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Something meaningful

Peer support training helped me to take the next stage into recovery and gave me the confidence I needed to volunteer. It was well delivered and gave me a way to fill my day with something meaningful.

Training became invaluable

The peer mentor training has given me a greater insight into the whole concept of mentoring. Also, it became a stepping stone to encourage me to want to set up my own group where the knowledge from the training became invaluable.

When the memory fades.

I have been suffering with depression since my late teens/early twenties. I did not know it was depression until my mid twenties, and then in my early thirties I was told it is actually bipolar disorder that I have been suffering with.

For me, two of the most worrying things that happen during the difficult times, aside… Continue readingI have been suffering with depression since my late teens/early twenties. I did not know it was depression until my mid twenties, and then in my early thirties I was told it is actually bipolar disorder that I have been suffering with.

For me, two of the most worrying things that happen during the difficult times, aside from the suicidal thoughts and feelings of being worthless and useless, is, 1. my memory goes out of the window and 2. my behaviour becomes slightly erratic. I tend to start doing things completely in the spur of the moment or I cannot remember locking the front door thirty seconds ago.
The two things combined can make social situations really difficult, trying to remember if I locked all the windows or did I turn the iron off after I ironed my clothes. If you combined these two things with being anxious about social situations in the first place, then it can make even just leaving the house a living nightmare.

Sometimes I don't see things coming until the strange behaviour starts, clicking the button on the car key to open the front door of the house and thinking “why wont this door open” or looking in the fridge for a carrier bag and saying to myself “where are all the carrier bags, I thought we had loads”, are just two examples of the things I have done during the start of a recent downward turn.

I really fear that one day I might forget something really important that would cause untold trouble.
As a result of this I have developed OCD, everything is checked and then checked again and just to be safe checked one last time and certain objects around the house have to be in certain places before I am satisfied that I'm not going to burn the house down or that the house is safe and secure before I leave.

I have, however, found three coping mechanisms that help me no end when things are starting to go bad. I have started to go to the gym, healthy body, healthy mind and all that. The second one is my love of astronomy. Standing in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution, no noises or people about like in a town or city centre, just me, my telescope and the universe. Realising how far away our nearest neighbours are in the solar system or just how big the universe actually is, really helps to put everything into perspective.
And the third thing is reading. Keeping my mind active helps to sharpen things up, and getting buried in a good book is a great way for me to keep my memory from going astray, imagining the descriptions in a book being played out in my mind is a great thing to keep sharp.

Sometimes, these things do not always work. Some days, I just want to keep the curtains closed and stay locked in my bedroom where the world can’t get at me and I don't have to worry about social situations or if I have forgotten to do something.

Then there are the times when everything is fine. Nothing to worry about, the OCD dies down a little bit and social situations are easier to deal with.

But in the back of my mind I'm always expecting something to come out of the blue, something that will cause my memory to fade again.

Website: https://aghostinthestorm.wordpress.com/

Looking into the future

One year ago I couldn't see past one day now I am looking ahead into the future with confidence and self-belief

Understanding anxiety

I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder a couple of years ago but, like most people will tell you, you can suffer from something for a long time before it’s actually recognised as a diagnosable illness.

I remember begging to stay home from school because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through my maths… Continue readingI was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder a couple of years ago but, like most people will tell you, you can suffer from something for a long time before it’s actually recognised as a diagnosable illness.

I remember begging to stay home from school because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through my maths class without feeling my chest tighten and my heart pound into my throat. I remember having to sit close to an exit in exams in case I needed to speed out of the room and hyperventilate. I remember almost having to leave college because my anxiety became so bad that, for a long period of time, I couldn’t bring myself to enter classrooms.

Thankfully, through the help of medication, I managed to make it through four years of university with very little trouble. Sure, sometimes I felt sick, sometimes I had to take a minute away from everybody and calm myself down. But I did it. I graduated with a first class undergraduate degree, and a distinction graded postgraduate degree, despite feeling, just a few years before, that I wouldn’t be able to get my A levels.

But just because that part of my life is over, doesn’t mean the anxiety is gone. Medication isn’t always a cure. Sometimes it’s just a way to prevent the illness going any further, like a wall of sandbags on the edge of the dam in your mind.

The dream of being a successful writer is difficult to achieve when you live in a part of the country with very few opportunities, and no money to tide you over while you move down south and complete unpaid internships. So, inevitably, I’m looking for other work while I try to break into the industry that I love the most. This means enhancing my CV, taking on local work experience, and volunteering opportunities. Not easy when you have a hard time leaving the house at all, and an even harder time making yourself speak to people.

Next Friday I have agreed to go along to a local mental health charity’s volunteering morning. They meet once a month and generate ideas for how to raise awareness of the charity and mental illness as a whole. Despite this being a wonderful opportunity, I’m already terrified, and the damn thing is almost a week away!

Anxiety can make you worry and panic about every aspect of something. What if I can’t find a way to get there? What if I get there late? What if I get there early and have to sit around the reception for an hour like a creep? What if I make a fool of myself? What if nobody there likes me? What if I’m too nervous to talk and they all think I’m stupid? What if I can’t think of any ideas? What if? What if? What if?

Anxiety will do that. It takes everything that could possibly go wrong, and throws them at you like there’s no tomorrow. It overwhelms you, it makes you feel sick, it makes your stomach turn and your head cloudy. It makes you want to cancel and give up.

The biggest problem is, despite having anxiety for over a decade, I still don’t know how to beat it. It just… seems to happen every now and then. Somehow, sometimes, I manage to find the strength to beat it back long enough for me to get through something and realise that, actually, there wasn’t anything to worry about.

Anxiety, like my depression, is a daily struggle. Some days are inexplicably harder than others. Some days I’ll want to curl up in a ball, lock my door, and refuse to move for anybody or anything.

It wins more than I do, but I think just knowing that it’s anxiety, and not a real fear based on real evidence, makes it that little bit easier to push away as you fight through. Maybe it’s because I’ve had it for so long, or maybe it’s because I know that if I don’t go to this meeting, I’ll be sabotaging my own career goals by not volunteering and getting good experience for my CV. Either way, I’m determined to win this time.

Website: https://thenorthernwriter.com/

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