Living with a mood disorder

The Opening of the Eyes

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The last twelve months haven’t been the easiest for me to live with; I don’t think a lot of people could have handled what I have and continued with life.  I’m not trying to big myself up about how resilient I am, but things that have happened haven’t been your run of the mill day to day challenges.  It’s going through these difficulties that leave you in a position to pull back, walk away and then be content with what life gives you.  If there are no expectations then there’s no disappointment, so why place expectations upon yourself?  That was until I got speaking to a dear friend who has opened my eyes to the world that I pretty much gave up hope with; he has allowed me to see that there is a place for me in this thing called life and I can make it what I want it to be.

So a quick run down of what has made me withdraw from the world:

  • Fibromyalgia diagnosis – that in itself is bad enough, but when you get talking to people who have fibro/ME/CFS you start to wonder if this is accurate.  The pain and fatigue I feel is more after exertion than randomly appearing and other factors to taken into account.  So I never accepted it and I carried on with my life as before, which leads to…

  • Physical breakdown – after suffering a mental breakdown 10 years ago now (wow, time flies) I knew that this was something different.  I had pushed myself to be a good full time student at uni while carrying on working 20 hours a week, all with this new fibromyalgia diagnosis.  My body couldn’t take it anymore and one day it just failed on me.  I lay on the sofa unable to move a matter of inches to pick my phone up and ask for help, I had to ride this storm out on my own.  Which leads to…

  • Handing in my notice at work – I had to make the ultimate decision of carrying on at uni or carrying on at work.  There was no way that I could carry on doing both, neither physically or mentally, so one of them had to go.  The whole reason for going to uni was to get a career and not have to do admin for the rest of my life. Financially it will be bad while I’m at uni but it is do-able, so I handed in my notice, left work and became a full time student; which leads to…

  • Unplanned summer holidays – because of the timing of the breakdown and having to give up work I was still in recovery over the summer holidays, therefore not in the best place to find a small summer job or structured activities.  Plus I felt that I deserved a break from it all.  Which I suppose I did deserve the break, however as I have since found out me taking a break is all well and good as long as I can pick myself up after.  Luckily I had some work for my local Mind to complete, so there was something to look forward to within the depths of self loathing that occurred; which leads to…

  • Fall out with a charity close to my heart – I’ve never spoke about this publicly and I still don’t feel comfortable talking about it.  So let’s just say a charity close to my heart broke my heart; which leads to…

  • Loss of identity – I felt as though my last two years were based on lies, that this person the public see’s or reads about isn’t the real me.  It was as though the world had met my persona and didn’t know anything about me.  Which I think can be explained by a friend who says to me “I’d rather get to know Tracey and not EhOh”, strange but true.  Which leads to…

  • Rejecting work opportunities –I felt lost, dark and empty, there is no drive or motivation to achieve anything and I would be happy and content staying at home, oversleeping and watching DVD’s day in and day out.  So when I was successful with an interview for a voluntary position at a charity that provides similar service to Samaritans I wasn’t excited and happy as I should, I was full of dread and nerves wondering if I was able to carry this out.  Which leads to…

  • Difficulties at uni – assignments being handed out all over the place and no idea how to complete them.  Well, I knew how to complete them, I knew what I had to do to research, structure, plan and write the essays.  I just had this voice I my head telling me “You don’t know what you’re doing”, and sadly I agreed with it; which leads to…

  • Therapy – It’s fair to say I’ve been through all sorts of counselling/therapy etc., and sadly I couldn’t get hold of my preferred therapist when I needed him, so I ended up taking advantage of the no waiting list counselling provided at uni.  The first session done the job, though after that it felt as though she was clutching at straws to keep ‘therapy-ing’ me.  When I explained this to my disability tutor at uni she said that I’m like a wine connoisseur, though not of wine but of therapy.  S’pose that’s something I got going for me.  Which leads to…

  • Grief – The first session of uni counselling brought it out of me, I was grieving at having my heart broken by this charity.  This came as a shock to me because I had never associated the possibility of feeling grief towards anything but human/animal loss.  Though what do I do with this information now? I have found that one I know what something is, emotionally, then I can very easily move on from things.  Like being told by a friend a few weeks back that I have been triggered by something and once I knew I had been triggered all seemed well with the world.  Which leads to…

  • Christmas – I don’t do Christmas. I don’t like Christmas. It doesn’t happen in this household.  Well, it hasn’t happened since I had to rebuild my life nearly 7 years ago.  It’s not just the bad childhood memories; it’s the bad homeless memories too.  While I have people asking for me to participate in Christmas activities I find it increasingly difficult every year to wear the mask and not tell them the deep dark secrets I hold which prevent me from seeing the slightest bit of enjoyment of Christmas.

So that is really the last twelve months and there are other things that have happened which had a detrimental effect of my life but if I was to mention them here or elsewhere then it would open a massive can of worms that I really don’t want to open.  Let’s just say these other ‘unmentionables’ have also shaped my position in the mental health world/community.  I feel as though I have walked away from a lot of things this past year as I felt I was put in a position where I had no choice but to give them up.  Though I haven’t felt any inclination to make changes to ‘replace’ these lost things with something else to give my life meaning, I have become complacent with my position in the world.

That is until I got talking with a good friend about life in general, not the difficulties he and I face every day but just a good old natter about life in general.  I think that’s what has made things different; we talk about anything and everything except we rarely talk mental health.  During my recovery I have surrounded myself with people who have a mental health condition because I felt I needed to be around people who understand what I’m going through.  I’m sure you an appreciate that most of the conversations were about mental health, which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but once you reach a certain point in your recovery you need to be awakened and shown the rest of the world as well.

This is the point I am at in my recovery.  Which is something I find strange to say out loud as I have always thought my recovery is fine and dandy, life is good blah blah blah.   Though it’s not, I am still in the recovery phase and I do still have a lot to learn about myself and how to take care of myself.  How can I lead a happy and fulfilling life if I am sat comfortably in the corner watching the world go by and not taking part in things myself?  You need to take risks every now and then else you don’t know what you are actually able to achieve.

I believe that I am lucky to be in the position I currently am in the fact I am at uni, I have a really big interest of the science world and I do still have my place in the mental health world.  It’s taking the initiative and risk to pull them all together and make something of them.

This year is going to see me take risks;

  • I’m going to ensure that I stay focused at motivated at uni, looking into different ways of studying which will be most effective for me.

  • Jump in feet first with science festivals that are coming up and I have been offered volunteering opportunities nationally and the prospect of helping organise a local science groups’ events.

  • I’m going to take up that opportunity I turned down at the tail end of last year as it is still open to me, and hopefully due to the anonymity of the service I can just happily do the work without comebacks I’ve previously had.

  • I want to make sure my friends are all part of this journey and not forget about them, they are the ones who make me smile and remind me of the beauty of life.

  • I’ll appreciate the little things like watching the sunrise on the way to uni each morning or the taste of freshly ground coffee.

  • Read more books, they are valuable resources that need full love and attention.

  • And one big risk is to take part in the Superhero Run in May, which brings it’s on risks due to physical health problems and finding ways to over come them.

While this may seem like a ‘New Year, New Me’ type of blog, I can assure you it’s not – partly cause I don’t believe in making changes to your life just because it’s Jan 1st, and partly because it’s taken until now to truly reflect back on the last year.  Anyway, here goes to rebuilding my life…. again.

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