a couple of months, my mood started to decline quite a lot and I knew I was at risk without them.

Seeing my GP today, I told her how I was felling very low and how my Chronic Fatigue was playing up, she was shocked to hear I am sleeping 10 hours at night and then four or five during the day.  What surprised me is when she looked at me and said “You don’t look well” and it was the first time someone had said that to me.  Depression is an invisible illness and it’s hard when no one can see how you are suffering inside but she took one look at me and knew I wasn’t myself, it was comforting.

My suicide attempts took place at a very low time for me and my GP voiced her worry that I was getting near that point again. I’m sleeping a lot, not eating properly, not leaving the house.  It really shocked me that I hadn’t seen these things, I thought I’d become good at realising when my depression was getting worse but until my GP asked me certain questions like “Are you leaving the house?”, “Are you eating regular meals?” “Are you having more bad days than good?” “Are you sleeping normally?” and all my answers solidified what she was thinking and made me realise that I had completely missed the signs.  I’ve stopped looking after myself, I’ve isolated myself from others, I’ve lost my motivation and enjoyment of things.

She seemed keen at this point to recommend seeing a psychiatrist.  I’ve been offered this before but never agreed, mainly because when I was in hospital after overdosing, I spoke to a psychiatrist and found it a really demeaning and shameful experience, I felt judged and not taken seriously.  I’ve done what the NHS call Good Thinking which is a free therapy service, I went through this three times and was given CBT every time, it never worked.  So at this point the only place my GP thinks will benefit my  severe Depression/Chronic Fatigue is a psychiatrist and I’m at the point where I will try anything.

The whole appointment with my GP made me realise that I’m not as good at seeing my own Depression as I thought I was, it’s a very sneaky condition and it somehow gets past your defences.  Hopefully seeing a psychiatrist will open some new paths for me though, it seems like I’ll be living with this forever sometimes and I don’t want to feel like this for the rest of my life.

Fight or Flight

Fight or Flight

I remember learning about the fight or flight response in A Level Psychology, and I just understood it immediately.  I wish I could say I’m a fighter but I’ve always leaned more towards flight.  It’s something that I’ve really struggled with.  As a teenager I lived just across from my high school and I remember having a particularly bad day and just running home.  I did this at least four times in high school and got in so much trouble for it, My Mum used to always send me straight back to school but it wasn’t something I could control.  I would be confronted with something that scared me and just run home without thinking, I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t understand it.  I felt weird and weak because no one else ran home to their mum when they were having a bad day.

Whenever I was due to give a presentation in school, it made me freak out so much.  I know most people don’t enjoy giving presentations in school but for me it was terrifying to the point that I would stick my fingers down my throat to make myself sick, just so I could get sent home.  There were times I would have a group presentation and it would be with my friends and they depended on me to do my part, they didn’t particularly like doing presentations either.  Instead of sticking with them and being strong, fighting my fear, I would have the day off school pretending to be ill.

If I go into a shop and it gets particularly busy, I can’t handle it and I literally do a runner out of the shop.  I often just leave my fiancé standing there wondering what happened.  When I go out somewhere and a stranger speaks to me I pretend not to hear them and keep walking or I freeze up and my fiancé has to answer for me.

At University I was in a lecture one day when the lecturer said the second part of the lesson would be in random groups, I was so scared I snuck out of the hall and went home.  I did this in a lot of lectures and eventually stopped going to any at all because my anxiety was making me so scared and weak, it was horrible and I hated myself because I am a smart person and if I had got through University, I could have a good career and be doing something that matters.

It’s all examples where my body and mind have chosen to just run instead of face the issue and its so frustrating because I want to be the type of person that just faces my fears and goes in head first determined to get it done.  But it’s something I can’t control, no matter what I do, if I get confronted by something which scares me, I flea without thinking, I do anything to get out of that situation.  It’s why I don’t go out much, here in my flat, nothing can confront me and nothing can make me feel like I need to run away.  No matter how many times I say to myself “You can do this, you’re strong” I can’t.  It’s like an invisible barrier that stops me, it won’t let me carry on, it wont let me confront my fear and fight.

 

It always catches up with you.

It always catches up with you.

The lead up to Christmas is such a busy time and it can be quite difficult to keep up with everything.  My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome limits my activities so much but I don’t want it to destroy me Christmas, it’s the happiest time of the year and I want to enjoy it.  Unfortunately if I take part in an activity, it has consequences and the next day the fatigue will hit me and I might not be able to get out of bed.  Today has been one of those days, I slept in till twelve, attempted to get up to meet family but couldn’t manage it.  I was falling asleep standing up and every part of my body ached.

For the last three days I’ve pushed myself to commit to events and it’s caught up with me finally.  Thursday I helped my Mum all day with work and usually this would make me unable to do anything the next day, but the next day was my sisters birthday and I couldn’t let me fatigue stop me from sharing the day with my sister. I’ve let my family down enough and I do whatever I can to make it up to them.  My sisters day wasn’t only physically draining but mentally as well because it involved going out for a meal which with my anxiety is a big effort.  The day left me mentally and physically exhausted but I promised to have my sister around the next day with my Niece to do Christmas things.  I woke up that day and nearly cancelled, I felt dead and I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed and sleep for a week but I didn’t want to let me niece down at Christmas so I got up, I didn’t manage to get dressed and my fiancé had to make all the food and get drinks but I stumbled my way through the day and managed a nap after they had gone.  I know that I pushed myself too much, Chronic Fatigue is about limiting yourself, doing small things and when it feels too much, resting because the more you push yourself, the more ill you will be when it catches up.  It always catches up, you might think you’ve got away with it but you haven’t.  I don’t like admitting that I can’t do something so I do it, even if it strains me, maybe I should put myself first but I’ve never been like that, I’d rather focus on other people and make them happy.

So today has been horrendous, the fatigue weighs me down, my body feels like I’ve ran a marathon and been hit by a bus at the same time.  Mentally I’m exhausted, I can only just manage this post and it’s not my finest piece.  I’ll probably be in bed for the next two days now and it’s frustrating because Christmas is a time to be with family and to be busy getting prepared.  For me it’s about taking part in whatever I can, getting some naps in whenever I can and hoping that my body can keep up and the fallout won’t be so bad.  I feel like after this Christmas I might just hibernate until next winter.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

I came across a question today “How easy is it to forgive those who have caused you pain?” and it made me think about all the people in my life who have hurt me and how that’s had an impact on the person I am today.  My depression is definitely tied to my self esteem, which has been knocked down further and further over the years by people who have made me feel not good enough.  It’s too easy to hurt people and I’ve had too many encounters to remember but the ones I do remember, they had an affect. So to those people, I address this post.

To the girls at school.  I had a hard time fitting in, I wasn’t as girly or outgoing as most of the girls, I preferred reading and playing imaginary games with myself. Because I was different, maybe I stood out more, maybe that’s why you picked on me.  I never wanted that attention, I wanted to be normal and fit in but you wouldn’t let me.  You sniggered behind my back, made jokes about my clothes.  You made it a point to not sit at the same table as me, sometimes leaving me completely alone while every other table was full.  It was fun to you, you didn’t care that it hurt me, that it made me feel disgusting. I was quiet and shy so you’d make it your mission to embarrass me and put attention on me.  You always picked me last for teamwork, and then ignored me completely.  You made it hard to go to school some days.  I still find it hard to be around groups of girls because I worry they’ll talk about me, that they’ll think I’m weird.  I still get frustrated that I’m not more girly and feminine and I worry that people don’t like me and that I’ll never fit in.  You made me a less confident person.  As a teenage, it’s hard and it’s easy to pick on other people for amusement but what you do can have lasting effects and it can hurt.

To the person I trusted.  You were the first person who made me feel like I fit in somewhere, and that I could trust someone.  You made me happier and livelier, you brought me out of my shell.  I let you in on my most private thoughts and worries.  I don’t know what happened, maybe I played a part in it and maybe I deserve some of the blame for the way things ended but I didn’t deserve what you did after.  You broke my trust and used my innermost worries and thoughts against me, you told other people my insecurities and manipulated them.  You made me cry myself to sleep, you made me pick up the knife for the first time and cut myself.  You made me hate myself so much that I didn’t want to be here anymore, you gave me confidence issues and issues with the way I look that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  You destroyed me more than you know and more that I’ve ever admitted.  Trust is easily broken and you broke mine and threw it in my face.

To my Dad.  You were my best friend, the person I could always count on.  You taught me a lot of things and made my childhood the best I could have asked for.  You were the perfect father until Mum left you.  I know it hurt, I know it nearly destroyed you but I was there.  I helped you, I made the effort and stood up for you.  I made it hard for Mum because I wanted her to hurt, I wanted to make it better for you.  In the end though, you left me.  You walked out of my life when I needed you, when I was confused and angry.  You made your life a priory and the life of your children second best.  You were part of the reason I tried to kill myself for the first time.  You didn’t care that I was sick, you didn’t care that I had tried to take my own life and that rejection affected who I am today because I will never feel good enough again.  I felt like no one would want me if my own father didn’t.  I’m broken because you ripped out a part of my heart.  You’re trying to make up for it now, and I’ll give you the second chance but that rejection and abandonment will never fade, I will always feel unimportant and rejected.  You make me expect disappointment from every person I meet.

Those are the three moments of my life I believe had a real affect on who I am today.  My self esteem and opinion of myself is low because I let these experiences effect me.  I wish I could have been stronger and I wish I could tell my past self to stay strong and ignore what others do and say but I can’t.  Do I forgive these people for hurting me?  Yes I do.  It’s hard but resentment will not help me, it will not make me better.  I forgive these people, sometimes we don’t know our actions can seriously harm others.  I forgive the people who hurt me, I just won’t every forget them or their actions and that’s the sad part.