Tag Archives: depression

To go or not to go …

Today I am anxious. I have had slow growing anxiety over the past couple of days and now it’s reached the level where I am lying in bed because I’m not sure how best to manage it.

Those of you that have read past posts of mine will know that I have had some tricky situations with friendships and relationships over past months. One friend (I will call her Di) has disappeared from my life completely after a couple of intense years of friendship. Following the final ‘split’ I gave up alcohol. It was one of the ways a managed the whole fall out. I’m not going to go into the in and outs of what happened, mainly because to this day I’m not really sure. There was lots of made up stuff about me which hurt a great deal but I don’t know why she said it or behaved as she did.

Anyways, tonight I am attending a mutual friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. This friend (B), I have known for 40 years. I met Di through her. I haven’t discussed Di with her or even so much as mentioned her name in 3 months. They are exceptionally close. I know Di and all her friends will be there later. I know I’m going to be catapulted back to teenage angst and playground ‘mean girl’ bullying. I know I could just not go, but my long standing friend B would be sad about that. My family (brother and parents) were invited but can’t attend. My husband will come with me so I’m not totally alone (although Di and her ‘was married but now estranged’ boyfriend hate him too for some unknown reason). The whole situation is petty, ridiculous and frankly boring but seeing her and having to stand in a room and be pointedly ignored fills me with dread.

Luckily I’m not drinking which means I won’t lose control and say something I’ll regret. Plus I’ll be driving and we can show our faces and then quickly get the hell out of dodge. Still, I’ve told myself all this over and over but it doesn’t help me. People keep saying it’ll be fine but I’m tipping into unmanageable anxiety which then descends into ‘switch off’ and disengage because I can’t handle how it feels.

Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually described my anxiety and subsequent low mood as it happens, in real time. Blogging is good for that, right? I have an appointment to get to in an hour’s time and I’ve already tried to think up excuses how to avoid going. It’s a work based commitment but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to just stay here, in the safety of my bedroom!! What to do? Should I not go this evening, just bail out totally which will stop the anxiety. Or is that not facing difficult emotions and pure avoidance.

Before sobriety I would drink. I’d start at 5 ish to give me courage. I’d be totally wasted by the end of the night but I’d survive it. I don’t have that crutch now so I need to either not go or find a way through this. I think writing it down has helped a little. I will go to my work appointment. I’ll force myself to achieve at least that today. One thing at a time.

Agh! I hate anxiety and I just want it to leave me alone.

Claire xx

I’m doing ok!

3 months of sober life!

Not going to say much other than thanks to all of you who over the past 3 months commented and liked and supported and are just plain amazing! It isn’t easy and some days just feel like the pits. BUT it’s (close eyes if you don’t like bad language) fucking fantastic to be in this position right now. I would not and never want to be anywhere else!!!

Thank you all

Love Claire xxx

Fade to grey

Earlier today I read a post by Ashley at mentalhealthathome.org focusing on major depression and the impact it can have on someone’s day to day living. It’s a beautifully brave post, honestly expressing her experiences. Ashley’s words led to a moment of personal reflection and I wanted to share how ‘depression’ felt for me.

At its worst my depression probably lasted a year, maybe two, with a brief reprieve in the middle. It didn’t feel like I’d imagined depression was supposed to feel. Yep, I was a person that ‘judged’ depression. I’m ashamed to admit it but as they say, ignorance (although stupid) can be bliss. As Ashley describes, depression is not just about feeling ‘sad’. It’s so much more and affects individuals differently. I was unaware that the awful, soul destroying feelings I was experiencing were all part of the label ‘depression’.

For me, by far the worst aspect was the complete disengagement and disinterest in life. All colour gone, not even black and white. Just grey. No spark, no pleasure, not even a flutter of excitement. Added to the this was the debilitating feeling of not giving a shit. About anything or anyone. Seriously, even writing that down makes my chest tighten and triggers an overwhelming urge to go hug my boys. I was no longer there, I had disappeared.

Ashley lives daily with that feeling and talks about dealing with the grief of maybe never finding that person again. I am currently not depressed and I definitely have all the colour back in my life. That being said, I am not the person I was. She has also gone, as Ashley’s old self did, never to return. I am not sad about that. I like who I am now. Depression has changed me, for the better I think. I have a greater understanding of others and a compassion that wasn’t there before. I thank the universe on a daily basis that I feel well and I hope I never stop appreciating rainbows in all their colourful glory.

Claire xx

Claire’s Disappointment

Hmmm 🤔 I have been self reflecting (or is that self obsessing?) this past few days. I’m not sure it’s been particularly helpful and my brain is a bit addled with thoughts and questions. Forgive me if this post is disjointed and incoherent. I haven’t been drinking, honest! It is also likely to be long and wordy so if you bail now I totally understand. 😉

I’m a 47 year old woman. I work 30 hrs a week in a professional career and I would say I’ve been successful (as far as the NHS allows you to be these days). I have two boys and I am, on the whole, a good mum. I manage a home, the bills, the cooking and food (mostly) and a husband (or does he manage me?). I have a wide social circle that includes good friends (and some not so good but I’m sorting that out!). Why then do I become overwhelmed with crazy feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and fear of being let down? Answers on a postcard. Just kidding – you don’t have my address thank goodness 😅

Anyway, some ‘know it all’ keeps coming up with possible reasons or subtle suggestions as to why this might be happening. Sure enough, when I read up about them I find that this person could, in fact, be spot on.

Today I’m thinking about the feelings of disappointment and not feeling good enough. I hate disappointment. I hate feeling it myself and I hate feeling I’ve disappointed others. Letting someone down is soul destroying for me and I live in fear of being let down. It all ties in with not quite cutting it. Why? Let me see ….

My mum, God love her, has always lived her life as a ‘what if?’, ‘if only’ and ‘we should have’ type of person. I can find it hard to decide what to do sometimes because I’m scared I’ll wish I had done something else and the chosen event/activity will be ruined. This has improved for me but sadly not so much for mum. She’s proud of me but there has always been an undercurrent of ‘I wish Claire had done a different job’, ‘if only she’d married someone more outgoing or wealthy’ etc etc. Sometimes it’s not such a subtle undercurrent with direct statements like “you and your brother went to a good schools and neither of you have done particularly well” and “perhaps don’t wear baggy tops, they can make you look bigger”.

My dad, well he didn’t really have many expectations. I was a girl so why would he? He clearly adored me, his little princess, but all the focus was on my brother to be the sporty champ. Ironically he was never interested in sport and preferred the world of the IT geek! I tried every sport going to prove myself worthy (I just realised that now btw). Over the years he’s mellowed in his opinions of women, a little. He’s proud and very surprised that I’ve achieved all I have. Please don’t misunderstand, my parents are amazing and it’s not my intention to blame them. They have supported me through so much and we none of us are perfect. I love them, I’m just trying to make some sense of this.

In secondary school I had a ‘best friend’. We were thick as thieves for the entire 7 years. She was amazing. She was sporty, beautiful, very clever, popular, cool and loved by all. I was her ‘side kick’. Seriously, I was! She’d get invited to parties and had to beg people to include me. Sometimes they refused. Boys fell in love with her and I might end up with their mate chatting to me if I was lucky! Same at university. I had two girlfriends who were stunning and popular and had a string of men after them. I was the ‘ugly’ friend but a good laugh. Indeed, about 5 men have dumped or left me because they ‘preferred’ one of my friends. Some even got to know me just to get closer to my mates. Don’t feel sorry for me. I was a late bloomer!!!

There are other events that have happened. Some very traumatic and not for this post, but again, all contributing to general disappointment, not feeling good enough and being ‘let down’.

So I guess my period of reflection has allowed me to understand what the feelings are that trigger anxiety and where some of them may have their roots. Now I just have to work out what I do with the feelings when they pop up. Or maybe I do nothing, let them be and accept them. Easier said than done but definitely easier when you are sober! I read something earlier though that I think is important for me to remember:

“people around you won’t disappear or leave just because you’re feeling and showing your emotions in an authentic and OK way”.

Love Claire xx

Tangled again!

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. I’ve had moments of feeling totally at peace with lovely feelings of contentment and happiness and then suddenly it goes.

The family have been sick but are all recovered now. One of our guinea pigs died .. he was only 2 and my 12 year old has been very upset and distressed about it. I managed all that though. I was a ‘good’ mum and took care of the boys physical and emotional needs and for the first time in a long while I felt I was ‘there’ for them. It was a positive experience even though it had been a tough time. Work has been busy, with a few ‘situations’ leaving me feeling undervalued and overlooked but I’m trying to see positives in what’s going on.

Unfortunately though, as this week has drawn to a close I have felt more and more uneasy. I can’t put my finger on why. I’m not going to drink but I am kind of missing it again. It’s strange because I honestly thought I’d pushed through the ‘cravings’ and that sobriety was becoming more of a natural way of living for me. Have I been terribly naive to think I can do this forever? I don’t want to sit night after night pouring that poisonous crap down my throat. I really don’t. I’m just not sure how I feel about sobriety forever. It scares me still and I’m a bit pissed off about that.

There are so many positives that have directly come from me giving up the booze. Unbelievably great changes to my life that I have been trying to make for a long time. Why then would I even contemplate drinking again? What is wrong with me that I am unable to allow myself to be happy? You know, I’m not even sure I’m going to share this post publicly. I’m reading it back and frankly wanting to give myself a slap!

Right, Claire .. be honest with yourself! Q: How are you feeling right now? A: A bit lost and lonely. Probably edging towards the ‘anxious emotions’ more than I would like.

There, I said it. Anxiety. It’s still there. I’m not ‘cured’ and the disappointment is hard to take. I hate it, and the low mood that follows it. I want to stick my hand inside my chest and rip out that uncomfortable sensation. The worst of it is, it’s about nothing. I have nothing to be anxious about and I’m so bloody angry that it still exists and I can’t control it.

I know it’s improved and is far less than it was. I know I’ll get past it and drinking will not help matters. I know I should meditate, or have a bath, or sleep, but I just want to stamp my feet and shout ‘it’s not bloody fair’. Which I also know is totally pathetic and really very silly!

Actually, I feel slightly better for just writing it down and ‘getting it out’ so to speak. Maybe I will post this after all. This blog is about the ‘ups and downs’ of my journey and my toddler tantrums are part of the process. I will get up, out of my bed and eat. Make a cup of tea and be sociable. Spinning about in my own brain, overthinking, will not help me.

God, what a waffling, confusing post. A reflection of the current status of my brain right now maybe? Here’s hoping for clarity and calm tomorrow. 🤞🤞

Love Claire xx

Note to Claire

Dear Claire (Nov 2017 – May 2019)

I know you are feeling totally lost and pretty much alone right now. I know you can’t see a way out and this feels never ending. If I could send a letter back in time to reassure you I would. I’d promise you that it will and it does get better.

I don’t know why it happened to you, this anxiety and depression. I’ve tried and tried to pick out one occasion, one single cause, one momentous event but to no avail. There is nowhere to lay the blame and right now you are placing it firmly at your own door. Try not to do that. None of this was your fault. There were many triggers and it was a spiralling road downwards. You can’t stop something that you aren’t aware is happening. You do become aware though Claire and you begin to make changes that turn it around. So have faith in yourself and your own strength.

What would I advise? I’d definitely tell you to stay well away from a few people who appear/reappear at this time. You will invite them in with open arms because you need and crave attention and what you believe is love and friendship. It will almost destroy your self confidence and the cycle of them being there for you and then withdrawing will only serve to confuse you and undermine your self belief. Try to remember, how people treat you is more important than how much you like them. Say ‘no’ to toxic people Claire. Don’t allow them to ‘persuade’ you into situations and circumstances that you know are wrong and are not congruent with who you are inside. That mismatch increases anxiety tenfold and these people thrive on your anxiety, having control and playing the game. Losing certain people might feel like a hole in your heart but it won’t last long and is replaced by a sense of calm that will blow you away.

I would also tell you that you will find ‘true’ people. Learn to identify who they are and stop giving your heart and soul to those that aren’t ‘true’.

Give up alcohol. As soon as you feel ready, do it. Don’t waste any more time pouring the poison down your throat. For every ‘buzz’ it gives you, it takes away something so much more important, part of you. The internal battle you are constantly experiencing, where your outsides don’t match your insides, that disappears as soon as you remove booze from your life. I know you won’t believe me but giving it up brings so many unexpected pleasures and positives to your life.

I’d tell you to give yourself a break. To sleep when you need to, to let the house get messy, to allow yourself time to heal. Take the antidepressants. This happened but you are not a failure. You’ve made some shit choices and decisions along the way and recognising that will be the moment you start to pull yourself out, the moment the fog clears and the moment Claire begins to reappear.

More than anything I’d tell you that you are a good person with some amazing qualities and that a few mistakes do not define you. Forgive yourself. I, your future Claire, am proud of you and all you have achieved. Hang on in there … this too shall pass.

Love Claire (Jan 2020) xxx

9 weeks sober (64 days)

What comes first? Anxiety or depression? (second attempt!)

(I had to re- post as for some reason my previous attempt didn’t allow comments. I’m hoping this works!!)

I know from all my reading and research that they are closely related and one can trigger the other. I also know from my own personal experience that 8 weeks on (YES!! 8 WHOLE WEEKS! … sorry couldn’t help myself) my own depression has lifted and my anxiety, though not completely gone, is definitely reduced and manageable (mostly). I am a little fearful when I write that here because it feels like it’s tempting fate but hey ho, it’s the truth in the present moment and I’m trying to be more ‘present’. I don’t know if I can find out the answer but I wanted to process it because it’s important to me and my overall progress and self awareness.

Why is it important for me?

I’m not really sure. It’s definitely not that I want to find an excuse to drink again. I don’t think that’s the case anyway. It’s more that I have always had an internal struggle accepting my diagnosis of anxiety and depression. I was all “No way, not me. You got it wrong! I’m just tired, fed up, stressed, lonely …. anything but A & D. I’m not ‘that’ sort of person. I’m tough, I’m upbeat, I’m a ‘can do’ woman”. I was soooo angry and I flatly refused to accept it, although I did acknowledge it. I told people about it and I dealt with it. That’s what I do. Problem … sort it. I refused antidepressants; no way, no how. I had counselling and I was going to get better. 8 months later, 2 stone lighter and still engaged with toxic people and unhelpful situations. I was drinking more than I ever had before. There was no choice, I ‘gave in’ .. antidepressants it was.

Meds

I took them, I cried, I was off work for 3 days and I felt like a complete and utter failure. I set a target, 6 months and then no more. I didn’t drink for two weeks because that was sensible and advised. I still had counselling and I didn’t make any other changes. The alcohol consumption once again increased. My behaviours remained the same. My self esteem was nil but I ‘appeared’ to be improving. 6 months later (and actually spiralling into more dodgy, toxic friendships and relationships) I came off antidepressants and my counselling had finished.


That was a year ago. For the next 5 months I rapidly went downhill. My weight was better but I wasn’t sleeping and I was drinking fairly heavily. I was anxious and sliding into depression. I was disappearing and self medicating with wine and unhealthy interactions.

The past 6 months

In June I started different antidepressants. They suited me better. I went back to counselling and I began to examine what was going on. Sure I was only skimming the very surface but it was a shift. I still drank – A LOT! The meds worked but in truth I still wasn’t well. Counselling had stopped. I could go either way. It felt like balancing on a tightrope and any minute I’d fall into the abyss. (God I’m so dramatic 🙄)

Alcohol

On November 17th, after a few weeks of reading and stalking the sober blogs, I gave up alcohol. It changed everything. It opened up my life again and allowed me to ‘feel’. Bit by bit I have reduced my reliance on toxic relationships and I am learning to like myself once again. I always drank .. from 17 yrs old onwards. I have always been a ‘big’ drinker and alcohol has always been a big part of my life. Did it cause my A&D? Or did my mental health issues lead me to rely on alcohol more and then that made my recovery more difficult?

What now?

My concern is this. If I stop taking my antidepressants will I regress or was giving up alcohol the catalyst for improvement in my mental health and the meds are neither here nor there? What if I stop them, I feel awful and want to drink again .. and can’t stop myself? That scares the shit out of me. Don’t worry, I have no intention of coming off meds any time soon but how do I know they are helping? Their impact was minimal compared to the impact of becoming sober. How will I ever know when is the right time to take the risk? So many questions and I suspect there is no answer. I don’t want to take antidepressants indefinitely but the past two plus years have really been a challenge and I never want to go back there again.


If you have persevered to the end of this post then you deserve a bloody medal. I felt I needed to put down what has been churning around in my head for a while so I appreciate you sticking with it. If you skipped to the end, that’s fine too.
Hugs to all you lovely bloggers. My very own ‘sober tribe’ ❤️ 🤗


Love Claire xx
(8 weeks)