Journals: Good or Bad?

Journals: Good or Bad?

I saw something on television today about how keeping a journal is potentially harmful because it makes you stew in your own feelings and accept negative emotions rather than confronting them and changing it.  It was all about how writing about your feelings and emotions doesn’t actually affect them and that there is no advantages of writing about your misfortunes.  While I accept that opinion, I don’t agree with it.

I started writing in my first journal when I was 12 years old and I have every journal I’ve ever written in, saved on my bookshelf.  At first a journal was just a way for me to express my frustration and feelings during my teenage years and moaning about school and friends, talking about who I had a crush on and how I planned to make them marry me.  It was immature fun and it gave me an outlet, I didn’t have many friends as a teenager and my journal was in a way, my best friend.

As I got older my writing became more serious and reflective, it was about expressing feelings that I couldn’t express to people, talking about my worries and fears, and my dreams and hopes. I felt lighter and free after writing about my feelings, it made things easier for me.

Now, reading back through my journals has proved really useful, not only does it remind me of little happy moments I’d forgot about, it showed me how depression entered my life.  I was diagnosed with depression at 18 and I’d always believed that it had started at 16 after my parents divorce and after I’d been through some bullying.  Looking back at my journals though, I can see now that it affected me long before I realised.  When I was 13 years old, I wrote about killing myself for the first time and periodically after that, I mention not wanting to live and wanting to give up on life.  I wrote more often between the ages of or 12 and 15, and it was all very depressing and now I’ve come to identify my depressive behaviour, I can see that I was depressed long before I realised.  It wasn’t just normal teenage hormones and mood swings, it was a constant feeling of darkness and I described it in my journals as this blackness inside me, that tried to ruin any happiness, I wrote about not enjoying life and feeling not well.

Reading back has helped me, it’s showed me that my depression isn’t because of my parents divorce or being bullied, it doesn’t come from a negative or traumatic experience, it just is.  I didn’t believe in depression as a biological illness, I always thought it was triggered by trauma and I felt guilty for having depression when I knew that some people had experiences a loss worse than mine, people have it a lot worse than me.  Now I think that maybe depression was just always there in me, maybe I don’t have to feel guilty about feeling the way I do when I have so many good things in my life.

Reading back through my journals has also helped me understand where my anxiety stems from, I was always a shy child and I preferred books to people and I enjoyed learning new things, which made me different to other kids and kids can be cruel to someone who is different.  I let classmates walk all over me, I let them say mean things and laugh at me, and I did it because I wanted to fit in.  I tried to follow the trends and change myself to be more like my peers but it never worked, I was always still singled out and it caused me to sink into myself and choose to avoid rather than confront.  I started to run away from situations instead of standing up for myself and that’s why my anxiety has come to be as bad as it is.  One of the things that stands out most to me in my journals is the days I would fake being ill to get out of school because there was a presentation that day or a group project and I was terrified of being humiliated so I did whatever I had to do to fake sickness and get the day off.  I wish that I could go back now and just face my fears because by avoiding them, I never gave myself the chance to prove I was good enough, I made it impossible to build my self esteem and confidence because I found it easier to hide away.  It’s really sad to think that I was so terrified of my classmates opinions and actions towards me and I wish that I had been stronger and stuck up for who I was instead of hiding and trying to change myself into someone else.  I’m 23 now and ever since the age of 12, I’ve avoided any experience which I thought could cause me humiliation, and by doing this, I’ve never given myself the chance to prove my fears wrong.  Just because some kids at school laughed and said horrible things, doesn’t mean everyone is going to do the same and even though I can see that logic, it doesn’t help me because I’m too used to thinking that people will dislike me, so I avoid people and situations where I could be vulnerable.  Just being in public makes me panic, because I have so little confidence in myself and I see people laughing, and think they’re laughing at me, I see people talking and automatically think they are making comments about the way I look or behave.

My journals have shown me where I went wrong, they’ve shown me that I shouldn’t feel guilty for being depressed when I’ve had a much better life than some.  They remind me of better times and make me proud of some of the things I’ve overcome. That’s why I think journals are beneficial, especially when you suffer with a mental illness because you can track your mood and identify triggers and behaviours that may signal a relapse.  It’s like writing this blog piece, it lifts a stress from my shoulders and allows me to say what I want to say without that face to face fear of judgement.  It allows me to reflect and think clearly which is really helpful.  I don’t know how I would have got through most of my life, if I didn’t have a journal to write in.

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Sometimes, Opposites really do attract.

Sometimes, Opposites really do attract.

I’m not sure how I, the shy, antisocial bookworm ended up with my Fiancé Johnny who is outgoing, sociable and ambitious.  We are opposites in every way, he enjoys going out with friends, meeting new people, keeping fit.  He is positive and ambitious, always looks on the bright side of things and keeps himself motivated.  I on the other hand hate socialising, I always see the negative in a situation, I prefer staying in to going out, reading to socialising and my expectations of life are low.  Despite this, we seem to work.

I met Johnny online shortly after my third suicide attempt.  My family had encouraged me to join online dating sites because my anxiety and depression really limited my abilities to meet people and I’ve always been extremely shy.  I’d had a couple of bad experiences with online dating before meeting Johnny and I wasn’t really looking or hoping for anything.  I was in a really bad place, I’d attempted suicide a month before and as a result had to give up my job.  His message was straight forward and simple, he started off commenting on how we both had an interest in the WWE, it was innocent and not at all like some of the inappropriate cheesy messages I’d received before. Talking to him made me forget what was going on around me and I felt like a normal 20 year old.  It wasn’t long before he asked to meet me and he lived half an hour away so it was perfect.  I almost didn’t agree to that meeting, I was struggling with depression and I didn’t want anyone being dragged down by me, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  It was my Mum who pushed me to meet him, she told me that sometimes we have to take a leap in life, and if it didn’t work out then at least I gave it a go.  It was at this point I told Johnny about my anxiety, I couldn’t just go out to dinner like normal people and for the first time, it didn’t put someone off and we agreed to meet at a park which was quiet and pretty.  My mum drove me and I begged her to turn around and take me home, my anxiety was crippling me and I didn’t think I would be able to go through with it but my mum pushed me and dropped me off.  I’ll never be able to thank my Mum enough for pushing me that day.

Three years later and we’re engaged.  Johnny came into my life at an extremely tough time and sometimes I think he was meant to find me then because he saved me.  I had resigned myself to being alone, depression is a hard illness to cope with and it takes it’s toll on the people around you.  Johnny never swayed though, he remained patient and understanding.  He came to my doctors appointments and learned about my medication, eventually taking over the responsibility of making sure I took my medication and keeping it locked away so there was no risk of me overdosing again during low periods.  There is a six year age gap between us and he’d experienced a lot more of life than I had, he’d been through all the partying and dating, he’d had lots of girlfriends.  I’d never been to a club, never really drank alcohol and had one relationship in my life.  We couldn’t have been more different but it worked because he pushed me and encouraged me to do things I’d been too scared to do.  He took me shopping and to the cinema, he pushed me to go out for a meal with him and to stay at his place at weekends.  It seemed like nothing to other people but my anxiety had stopped me doing these things for so long and he pushed but never forced me to try new things and he never left my side doing them.

Johnny is the most amazing man I’ve ever met, he’s been through his own share of troubles but he’s always made sure I was okay first, he’s done everything he can to support me and help me recover.  Depression is a terrible illness and it doesn’t work on a schedule, I’ll have good months and bad but Johnny never gives up and he reminds me every day that he’s not going anywhere.  For the first time I feel comfortable being who I am in front of someone, I don’t have to put on an act or pretend to be anything I’m not.  Johnny continues to be this upbeat, positive and ambitious person who encourages and motivates me.  He may be my opposite but I’m thankful for that because If i’d ended up with someone just like me, I’d never have had the courage or motivation to be better, I’d never have experienced some of the things my anxiety prevented me from doing.  It works both ways too, being with me has calmed him down, he’s not the same party animal who enjoyed drinking too much alcohol and being an idiot. Johnny helped me recover and heal and I helped him settle down and realise what he wanted.  We may clash and argue about the little things, he may listen to his dance music too loud and bore me with his football talk and war movies but I’d never want to be with anyone else.  He is my soulmate and no matter what comes at me, I know he’ll be there to help me through it.

So sometimes, opposites really do attract.

Self Harm Isn’t a Joke

Self Harm Isn’t a Joke

I first self harmed at 15, I tried it because at the time there was a trend of cutting words into your arms.  It was seen as rebellious and cool, I did it once and forgot about it.  That is, until I was 16 and being bullied, I turned to it again, but this time I did it because I felt so unbearably miserable inside and I wanted to make it seen, I wanted someone to see my pain and help me.  It was just a couple of times and then I gave up because I didn’t have the courage to carry on, I was squeamish and hated pain.

I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t had those experiences, what if I had never tried it? But I did and for some reason it stuck with me and at 18 I began self harming again, but this time it wasn’t an experiment, it was serious.  I had a trusty knife, always the same one, sharpest I could find and I started off cutting once a month, then once a week and eventually it became a night time ritual.  It was my way of purging the hatred and depression inside of me, the pain no longer got to me and seeing myself bleed brought me relief.  My favourite place to cut was my arms, it was easy and accessible, I wore long sleeved tops and jumpers for months before anyone found out what I was doing.

I eventually learned that my arms were too visible, I didn’t want people to see what I was doing, I didn’t want people seeing the ugliness.  So I began cutting my thighs, and it’s still my go to spot.  The thing with self harm is, it’s never enough.  I started out cutting little scratches, not enough to bleed, and then it wasn’t enough so I cut deeper and deeper, I demanded more blood and more pain.  I’d let my scars scab over and then cut them open again and again.

For me, self harm is a way to relieve myself of the feelings that threaten to kill me inside.  I’ve gone weeks and eventually months without self harming but when my depression gets bad and I don’t know how to keep going, it’s the only way to purge myself.  It’s the only way to let out my anger and hatred.

What upsets me and makes me really angry is people who trivialise self harm.  This week I saw someone I know, who has never self harmed post on the internet, claiming that they self harm.  It made me really angry because so many people today see self harm as a way to get attention, to gain sympathy and cause a stir.  People who pretend to self harm for attention, make it harder for people who actually self harm to get help.  I’ve seen pictures posted online, people who have self harmed and uploaded it to the internet for everyone to see.  I’ve never openly displayed my self harm, even when it was cool to do, even when I wanted for someone to see it and help me, I still hid it.  It probably seems hypocritical now, because I’m writing about it online but I’m doing it because I really believe that self harm gets pushed aside and ignored too much.  I self harm because I feel such a dark feeling inside, a soul crushing heaviness that kills any happiness I feel.  I don’t do it because it’s rebellious or cool, I don’t show everyone I meet my scars to get validation or attention.  Self harm is serious, it’s a sign that someone is struggling so much, they choose to go against everything in their nature and hurt themselves.  Human nature is to protect ourselves and ensure out species survives, when someone self harms, they go against all of this because they see no other way to rid themselves of the feelings inside.

People will walk past me in the street and they would never guess at the scars that hide beneath my clothes, scars that I have to look at for the rest of my life, scars I’ve tried to hide with tattoos.  I’ll never forget the first time I showed my Fiancé.  The first time I agreed to leave the lights on as I undressed, the feeling that he would look at my scarred skin and think I was ugly.  Self harm isn’t something you do to gain popularity, it isn’t something to make a joke of and flaunt about.  Self harm is serious and deserves to be seen as such.

Confidence and Self Esteem

Confidence and Self Esteem

My confidence and self esteem issues started in high school and have such a strong impact on me even now. it’s something that follows me and triggers my depression a lot, and in turn, my depression takes advantage of my low self esteem and makes me hate the person I am.

As a child, I was a complete attention seeker, always in front of the camera singing and dancing.  I was confident and adventurous, I loved making friends and I was slightly tom boyish but happy with who I was.  When I look back at photos and videos of myself back then, I feel a lot of things.  I feel a happiness at seeing my old self and seeing how much I enjoyed life.  I feel jealousy because I’d give anything to be that little girl again with all that confidence.  I feel sadness because that little girl I was, isn’t here anymore and she didn’t deserve to be broken down and made to feel worthless.

High school can be a hard time of life for some, while for others it’s the best years of their life.  My high school life was a mix of the two.  On one hand I loved learning, I was a bookworm and I loved to soak up knowledge and express my opinions.  On the other hand, my classmates made me dread going to school and that’s where I began to lose the confident, adventurous girl I was.  I wouldn’t say I was bullied, I was never physically hurt by my classmates or singled out and targeted by a group of people.  The problem was, I didn’t fit in anywhere and although I had friends, I drifted between groups and never really found my place which meant a lot of the time, I was left on my own.  Group projects or gym class used to bring dread to my heart because I knew I’d always be the last to be picked.  When paired with me, my classmate would snigger to their friends and complain in whispers because I was the quiet shy girl who always got on with the teachers and did well on schoolwork.  To everyone else, I was uncool and no one wanted to be associated with that bookworm who actually enjoyed schoolwork.  When speaking aloud in class, I became nervous and blushing had always been an issue, my classmates picked up on this and whenever I had to speak up, my classmates would laugh quietly to one another and whisper about how red I turned and how I would just look at the floor.  Eventually I felt like my opinions and my voice wasn’t important and it was easier and safer to stay quiet and instead of answering teachers, just pretend I didn’t know the answer.  I was always a bit tom boyish and the popular girls made comments about my clothes and asked me where I shopped, they’d giggle and judge me.  The boys would make comments about how I wasn’t girly and eventually changed my name from Heather to Hector because they thought I was more of a boy.

I thought college was my chance at a new start but it was more of the same, I was quiet and shy so people found it easier to ignore me and pretend I didn’t exist.  There was none of the teasing and insults that I’d experienced in high school but being ignored and rejected was the same.  I’d end up sitting at a table in class all on my own because no one would sit near me, they thought I was odd because I wasn’t as confident and outspoken as them.  I never got included in group work, the rest of the group would just talk amongst themselves and do the work without me.  This was also a time in my life where I was bullied by a single person who chose to pick on the way I looked and my weight.  I wasn’t overweight, I’d never been sporty or skinny and I’ve always been very short.  Nevertheless, I’d always worried about my appearance and when a girl started to call me fat and post pictures of me on the internet with insulting names and comments about my weight, it really destroyed me and it was the final straw.  I’d held on and tried so hard to fit in and be like everyone else but all I got was rejected, made fun of and ridiculed for being different.  I hated myself so much at this point that self harming came easily to me, I wanted to hurt and scar the ugly person I was, I hated my body and my appearance so much that I physically sliced into my skin with knives or scissors to make the pain go away.

High school and college was a constant period of my life where I was ignored, left out and isolated by others because I was quiet and people didn’t want to know the shy, quiet bookworm.  This left me feeling like I would never be good enough, that my life wasn’t important and that I was below everyone else.

I hate the person I am now.  Lot’s of people are insecure about themselves and have things they wish they could change about the way they look.  For me though, it’s a hatred of everything I see when I look in the mirror.  I hate that I’m not skinny or in shape, I hate the my hair is frizzy and not straight, I hate that my nose isn’t straight because I broke it when I was 12.  I hate the stretch marks on my skin, the way my skin never tans, the colour of my eyes, my chest size, my ugly feet.  Everything about the way I look is disgusting to me, it physically makes me sick thinking about myself.  And it’s not just on the outside but the inside too, the self loathing I feel because I’m not out going or bubbly, the feeling that I will always be that girl sat on my own because no one wants to know me.  I’m worthless and not good enough, I don’t fit in anywhere and I’m just disgusting .

I look in the mirror and I feel sad, I feel broken and I feel disgust.  No one knows how their words affect others, sometimes people speak without thinking.  At school, no one thinks about how, they way you treat someone can affect them in the long run, it’s all just gossip and being cool.  I just want someone to read this and think next time they see someone sitting on their own, next time you see someone being left out and ignored and make the effort.  I wish that someone had made the effort to include me, even once.

 

 

Quotes about Depression and Suicide

Quotes about Depression and Suicide

I’ve always really loved quotes because when I read one that I can relate too, it’s a good feeling to know that someone else has felt the same way.  Depression is isolating and reading words that someone else has written and relating to them makes me feel not so alone.  So I wanted to compile a list of my favourite quotes about depression and suicide and I hope that they can make other people feel less alone as well because loneliness is one of the hardest emotions to fight.

Most of these are off Pinterest and may not have authors listed so sorry about that.

“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”
― Margaret Atwood

“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.”
― Sally Brampton

“When someone asks me “What is wrong?” I simply reply with “I’m just tired” and they agree; they say to take a nap.  But you see this exhaustion it is not something simply resolved by sleeping.  I cannot simply shut my eyes and wake up okay.  I need a break from my brain, my heart, my life.  I need to go away for just a little while.  Or maybe forever.”

“When a depressed person shrinks away from your touch, it does not mean she is rejecting you.  Rather she is protecting you from the foul, destructive evil which she believes is the essence of her being and which she believes can injure you” – Dorothy Rowe

“People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives.  They want to end their pain.”

“You don’t know pain until you’re staring at yourself in the mirror with tears streaming down your face and you’re begging yourself to just hold on and be strong.  That is pain”

“I don’t know how I expect people to love me when I can barely look at myself without cringing”

“I say sorry a lot, mostly because I feel like everything is my fault”

“Depression isn’t always at 3am.  Sometimes it happens at 3pm, while you’re with your friends and you’re halfway through a laugh”

“Why don’t you accept compliments? Because if feels like I’m being lied too”

“It’s scary, what a smile can hide”

“Never underestimate how much pain somebody has to be to put a razor to their wrist, a finger to their throat, a gun to their head or a pen to ‘that’ note”

“Don’t try to relate to a suicidal person.  Sure you may have had some sad days but until you have felt that overwhelming, empty, almost calming desire to die, just say ‘Thank you for still being here, you are strong and I love you'”

“You hurt yourself on the outside trying to kill the monster on the inside”

“If you could see what I feel, if anxiety, if sadness, and loneliness were physical wounds that decorate my body in red lines and purple marks, would you be shocked at how bloody and bruised I am?”

“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are” – Robin Williams

 

These are a few quotes that have touched me and made me feel like I’m not truly alone in the world.  It’s hard living with depression and getting to the point where suicide is the only option you have to end the pain.  I would never wish it on anyone and one day, I hope that my words will touch someone else and make them feel less alone.  In a world filled with this many people, no one should feel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Privacy

Privacy

I noticed today’s word prompt is privacy and it got me thinking.  This blog is a way for me to vent how I am feeling and be honest about my depression and anxiety without feeling scared of what people think.  I don’t know why it’s easier to talk about how I feel here rather than in person but it is.  In my normal life, I’m a very private person and I don’t like anyone knowing things about me.

With my depression and anxiety, I’ve been referred to talking therapy a few times where I could go through CBT and talk about my feelings in order to change my mind set and hopefully get better.  Talking therapy for me is a nightmare and subsequently has never worked for me.  I used to dread going and when I was in a session, I would say whatever I needed to get out of there fast, even if it wasn’t the truth.

I don’t like to be the centre of attention and I find it hard to talk about my feelings, I don’t even tell my family or Fiancé what I’m feeling most of the time because I just feel like, why burden someone else.  To me, my issues are my issues and I don’t want to tell other people how I am feeling in case they turn around and say “That’s it?”.  I never had a big tragic event to trigger my depression, it just became something that affected me and people find that hard to deal with sometimes.  I know there are a lot of people in the world that have bigger issues like poverty, starvation, abuse, death etc. and I don’t want to seem selfish.  My life is a good one and I don’t have a reason other than dodgy brain chemicals to be depressed, and it makes me feel like I shouldn’t complain, I should just keep it to myself and suffer alone.

So when I’m sent to someone to talk about my depression and the things that affect in, I find it extremely daunting and I find it impossible to convey just how much I’m suffering.  I will simplify it and make it seem like I’m coping when I’m not because I don’t want to bother other people.  In therapy I used to do whatever I could to get discharged, I learned the mood questionnaires and I caught on to what the therapist wanted to hear and said it, I made them think I was recovering and that therapy was working for me, because I wanted to be discharged and not cause a fuss or be the centre of attention.

I’ve recently been referred to a psychiatrist because my depression hasn’t improved in five years and I have a history of suicide attempts.  Medication helps but when my mood gets too low, it’s ineffective and therapy has done nothing so now I have to go and see someone who is going to want me to talk about myself and my feelings.  I want to get better and I want someone to help me but I’m stuck in that place where I want help but my anxiety about being a burden stops me from expressing myself.

Privacy to me is important because I like to keep things to myself and be self reliant but it also makes me very hard to get to know.  Privacy makes me a very closed off person with a fear of being too much trouble and being judged for how I really feel.  Privacy is a good thing but it’s also a problem that affects me every day.

 

Money can’t buy Happiness

Money can’t buy Happiness

At some point I’m sure everyone experiences financial difficulty and it’s a stressful place to be.  That gut wrenching feeling every time you have to spend money, knowing that it’s less in your bank account.  At the minute I’m dealing with money stress and it’s really been lowering my mood and letting my depression take over.  Which is why I wanted to write a post to remind myself and anyone else reading that money doesn’t buy happiness and there are more important things in life than money.

I’ve been with my Fiancé for over two years and in that time, we’ve never been well off.  I can’t work because of my health and he found it really hard after being in the Army to find a normal job.  We’ve struggled but always found the money to get, we had a good period where I got accepted for benefits and my fiancé was working full time, we could treat ourselves to little things.  Unfortunately I was turned down a few months ago for benefits and my Fiancé lost his job so now we’re back to stressing and trying to live on as little as possible.  It’s made me think though, some of my happiest memories with my Fiancé are when we had no money and we were struggling to provide.

My Fiancé lived in a bedsit after being homeless and I used to go over and he lived in this small room which was freezing, but I never had a bad time there.  In fact, the memories I have of that time are fond ones of having to put two duvets on the bed to keep warm and going to the shops with £5 and buying the cheapest thing we could find for dinner.  My Fiancé would make me beans on toast and we’d eat it on his bed because there was no where else to sit, and it was good.  He worried that he couldn’t afford a nice meal or little presents but I just loved spending time with him, we could have eaten beans on toast everyday in that freezing room, but I’d still laugh and smile because it wasn’t about the money, it was about being with the person who made me laugh and brought me happiness.

We couldn’t date like some people, neither of us had money to go out for meals or go to the cinema so we had to make do with other activities.  He’d come to mine and teach me how to play games on his Xbox, I would go to his and watch films and it never got boring. Neither of us could drive and when there was no money for a bus or taxi, he’d walk 6 miles to see me for a couple of hours and it was the most amazing thing anyone had ever done for me.  I’ve had money spend on me in other relationships but it never made me feel as good as knowing, someone would walk 6 miles to see me.

Moving in together finally, we got as much as we could second hand.  We couldn’t afford fancy furniture or expensive technology but we made a home for ourselves with what we could find and even though, the furniture didn’t match and colours clashed, it was the best feeling to wake up to the person I loved every morning.

Stress over money has been a big source of most of our arguments and at times, it frustrates us to the point we fall out and don’t talk to each other for hours.  It’s been hard and sad at times, seeing other people living so easily and spending money like it doesn’t matter. Having little or no money is a horrible place to be but it also makes you realise what’s important, it makes you appreciate the small things, it makes you thankful for everything you do have and stops you taking things for granted.  Money would make life easier and I’m sure buying myself things would make me happy but I’d rather be poor and have love than be rich and lonely.  It doesn’t matter that I can’t afford luxuries or treats because everyday, I have someone here who will make me laugh and make me forget about my worries.  I have love and acceptance, which to me is way more important than money.