#anxiety, #escapism, #insomnia, #mentalhealth, #poetry, #sleep, #writing

Insomnia

Here I lie staring at the ceiling
I’ts dark in the room and I have the tightest feeling
engraved in my chest whilst struggling to find the right position
that will allow myself to try and transition
myself into a sleep so peaceful and sound
but we all know that is impossible and that I am bound
to listen to my mind and stay wide awake
for as long as it feels necessary until I’m forced to make
a decision about how I might deal with these issues
that continue to disrupt my wellbeing and causes me to reach for another set of tissues.

In the darkeness I fumble quietly afraid to disturb
the dreamer that lies next to me so peaceful I struggle to find the right verb
to describe my love for them despite my state
He will always be beside me, despite my pending fate.

And now I move to the living room, panicked and wide eyed
I’m tired, lack lustre and  deprived
Looking for something to distract myself so that I can pretend

to walk away from this feeling that I’m tethering at the very end

Once someone who was full of life
I look in the darkness into the hanging mirror and feel rife
with disappointment in myself and a daunting soul-less glare
I return to the bedroom to another eventide filled with the nightmare
that I daily face but so crave to forget
the feeling of exposure and anxiousness that has set
so deep in my mind that I simply cannot sleep
The insomnia is real and I soon begn to silently weep

Frustrated now I wrestle and tug at the covers that swap around me
until finally I find myself losing myself in a dream that will set me free
The secret sleeping pills I have stashed away
have finally worked their magic and my thoughts are forced to obey
the orders that the sedative hypnotics have forced them to comply
and as I drift off to the unknown a motionless tear escapes my eye.

 

 

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#anxiety, #breakthrough, #change, #depression, #depressionstigma, #mentalhealth

Let’s Talk about Male Anxiety.

As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety I really believe in those light at the end of the tunnel moments. Yes these moments might be temporary, yes they may soon feel as though they might not as well have happened, but ultimately we should try and cherish them in as positive a light as possible.

So what qualifies as one of these moments? It might be that you are offered therapy alternatives; new medication to try or simply feel ready to leave your house for a day and allow yourself to be one again with Society.

Whatever might be a stepping stone for you- embrace it. I think one of the biggest misinterpretations people have of those that suffer from mental health problems is that stigma that we refuse to look on the bright side of life; we lack the muster to want to get up and get on with things. This is far from the truth and of course we as sufferers know there is so much more to it than that very broad and closed mind interpretation.

Recently I was listening to a National radio show where they have daily debates and call ins. Today’s topic was “Male Anxiety.” Despite myself being female, I was fully tuned into this conversation and eager to hear the response from this opportunity to discuss the issue further. In the UK men are statistically twice as less likely to suffer from anxiety than women. However, in 2014 men’s suicide rates were significantly higher than women at 16.8% compared to 5.2% for women (sourced from Samaritans).

Although there has been a decrease since 2014, the female suicide rate is at it’s highest since 2011. In America it’s a different story with white males accounting for 7 out of 10 suicides (AFSP, 2014).

So here I was listening to the call in. Within minutes the host said that the lines had practically crashed with men who wanted to discuss their experiences. From men who had served in the army who were discussing their Post Traumatic Stress Disorders to those who were angry that there was such a lack of support for men sufferers to reach out and discuss their problems; all of their stories boded for the same categorical response: there was a fundamental stigma for men in particular in reaching out and talking about anxiety.

One particular caller really dominated the dial in, however. He was as he described, a now successful business man in his fifties who had lived with anxiety for as long as he could remember. Prior to setting up his Business, his wife had been diagnosed with cancer about five years ago and he found himself and his family in a financially straining situation. “I remember having about five pounds in my pocket and thinking about how we were going to fed the kids.” Presently his wife is in remission and he has set himself up for a wealthy life, beautiful house, happy children, not having to worry about anything financially and yet he said “I still have this crippling anxiety.” He spoke frankly about how it affected him on a daily basis, how he had predominantly set up his own business so that he would be able to work from home.

Probably the highlight of the show came when the host said that this man should feel proud and inspired to speak more about his anxiety to his doctor and to his peers to broaden the understanding of the issue and encourage others to speak out. But the man was less than enthused by this suggestion claiming that he was accustomed to hiding his anxiety from others; the sheer thought of his peers knowing about his issues caused him increased anxiety. How, in his words, could such an established businessman confess to suffering from such crippling problems?

And so we have come to the root of the issue. Male anxiety sufferers are less likely to come forward and speak about their issues frankly than women.Although this man had indeed called in and voiced his personal experience, he had not actually seeked the help and advice on how to combat his disorder.

Why is this? Is it because it has been drilled into Society as a whole that men should be the protecters, the providers, not the sufferers? Why are women more likely to delve into their feelings and talk about them than men?

We can pull all of the statistics we want from various websites, but put simply these are useless in predicting accurately how many sufferers there are basing it on just the numbers of people that have come forward and started talking about their issues. And that is pretty frightening, knowing that there are people still out there that think or know they might have a problem, but are scared to admit that it might start to be getting the better of them. They simply continue to power through with sometimes devastating effects.

There seems to be a clear barrier between women and male sufferers and we need to break down here. Neither men or women are the weaker party. Both are capable from suffering from exactly the same symptoms of anxious behaviours and therefore there should not be any shame in admitting so. The fear of speaking to someone face to face can be combated by talking to someone over the phone for example; writing a blog; writing a diary. If you feel uncomfortable about seeking help with your issues, perhaps a start would be to break down your feelings on paper.

Personally I have started to see glimpses of a breakthrough from the stigma surrounding male anxiety. An example would be when I wanted to search for local “Meet Up” groups for mental health. Of the ones that I found I would say that around 3 in 5 were organized by men who had suffered from mental health problems themselves prooving that actually not only had they suffered from issues themselves, they were willing to share their experiences and help other people.

Furthermore, more National news channels are starting to report stories on the stigma surrounding Mental Health issues predominantly in Males. There have been more documentaries aired on television discussing problems in coming forward and talking about issues. One recently aired on the BBC about the difficulties in racial cultures where mental problems seem to particularly not be allowed to exist.

With all of this being said the key thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are other sufferers out there and this number is increasing. There are discreet avenues that you can take to voice and talk about your problems and there are ways and methods you can take to combat fears surrounding the stigma around anxiety.

This brings me back to those light at the end of the tunnel moments. Even when things look dire and it seems simply impossible to get your head around your situation. Sometimes accepting the situation and researching ways in which you can go about improving your way of life can give you a glimpse ahead to a positive future outlook.

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River

Have you heard about the river nearby where there are whispers of gifts and remedies
They suggested it to me one day when I was thinking of dark extremities
Through pain and sadness I forced myself to see the light
By watching the waves as they folded themselves neatly, glistening bright

Have you heard about the river that wove it’s way around
The area it which it turned the corner you jumped at the slightest sound
But still you went down to visit the river to watch the ducks glide by
Their feathers shone like silver in the darkness while they grew weary of the persistent dragonfly.

Have you heard about the river where the lonely girl sat and stared
All but one passed on by without a glance except the one that stopped and glared
Memorized by the waves, they refused to leave her eye
How perfect was this vision in front of her, she daren’t say goodbye

Have you heard about the river and it’s power to hypnotize?
After a period you hear yourself calm… but it’s all a big disguise
Don’t be fooled by the power of the river it still lacks that empathy
But whilst starting deep in the river there is certainly a different symphony 

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#anxiety, #breakthrough, #depression, #mentalhealth

Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

via Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

When I think of the word “breakthrough” I relate it to something positive. This word is used often to describe the work of Scientists.

” Scientists at Sligo IT breakthrough against Superbugs” Any reader would think- great! Excellent, this is positive news.

Google defines a breakthrough as a sudden, dramatic change and important discovery or development. Therefore surely for those suffering from anxiety or depression there are breakthrough moments it would seem.

After an episode of depression I suffered around five years ago when I dropped out of University, my breakthrough moment was when I re-applied to a different University that was closer to home after 6 months. My mind was still whispering viciously to me that I was a quitter despite my application and my anxiety forced me to accept that yes it could all still go as horribly wrong as it had done previously…however, I had had my own version of a mini-breakthrough, a chance and an opportunity to have a second go at accomplishing something great. I graduated with a 2:1 three years later.

It’s important for those that are suffering from anxiety and depression to appreciate the personal “breakthrough” moments that they achieve. Sure we are not scientists, but we are still capable of achieving what, in our minds, is the impossible. It is this reflection that encourages us to embrace daily life and attempt to clamber out of the black hole we find ourselves in.

Now in the present day and having suffered a particular nasty backlash from the big black dog; a breakthrough to me is getting myself out of the house for the afternoon for a couple of hours to normal things. Go shopping, search for a recipe to cook later on, buy supplies to clean the house- everything normal people do every day but convincing yourself to get out of the pit of self pity is sometimes a bloody breakthrough moment in itself.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough of all is acknowledging our feelings and starting to talk about them. For me the best way to do this is through writing, speaking to others, sometimes art helps.

Don’t get me wrong there are times when it feels like nothing will help but by having a pen and paper around you or having the number of someone you can call (or even the number of someone you don’t particularly know but will listen to your story) sometimes this might help.

So once you have the strength to find that breakthrough moment; cut yourself some slack and treasure it. For when/if you go through a time where you mind need to take it out of the memory bank, you will remember and remind yourself that all can’t be lost.

 

 

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#anxiety, #change, #depression, #depressionstigma, #mentalhealth, #samaritans

Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Spiral into Depression

One of my favourite memories of childhood was when we used to get together at Christmas. One of the key traditions is to share some bread with one another and grant one another well wishes before the meal for the New Year. It’s times like these that you really appreciate what you have. You are grateful for family, life. You know full well that others may not have the same blessings and you don’t take it for granted.

About a month ago, I can honestly say that I was a different person to the one I am today. People change daily; they decide they don’t want to be in a relationship anymore, they want to change their job, they move to a new house. We are illusioned to believe that just our circumstances change but often we change with them.

I have recently had a change in circumstances but not one that I would consider to be of the positive kind. I realised I was suffering from depression.

Perhaps it sounds overly-dramatic when I say that it felt like someone had just flicked a switch in my head and BAM! There it was: Depression. But that is how it felt.

When I think about the qualities I had I would have described myself as someone that was sassy, fun, a bit of handful with her opinions but nevertheless I worked hard and I played hard with friends and family.

Weekends were spent hiking, walking the dog, going shopping, cooking and spending evenings with friends enjoying perhaps one glass of wine too many. Days were spent working hard at my high pressure job in the City. Earning money to go on exciting holidays, city breaks, booking that cottage for New Years Eve with my girlfriends.

Fast forward to the present day and I am an irrational, anxious, dangeous person to myself and to others around me. I’ve turned off my phone. I’ve cancelled any plans that I had. An upcoming holiday that I had been looking forward to now seemed like an actual nightmare of an idea. I am fearful and vulnerable.

Unfortunately I’ve never been a patient person. Perhaps that is why I fit in so seemingly nicely into the job I have in the City. I worked hard, harder than I probably should have at times. “Get this sorted now!” No problem. “Has the Client got back from the email you sent an hour ago?” I’ll chase them. “Sorry but you are going to have to stay late again tonight to sort this” I’ll cancel my plans. “I’m struggling I need help” I’ll fix it.

Yes yes yes yes yes. This is reality. We need to be flexible and eager to please to succeed. That goody- goody attitude I had a school; careful not to tread on any egg shells; has transferred itself over to my work life. I struggle to say no but more importantly I don’t want to say no. There is no such thing as boundaries. You just get on with it.

Depression overrides your ability to function in every day life. Critics might argue you are choosing to not get out of bed in the morning.; you are choosing to be ignorant and not talk to anyone and communicate effectively. But what happens when still do feel able to communicate just in relation to your illness?

Every day for the past couple of weeks I have called the Samaritans free phone line to speak to someone. Some days I have called twice a day and spent consecutively an hour per conversation pouring out my heart to a volunteer. I am in awe of their ability to listen, to prompt me to continue in my story, to encourage me to call back despite taking up an hour of their time. These people are like gold dust. They have good kind hearts, they are not selfish. The are listeners and listeners alone but they seem to be the most effective and relative source of support above anything else.

When I walked into my doctor’s surgery a week ago in the walk in, I felt uncomfortable. Not only did I make it clear how low I was feeling, in no short space of time they jumped on the opportunity to provide me with medication- something that I have tried before and am strongly against. I had the most adverse reactions, but also the dangerous thought of having access to these subscriptions pills in their numbers whilst I was so low was damaging to my self control. I was capable of doing harm to myself. “Unfortunately there is really nothing else we can suggest at this point other than the contact number for local counselling service.

I haven’t named the counselling service as my aim is not to come onto a blog and rant about a service that does inevitably help people with depression- I am simple outlining my personal experience. How it works is that you call a number and state you would like to access the service. You are then given an appointment time and date for one of the counselors to call you back and carry out an assessment. This can take up to two weeks and is often provided during the lunchtime period (or so this is the time that was allocated to me on two occasions- assuming this is when counselors break from sessions).

After an assessment has been carried out this then puts you on the waiting list. The first time I reached out to the service I received my first appointment within a month and half. The problem with this is that the appointments are often carried out during the day time. Earliest 08:00am and latest approximately 17:00pm. My point is- the process is lengthly and exhausting.

For someone who knows that they can benefit from speaking with someone and wants to reach out to get help- this is frustrating and a waiting game. Moreover when you receive confirmation of an appointment- you find yourself in the predicament that it conflicts with work commitments and the whole saga of having to explain a weekly appointment to your superior/HR. Quite frankly “Sorry, I’m actually verging on the edge of having a complete mental breakdown- I need an hour off every week from work to make my appointment” doesn’t really make for an appetizing discussion. This in itself makes me anxious.

After the last time I came back to my doctor’s for a follow up appointment- I spoke to her about this. “Yes” she agreed. “I will admit that the service is not necessarily user friendly when it comes to people that work full time.” This stuck with me for a long time afterwards. Ultimately it felt like you had to borderline decide if you wanted to work or if you wanted to receive treatment for free and this is something I still struggle to understand. It brought me back to think of all the kind Samaritans I had spoken to recently and how it was possible that they were available to speak with on a rolling basis and yet when it came to providing treatment this was a whole different kettle of fish.

Perhaps I am naive in my approach- of course I understand that treatment costs and accompanying that, the number of individuals that suffer from depression is constantly increasing. Despite this, I still feel silent fury and despair for other sufferers and indeed for myself when I think that this is the reality of what we have to contend with when trying to combat our inner demons.

I’d love to one day be in a healthy state of mind and somehow provide a service similar to Samaritans whereby people can come in for a cup of tea and a chat when they are feeling really down, just to be able to speak with like minded people that have suffered themselves and can relate to the daily struggles that prevent them from living fulfilled lives- in the meantime perhaps starting and writing this blog will help me concentrate on moving forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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