Going AWOL

I’ve been thinking, since the post I wrote about depression, about long- and short-term happiness, both of which I’ve blogged about before, and which you should prioritise at any given moment. The depression thing has taken off since I last wrote – I’m now weepy all of the time, and the thought of using this blog to write about sex, love, boys, or anything that’s fun seems completely out of reach.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend. I cried; she fed me milky tea and tried to make me feel better. Actually, she was full of great advice: find a new GP, one who understands mental illness, make sure they’re near work, so you can go often, and make sure you always see that doctor, not whoever happens to be available. With their help, try different anti-depressants, until you find the ones that work, both in terms of maximum mental health benefits and minimal side effects. Be kind to yourself. (I keep saying that, right?’)

Those are the things that I know will help me: but I also think it would help to step aside from the long-term goals for a bit and focus on creating a life which is happy and healthy, and where I make the most of the people around me and what they can offer.

It seems that inadvertently in my blog posts I’ve been putting across the message that what I definitely want from life is children with a long-term partner. In reality, I think that yes, that’s possibly what I want, but not definitely – right now I value my space and solitude way too much to want a long-term partner in my life. Plus, even if I do decide that’s what I want, it doesn’t have to happen by 30 – that’s just society’s fucked-up view of the timeline to which women should live their lives.

One of the things I do want to do this year is take back control of my life – one of my worst habits is looking at a diary that contains free weekends and either booking something in for all of them, or hyperventilating. As a result, last year I missed a shitload of stuff I would have loved to have done because I’d put stuff in place just to stop the weekends being empty – but an empty weekend isn’t going to kill me.

The other thing I desperately need to stop doing is sabotaging my relationships – questioning things; starting arguments; being negative – just because, as a therapist once told me, when those things do inevitably lead to the relationship breaking down, yes I get the satisfaction of proving to myself that my deeply-held belief – that I’m completely unlovable – is correct, but that satisfaction is pretty hollow compared to what I’ve given up in the process.

So, starting from now I’m going to stop sabotaging my life – I actually can’t remember the last time I went out and got drunk with a big group of people, but I’m going to stop feeling guilty for not doing it. I’ll see friends when I want to, and give myself peace and quiet when I need it. I’ll spend more time doing the things I love, like reading and writing, WI meetings and craft workshops, even if those activities are predominantly female and aren’t going to help me meet a man (thanks mum!). I’d like to keep having fun with the boy and not destroy the time we do have together by over-thinking the future – that one though is slightly less in my control at the moment.

So, what does that mean for the blog? Honestly, I’m not sure. Right now, I’m so low that I feel like every post is at risk of being a rehash of this one – and that’s the kind of writing that’s best kept out of the public domain, due to the fact it’ll end up boring everybody stupid.

Alison Tyler has kindly agreed to let me review her new novel, The Delicious Torment, on February 2nd, as part of her blog tour, so I’ll be back for that. Until then, I think posts might be somewhat more infrequent than they’ve been thus far. We’ll see, I guess.

Thanks for reading up till now x

It’s ok to be happy with a calm life

Writing about depression consistently loses me Twitter followers. I don’t care – the ‘of sorts’ part of my blog name was always designed to allow me to write about other things that are important to me, and that’s exactly what I plan to do in this post. I wrote a shorter post on this earlier, but I’ve since deleted it, because I have so much more I want to say on the subject. If you don’t like it, go right ahead and unfollow.

I hate New Year, and this year was no different. I find the pressure of statements like ‘2014 is going to be so much better than last year’ almost unbearable, especially because depression always seems to catch up with me in the weeks after Christmas. This year, I should have known it was on its way. A few days after Christmas I was in a restaurant with my parents. They made a slightly critical comment and I burst into tears. The weepiness lasted the rest of the evening.

My parents are not great in this respect: they tell me repeatedly that I’m not actually depressed because my depression is always triggered by specific, upsetting events. There’s some truth in this – it often is – but part of the reason they think that is because often when I’m low I avoid telling them, partly because I know they don’t really get it. 

What really upsets me though, is knowing that depressive episodes are almost always triggered by people I care about. Sometimes it’s my friends, more often it’s the boys in my life. A couple of years back, I was pretty involved in a complicated situation with a depressed male friend and ironically, as he recovered, I succumbed to it more and more. He ended up offering to pay for me to have therapy, thinking I was resisting it because I couldn’t afford it. Nothing could have been further from the truth: I was resisting it because I couldn’t handle the stigma that came with being depressed. He was lucky I refused his offer though: to date it would have cost him more than £2k in therapy sessions.

I’m slightly more comfortable with the stigma surrounding mental illness now (good therapy will do that), but less comfortable with the way it’s treated. Therapy is risky – I did have a great therapist, but when I moved halfway across the country I had to find a new one, and I’m pretty sure that in the six sessions I saw her for she did way more harm than good. 

Anti-depressants make me even more antsy. I take them, on and off, but as soon as I start to feel better, I stop. This is a pretty irresponsible thing to do: they’re known to have side-effects, including mood swings, as part of the come down, which is why you’re supposed to reduce the dosage slowly and under a doctor’s supervision. Sheer bloody-mindedness means I never do: as soon as the depression subsides I get resentful about reliance on drugs to control my emotions, bitter about the fact that my emotional range is so curtailed and really, really fucked-off about the weight I inevitably gain when I’m taking them. And so I stop, just like that. And just as day follows night, several weeks later I’ll have a day just like today, where I get up, shower, start to cry, and have to go back to bed because everything else feels like too much of a struggle. Today, I thought I might make gingerbread. Then I thought of the mess it will inevitably make and couldn’t face it. The same goes for cooking meals. Drying my hair is too much effort. Watching TV gives me too much time to think. Basically, I just want to be asleep, but I’m not tired enough to get there. It’s on days like this that I wish anti-depressants could be given intravenously, just so their effect would be more immediate.

None of this stops me laying in to other people though: I’ll do anything, anything, to turn the self-hatred outwards for a bit, so god forbid that anyone should say or do anything that hurts or upsets me – I can rant and rave for hours because that’s what’s going on inside my head anyway. 

But as much as that’s me saying It’s not you, it’s me, I can’t help but wonder if the solution is to return to the kind of single girl independence I last had around 2007, when I was doing my finals and boys were the last thing on my mind.

I’ve mentioned in a few posts that I had more to say about this post. The way Juniper describes sitting on the harbour, wiling away the hours made me wistful as hell. I used to be that girl, the girl who could sit in a bar with a glass of wine and a book, watching the world go by and not fretting about the present, or worrying about the future. In recent years, I’ve lost the ability to do that – now I always seem to be checking my phone for messages from an AWOL boy, or worrying about the fact that I’m not doing super-exciting stuff with other people.

Depression has taken away my ability to enjoy my own company, and that’s the shittest thing of all.