Body for Mind : My First Week

The Diary, Uncategorized

I think to think I’ve tried most methods to maintain, if not improve, my mental health. Medication – check. Therapy – been there. Meditation – tried that.

For a while, I was a fucking hippy, trying to see what soothing effect it might have.

The one thing I could never, ever stand was people telling me that they felt relief with exercise and healthy eating…


I follow a lot of gym bunnies on Instagram, and some of my friends are in the fitness and health field. My timelines are forever loaded with the irritating, motivational ‘fitspo’ pictures and guides.

‘How the fuck can that make you feel good? Genuinely?’

I hated hearing about how people enjoyed exercise, how it helped their stress levels and how their outlook on life was improved by working out and treating their body right. I rubbished it as a lie in order to rope in some more poor bastards to their gym classes, or to pay for expensive diet regimes.

It felt patronising, if I’m honest. Someone telling me, a person with a diagnosed condition, that sit-ups and lettuce could help. I felt like they were almost implying that my brain could be rewired if I ate more Omega 3, or avoided oven chips.

It wasn’t until last month, when I had a ‘shakey moment’, that I decided to cave to the hype. I made a deal with myself that I’d set up an experiment, for a short period of time, to see if working out more and eating better had any effect on my bipolar. I ordered a new recipe book, dug out my dad’s WonderCore and gave myself two months to feel an improvement.

I started planning meals, subscribed to yoga tutorials and drew up my own work-out routine with exercise that I might actually enjoy. For added pressure, I told all my friends about my plan so that they would spot when I was being lazy or eating shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still giving myself treats – everything in moderation, they say.

The focus wasn’t on weight loss or physical improvements, but I welcomed the possibility of getting more fit and toning up my ever-growing arse. As previously disclosed, I’ve dealt with eating phobias when I was younger, so it was important to me not to get caught up in the wrong goals.

And so it begun. I was one of those people.

giphy

It’s been a week now.

I work out 4 times a week, at home, and use the Lean In 15 cook book to make up my packed lunches and dinners.

I hate myself for saying this – but I can feel things changing already.

Let’s be clear, I won’t be posting any ‘progress pics’ of my pale boy-ish body. That’s not what I’m doing this for. But I do feel my shape changing.

With hillwalking, my legs have become more toned and the yoga has helped my core. I work myself into a sweat for 1 hour and then I stop – making sure not to overdo it. My biggest surprise has been how much I enjoy my new meals, I eat so much more fruit and vegetables – despite previously eating quite a lot. My meals taste healthy and light, but I’m rarely able to finish them because they’re so filling!

It feels good to have my workmates comment on how tasty my lunches look now, as opposed to jokingly rolling their eyes at yet another box of doughnuts.

As for my mind? The progress is coming, but it’s much slower.

I try and power-walk 3 miles a night, luckily I live in quite a safe and scenic area so it doesn’t feel like a chore. After my first walk, I felt great. I felt like I’d actually found something I could stick to and incorporate into my strict routine. Working out definitely helps to relieve any stress, but mostly it serves as a distraction.

Living alone, I find I get too wrapped up in my own thoughts when I don’t have company, so this was helpful.

Although it only been a week, I’m optimistic about the changes to come. I’ve become one of those people that I once hated, but I was probably jealous of their will-power.

Anyway, that’s the first week done. Stay tuned to see how I get on!

So far, so great.

feeling myself

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Benzo’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend: Unsolicited Advice on Progress

The Diary

Jen McGuire

 

I often find it difficult to talk about my varying mental health issues. Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed, but because I’ve been dealing with them for so long. I don’t remember a point in my teenage or adult life where it hasn’t been something I’ve had to face head on. In a way, the depression and the anxiety are a part of me that I’ve never been without- I have blue eyes, I’m allergic to penicillin and sometimes I’m cripplingly afraid to go outside. If you know me well, you know I’m a walking bingo card for psychological dysfunction. But, with a little help from our good old friends Sertraline and Chardonnay (a mixture I lovingly refer to as truth serum), Ican shed some light on my unconventional coping mechanisms, and how I’ve survived the past eight years of cerebral chaos.

1: Selective Self-Seeking

Unconventional self-help tip numero uno: sometimes you have to be selfish. If I had a pound for every time someone told me they’d delayed getting help to ‘protect’ a loved one’s concerns, I’d have Zac Efron on a diamond encrusted leash. It’s normal to be reluctant to worry the people you care about, but looking out for yourself is the first step to progress. What makes mental health disorders so incomprehensible to those who have not experienced them, is their enduring nature. You can’t just take a course of pills and feel better, it isn’t a virus that needs to be placed into isolation, and it can’t be surgically removed. When battling addiction, they say admitting you have a problem is the hardest part of recovery, and I think the same can be said for mental health. Admit it to yourself and those around you, and then do everything you can to kick its arse into remission. In the beginning, you need to look at what youneed and what’s going to make you better. Those who truly have your best interests to heart, will accept that and aid you in your journey. Those who don’t, do not care about you and will get crotch-punched later in life (either metaphorically by karma, or literally by me if I ever meet them). Be aware of the things that are good for you mentally, and be selfish in your attempts to surround yourself with them… Just try not to be a massive dick about it.

 

2: Accepting the Ugly

When I was 15 I had my first panic attack in the middle of my high school gym hall. If you have ever experienced one of these little shits, you’ll know your first thought is that you’re very possibly dying. In between mentally planning who was going to sing ‘Wonderwall’ at my funeral, and who gets my electric pink Stratocaster in my will, I saw my local GP. What I’ve come to realise as I rapidly approach my mid-twenties, is that not once did this doctor ever explain that this could very likely be an ongoing issue (spoiler: it has been). My mentality at the time, fragile as it was, was that it would just be a blip in an otherwise normal adolescence. For nearly eight years I’ve wondered when it’s all going to stop, when I’m going to “get better”. This notion was shattered only a few months ago when my new (and infinitely more likeable) doctor told me “Jen, you’ve had this for eight years now. It’s not going away.” Whilst that might seem harsh to some, it was a revelation to me. Yes, I would love to wake up tomorrow and never have to deal with any of it ever again. I’d give almost anything to not have another panic attack or a day spent crying in the dark. But recent experience suggests that this is something that is always going to be a part of me, and that’s okay. I can and have coped, and so can you. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves, but you can take part of it and turn it into a positive. Let your efforts to protect your own wellbeing against all odds become one of your biggest strengths, I promise you’ll come to love yourself for it.

 

3: Knowing Yourself

By living with mental health disorders, it has become somewhat difficult to differentiate between aspects of my personality, and symptoms of my conditions. Am I a paranoid person, or is the anxiety making me that way? Am I pessimistic or am I just on a downer right now? Will drinking bring out the best or worst in me tonight? Which version of myself am I today? Who am I? What will I be? This is the hardest thing for me to write about, because battling with what’s me and what’s a side effect has brought me upon some of my biggest crises to date. I wish I had an answer to this, but I’m still trying to work it out myself. On the good days, I trust in myself to know who I am. I’m funny, intelligent, kind and sensitive. On the bad I interpret these traits as being annoying, arrogant, selfish and cold. Maybe I am all of these things, or perhaps I’m none of them. What I’ve come to learn is that you can find solace in the uncertainty of it all. I can change, I can grow and I can learn because it’s all a part of who I have the potential to be. I also know the things that will never change: I will never not rap R Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ to random strangers in a club; I’ll always eat the blue M&M’s first and so help me god if there’s tequila anywhere near me I will vomit rainbows. What I’m trying to say, is take advantage of what is unique to you today and look forward to learning the rest tomorrow, next week or a year from now.

 

4: Progressing

I’m not a fan of the term ‘recovery’ when it comes to mental health. It implies something going away, never to return, to be forgotten about and rarely discussed. Even if what you’re going through does ‘Die Hard’ it has the potential to return ‘With A Vengeance’ like some sort of ‘Lethal Weapon’… Excellent action movie puns aside, it is completely normal to accept that you may take three steps forward and five steps back. You might be crushing it in the office today, then sobbing on the bathroom floor tomorrow. A couple of weeks ago I was hysterically crying and vomiting in a bucket on my mum’s living room floor, and now I’m writing an article promoting mental health wellbeing. The journey from depression and anxiety to fully functioning human being is kind of like the Trump presidency- unpredictable, daunting and senseless. You can’t call it, so roll with the punches and pat yourself on the back for getting through each day. They say thank heavens for small mercies, and I agree. Applaud yourself for any and all progresses, no matter how minor they might seem. Managed to eat some toast despite not having an appetite all week? Progress. Not self-harming when you’ve had a really bad day? Progress. Telling a friend what you’re going through at the minute? Progress, progress, progress.

 

5: “You’re going to have to save yourself.”

A depressive, 20-something English graduate quoting Bukowski? “HOW ORIGINAL!” I hear you cry. But spare me your eye rolls, because I have a point to make and you bet your apprehensive arse that it’s a good one. Like so many, I turn to literature on the dark days to bring my spirits up. I even managed to bullshit a degree out of it, but that’s neither here nor there… However, one verse by Charles Bukowski always comes to mind when I’m giving myself a pep-talk:

“Nobody can save you but

yourself.

and you’re worth saving.

it’s a war not easily won.

but if anything is worth winning then

this is it”

 

While it might sound daunting, I’ve found a great deal of comfort in knowing it’s all on me. We are all the masters of our own destiny and the engineers to our own happiness. Talk to people, love people, share your life with people, but remember it all starts and ends with you. The strongest people I know are the ones fighting the monsters in their own head. Getting yourself out of bed and seeking help is the most empowering thing you can do. When you feel like your life is getting out of your control, take it back. When you’re crippled with self-doubt, find comfort in the promise of tomorrow. Put one foot in front of the other, and know that whenever you fall there is always a way to get back up. You are both the victim and the hero in your own story. Dammit, you are the story, so start writing.

The Crazy Clinic Chronicles

The Diary

I try to be as open as possible about my treatment and personal progress, as you know. So, with this in mind, my aim is to document my visits to the doctor and any changes to my medication/routine.

Is it too personal? Perhaps too much sharing? Probably.

But I know that there are people dealing with undiagnosed mental health struggles and, this way, they get to see that seeking help and being on prescribed medication isn’t as scary as it seems.


My last visit for an evaluation was a month ago, my doctor had changed my dosage for my anti-anxiety drugs and, today, wanted to see how the alterations had affected me. Four weeks ago, I had complained of a ‘spike’ in my nerves. The way my anxiety works means that when it flares up, my bipolar symptoms can too. Feeding the fire, so to speak. It’s easy for me to separate anxiety from my more severe problems now, I can sense when it’s coming and how it’ll affect my mood swings. Last month, I had started experiencing faint hallucinations and severe distraction. I couldn’t focus on a task for more than 30/40 seconds without something breaking my attention.

Imagine Dory from Finding Nemo on drugs. That was me.

Anyway, the changes involved going from one, slow-release tablet in the morning to two, fast-acting pills taken 6 hours apart. For the first week, I didn’t feel any better. Worse, in fact. I was having small panic attacks on the commute to work and was only able to remain calm due to the knowledge that I had taken action and had to be patient to see changes. By the second week, I noticed a huge change in my nerves in the morning. I was walking up calm instead of shaking with irrational fear. At this point, mornings were starting to get lighter and brighter too, which makes a huge difference to me. I was able to leave the house much more confidently.

Today I had my re-evaluation, and while it could’ve went better, I’m staying optimistic with treatment. I had yet another increase with a different drug, one which I was disappointed in having to take.

I’m still naive in the sense that I always think my doses will go down, rather than increase or plateau. 

I’m allowing myself to be bothered by this increase because it’s normal to be disappointed at needing help. There’s no need to act like you’re happy to be taking even more medication. Will it help? Yes. Do you need to enjoy taking it? Absolutely fucking not.

Anyway…

I’ve got a new, and dare I say better, doctor. She explained to me that once your mind stabilises and is ready to bounce back, it might need some help to get there. It’s been through a shock. So, again, in a month she’ll evaluate my progress with the new medication. I have appointments between now and then, so any issues that arise can be tackled pretty quickly.

My homework until then is to learn more about Bipolar Type II.

Plodding onwards, chums.

leonardo dicaprio cheers martin scorsese congratulations hooray

# Yes, I’m aware Leo has appeared twice. He’s soothing to me. Fuck off.

Down on the Upside

The Diary

 Kieran Monaghan, 26

Lets start things off light-hearted shall we?! Here is anxiety bear:


Cute isn’t he?! Now that you have been eased into the murky waters of this harrowing tale let me begin…
It was on the 23rd May 2016 I finally decided to confront what I had known for years: My mental health was on its arse and I needed to make changes. After being on stand-by mode for what had seemed like months, I made an impulsive decision to visit my friend in Germany for 2 weeks to sort my head out, remove my self from friends, family, work, the pressures of finding that perfect ‘career job’ and all the general petty worries someone in their mid 20’s going through the motions would feel.
The year prior to this I had just finished my dissertation and was finally free from the confines of formal education. I genuinely thought I would now be free to do exactly as I pleased. What followed however, was months of a directionless existence. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my degree I slipped back into old habits, working full-time at the same job I had since leaving school, grasping at every possible opportunity to gorge myself with drink to break up the grind of being just another cog in the machine. I was even finding it difficult to socialise with close friends if alcohol wasn’t involved in some shape or form, I felt completely disconnected from reality at this point. I was approaching 25 and hadn’t accomplished nearly 10% of the goals I had mentally set myself out at 18. My delusions with reality had gotten so bad that one morning, a week before my 25th birthday, I woke up for work and was contemplating throwing myself in front of an incoming train just to escape from it all. This is the only time I have ever truly considered self-harm or taking my life.

My trip to Germany felt like the reset button my life needed. I went two whole weeks without a negative thought veering into my rearview mirror during the trip. Surrounded by strangers, no prior judgement, no wall or front to put up to appeases others, it was utter bliss. Coming home to reality broke me and made me realise I wasn’t well. I told my family everything that I had been feeling the past year which brought up some uncomfortable home truths as well as making me examine my psyche in a way I was completely unwilling to before. I sought out help and was diagnosed with depression and high levels of anxiety and was put on meds to stabilise my moods and behaviour.
From a young age I have suffered from extreme anxiety. I have always been quite introverted in nature and find most social situations with large crowds of people uncomfortable unless I’m out of my face. What started off as an inconvenience for my social life slowly started to weave its way into my everyday life. I would take the smallest fear or doubt in my head and blow it up to the point were I would spend full days in my room paralysed with anxiety. I always use a strange analogy to describe what it feels like to me having high levels of anxiety:
“Do you know when you get a line from a song stuck in your head from hours on end and you can’t seem to shake it out no matter how hard you try? Anxiety is like that, but take what would appear to be a pretty harmless idea/thought, repeating it over and over in your head until it warps into the worst possible version of that thought you can imagine leaving you feeling helpless and absorbed by your insecurities.”
That might sound a tad melodramatic but this is something I was having to deal with on a near daily basis but too embarrassed to say to anyone. Being trapped inside your head fighting a never-ending mental war on yourself is tough for anyone and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
That analogy not do anything for you? Here it is a more visual description of what living with anxiety is like:

Being a self-hating privileged white male, I am very self-aware that myself and many guys grow up without really facing any kind of hardships in our day to day lives, both personally and professionally. The one area where males have always faltered with is talking about their feelings and being ‘emotional’. Even as someone who would identify themselves as quite effeminate, the stigma of masculinity has always lured over my head when it has came to expressing how I really feel at the best of times. I have been in past relationships where I have been unable to express how I’m feeling to the other half no matter how hard I’m being pushed. One particular relationship, which was by no means a bad relationship, ended pretty badly as the girl got understandably frustrated that I couldn’t express myself to her in the way I really wanted to. In my head I had just always been taught to avoid confrontation at all costs as men are supposed to be ‘strong’ and ‘stoic’. traditional masculinity is something I have always tried to fight against but at the end of the day I still felt trapped by the cliches of being a man.
Being able to openly discuss mental health and our feelings is something I have tried to make a priority with my male friends when we are out drinking, as sadly being intoxicated is the easiest way for men to let down that macho facade and be real with themselves even if just momentarily. Last summer I was telling my closest friend, who was suffering from a long-term battle with Cancer, that I felt genuinely embarrassed talking to him about my problems after everything he had been through to this point. I felt pathetic that I had at points wanted to give up on my life when he was fighting everyday just to stay around a little longer. But being the incredible compassionate human being that he was told me “That just because your problems aren’t as severe as mine, doesn’t mean they aren’t any less insignificant”. Despite all the bullshit he was going through, he was still willing to lend an ear and talk to me about troubles I felt uncomfortable talking to anyone else about at that stage. For that and everything else he done for me over the years, I’m truly grateful to have had someone there to listen to me when I needed it most.
So what your wanting to know now is that I confronted my problems, got the help I needed and am now fully recovered and live happily ever after?! Well kids, life isn’t the fairytales Disney and countless other feel good stories depict it to be. Have I gotten better?! Of course. Being able to talk openly about my troubles makes it easier to confront them when they occasionally come back out to play. I certainly have more good days than bad days but those bad days can still be as bad as they used to be. The only difference is now I have the support system of friends and family to pull me out of that funk when I get into that headspace. Honestly without them this might be a much different blog post.

Sadly at the end of last year my friend passed away after battling for years and I was fully expecting to go off the rails completely but his death has brought all my close friends closer together than we have been in years and we all have each other to fall in if things get tough. I have also been fortunate enough to bring new folk into my life who have unwillingly helped my recovery without even being aware of it.
If I could say anything to anyone reading this post who can relate to any of this, especially the dudes: please tell a friend or family member and that burden will feel 100 times lighter. Male Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in Britain and this static will only spiral unless we teach men that its okay to be emotional and talk to others about your problems. Sure its gradual battle that never truly fades away even with time but you will be surprised by what someone showing basic human compassion towards you could do to help.

Time Flies

The Diary

While I try to keep this place as humorous and upbeat as I can, I can’t become distracted from the initial purpose of the blog – to raise honest, open awareness about mental health. This past month, I have purposely avoided writing anything new. I suppose I’ve spent more time ensuring that this January wasn’t a repeat of last. And for the most part, it worked!

‘Most’ being the key word. 


I won’t bore anyone by repeating the grizzly tales of Winter 2015.

The important thing, I suppose, is that it didn’t happen again – at least not to the same degree.

Throughout this January, there were undoubtedly days when I woke up terrified that I was coming full circle. My anxiety returned during commutes to/from work and I absolutely could not be left alone. I loathed socialising, but to be by myself was – without exaggeration – a death wish. I’d done kinda well to push past this kind of thing for a year, but the mere thought of repeating that ‘phase’ had given my body enough of a fright to resuscitate those kinds of feelings.

Thankfully, I never put myself in any real danger.

This year, I had done all I could. I took on the same rituals as last in order to avoid having ‘bad days.’ I listened to Kenny Rogers, I slept and ate well, and I made it my priority to laugh by surrounding myself with people I felt safe and comfortable around. Even my relatively new workmates have become fantastic pillars. It’s just unfortunate that my obsession with staying well actually drove me closer to Round Two.  I didn’t get it. I done everything that had made me feel better last time, it just didn’t seem to work as well. But from this,  I’ve learned the most valuable lesson that no therapist or doctor ever told me.

My mind can’t be forced or tricked into being well, but it certainly can’t be left to fester by hoping that it’ll simply ‘get better with time’. The best thing to do is have my daily steps, and ride out any Bad Days to the best of my ability. I have to take on the shit if I have any hope of achieving any good. The spoiled brat in me, prior to this, was unwilling to wait for any improvement. Unwilling to embrace bad days. And that’s where I went wrong this year.

Next year, I’ll have no regiment in place. I won’t focus on avoidance, ignorance is certainly not bliss.

1.

The most frustrating thing about this ‘anniversary’ is just the fact that my illness is now a year old. I remember telling myself, pre-diagnosis,  ‘if this fucking thing hasn’t gone in two weeks…three weeks…a month…’. And here we are, a year of being a full-time nutjob. It’s annoying, but I know I’ve done my best to stop it interfering with my lifestyle.

Christ, I’d even say I’ve done pretty fucking well.

New job, bagging a few dates, I even went up a bra size. 

Side note: I hadn’t changed bra size since I was 18. So yes, it IS important to me.

I suppose this post is to remind myself, and anyone reading, that the road to recovery or even improvement, isn’t a short one. There’s potholes all over the fucking place. You’ll stall, run out of petrol and maybe, occasionally, a pigeon shits on your windscreen.

These are all metaphors, please understand this.

As a bipolar depressive, I know that elements of my condition are here to stay. The mood swings are manageable, but I’m likely to be on medication long-term – if not for life. But hopefully, at some point, the highs will be more frequent than the lows. And I’ll be able to acknowledge and wave-off any oncoming spells.

I can’t afford to keep buying my mum a present every time I’m a dick to her, if I’m honest.

So if you’re like me, and have the balloons and bunting up to celebrate another year of being a needy, boring cunt then listen closely:

Keep the decorations. You’ll probably be needing them for a while. But each year, the presents get better and cakes get bigger. I’m fully prepared to have this with me for a good bit.

But if you start to deny that it’s there, it’ll make itself more prominent. And that, my chum, is when the fun starts.

When The Going Gets…Good?

The Diary

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since starting the blog, thus making my condition public, is if it’s possible for me to feel real, mad happiness. And the answer is always accompanied with an eye-roll.

Yes. I can.

Think of it this way, my serotonin levels are low, right? Which, yeah, technically impairs my ability to feel like a gleeful little leprechaun. But use that same principle with other hormones.

If a woman has slightly higher testosterone levels, she might show signs through her reproductive health or maybe some physical elements. But she isn’t a man, is she?

What I’m saying is that, just because something is present, it doesn’t always dominate.

I’m fortunate in the sense that things, right now, are going pretty well for me. I just landed my dream job, working with the SSPCA – Scotland’s leading animal rescue charity. The big dogs.

Sorry.

My social life is relatively active, considering I was a hermit about 3 months ago. I go out, make wine-based mistakes like every other 23 year old, and I’m now able to laugh about situations that would’ve literally driven me mad in the past.

But while things are going well, I do still find it hard to keep focused on the good stuff. For me, there is a constant preoccupation with danger and negative situations. I sometimes struggle to acknowledge how genuinely good things are, and instead spend my time worrying over meeting new people, proving myself and doing things completely right. For example, when I accepted the new job this week – I was happy, yes. But almost instantly my mind was filled with doubts – what if I don’t make friends? what if they think I’m incapable? And soon I start thinking that I should decline the job, stay where I am and – ultimately – be miserable. I can somewhat override this now, though. Depression wants you to stay boxed in, by yourself and numb. And you know you’re getting better when you can start to ignore it.

The best way I can describe my current state is that I’m happy, but I constantly feel like I’ve got something in the back of my mind. There’s almost a physical pressure in my head, and I can’t quite shake it some days. It’s extremely important for me to stay busy, but my attention span is pretty poor, and occasionally I’ll go blank because my heads in overdrive. You literally have to force that ‘feeling’ out of your head.

brainpic

My best attempt at a diagram of the situation. CBT gives an exit route/vent to the blues, after they’ve been pushed back.

In order for me to get better, I had this mental list of things that I wanted to tackle. Things that would genuinely make me happier. Examples being getting a new job, mending relationships/friendships that I cared about, seeing my friends more, taking better care of my physical state and saying ‘Fuck It’ a lot more. Prior to diagnosis, I had given up on all of these things. I was content to stay in a job that I hated, didn’t really care about people around me and definitely didn’t look after myself. I was also a huge introvert, hence why it’s important for me to be more spontaneous now. I 100% believe that these goals have helped me to get over a large part of the illness, and while there’s still things to tackle, I’m getting there. Definitely.

I think that a large part of my initial understanding of depression was warped. I’ve always tried to be an advocate for ‘it’s not always what it looks like’, because people with this condition – as well as bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses ARE normal people. I think of the conditions as a little ‘glitch’ in their circuit boards. It’s completely possible to be happy when you have a negatively-wired mind, as weird as that sounds. And for me, it’s important that the stigma is dissolved. I’d like to be able to laugh without someone implying that it’s a rarity or some sort of miracle!

To be fair, it’s actually difficult for me to accept when I’m feeling happy. Not that I don’t want to be, but my mind is so busy processing the anxious thoughts, that when a nice one comes along, it freaks. It’s like walking back into school after the summer holidays. If you imagine my brain as a campus, and about 60% of the other pupils are anxious/blue/paranoid thoughts. A nice little thought comes in, sees everyone looking at them, and has to quickly find the table with it’s other, happy friends. That thought seems odd, out of place and finds it difficult to blend in to the literal madness. But it finds the table, sits, and gets on with it. The more that this happens, the better. The ‘campus’ will eventually be full of good shit, thus, Happy Kathryn!

Holy fucking hell, that was a terrible metaphor.

Anyway, in this ‘pursuit of happiness’, I’ll always be open about the success/failure of my own goals. Before starting this blog, I used to read other peoples’, and I didn’t always feel that they were honest when things went really good, or even really bad. A lot of their posts were just about staying static, to be honest. There was no progress reports. Admitting failure and being proud of your successes are key in truly getting better, I think. So I’ll do just that. Plus, it’ll probably make for a more interesting read.

Love From A Lunatic.

The Diary

I’ve noticed this recurring trend on social media recently, where people are sharing articles with some eye-catching titles.

‘How to Love Someone With Depression’, ‘Choosing Between Your Sex Life and Treating The Blues’, and my personal favourite, good and punny, ‘Crazy in Love’. 

I’ve had a nosey, I won’t lie. I like to see what ‘normal’ people say about being in relationships with someone with depression, purely because I like the laugh. But also because it strikes a chord, still.

You see, the thing with a lot of these titles, is that they can actually sting a wee bit. Not only is the content of the article completely useless  (FYI, do NOT ‘wrap your sad person up in a  blanket, feed and cuddle them back to happiness‘ – fuck right off with that.) but the titles kind of imply that the partners of people with my condition literally need an instruction manual on how to be around you, or love you in a ‘safe’ way.

No no, I get it. I really do. They’re just offering pointers, I know. But the pointers change with each particular person. This cannot be generalised and made cute by some idiot writing for VICE.

See below for my own little Bridget Jones story,  with supporting roles from Citalopram and Dr Brown.


One of the things that people don’t really warn you about is the impact that your condition has on your relationships, and for me, this was a biggy.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve had 3 serious relationships. Two of which were affected by my little phase.

And by ‘serious’ I mean that they’ve had pet names and I’ve shared my food with them. Big steps. I’m kidding, I loved dem bitches, big time.

The first one was 2.5 years long, we lived together and we were chalk and cheese. But it worked, somehow. He was my best friend, and I still consider him one of my nearest and dearest. I remember the week that it started to end, and on the night we broke up – mutually- we both agreed that we’d become ‘just friends’. Something wasn’t there anymore. Alas, our lives were changing in big ways and we knew it would be okay eventually. Things won’t be the same as they were for us, for numerous reasons, but we continue to have each other’s backs, and it’s nice.

The second one lasted around 6 months, but for only 2 of those months was I ‘stable.’ Poor bloke. On our first date, though, I was completely sold. Each day we were meeting, he’d wait outside the shop and my colleagues would nearly cry because he was ‘just so nice’ for bringing me coffees and carrying my bags. But as the months went on, long distances and the fact that I was going full ‘Britney Mode’ completely ate away at us. We broke up over pints and haven’t spoken since. To this day, I wonder what would’ve happened had I not been going through this little funk, but that’s life. And I’m okay with that, because I have to be.

Now you could say that both experiences were totally normal. Things end, people change and all that jazz. But what I realised was that since May 2014, when I moved in with the first guy, I was a total bitch. Not deliberately, but I could feel myself becoming completely bitter. I was constantly tired, insensitive, argumentative and began to subconsciously punish him for acts in the past – another tale, another time.

When I started dating the second guy, my sensitivity chip was completely gone. I was selfish, ungrateful and had the libido of a sloth. All I wanted to do was stay in bed. We’d joke and say I was an ‘Ice Queen’ but seriously…the boy deserves a medal for even attempting to tolerate me. There was absolutely nothing he could do to help, though. And that’s when everything surfaced.

Much like dementia, depression often causes you to become childish. And not in a cute, funny way. As in, you don’t think of consequences. You become self-orientated because your mind is trying to:

1) figure out where the serotonin be at

2) REMEMBER YOUR OWN FUCKING NAME.

3) Under no circumstances, allow you to steal your Granny’s painkillers and go visit big JC in the sky.

For any organ, that’s a lot to ask.

VICE can publish all the cute mental health articles they want,  but they are feeding these poor souls a fib. Believe me when I say, most people with this condition feel next to nothing. (The ‘lack of sensitivity chip’ I mentioned earlier was my mind starting to wander. It all makes such wonderful sense now!)

To put it into perspective, here’s a pie chart.

Bitches love pie charts.

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This is about as accurate as it gets when depicting my own experience, in its height of course. Nowadays, I spend more time listening to ABBA and still lust over my bed.

For me, spending time with people became a chore. I loathed both guys for ever attempting to lure me outdoors. And I know I wasn’t just lazy, because I remember thinking ‘GOD THAT’D BE LOVELY’, only to have my own mind shoot that down with ‘But you’ll need to face people, you’ll need to look happy, you’ll need to hold hands and talk to him.’ The only time I could face being out was if I was drinking, because the natural confidence boost that alcohol gave me was literally the reason the relationships probably lasted as long as they did. So it was win/win, alcohol = sociable = one more day with the boyfriend.

If you ask either of the boys, they’ll also tell you I slept a lot. I spent my days in pyjamas and on the couch, because it was just easier. I realise now how fucking boring it must’ve been. I had the attention span of a toddler, and could feel myself being rude. But honestly, I found it extremely hard to care about anyone. It was the Wee Sad Kathryn show, and nobody else was allowed attention.

Another key point in my own experience was the complete and utter disinterest in guys as a whole. For a second, I genuinely thought I was switching teams – only making things worse. My undying love for Harry Styles was gone, and I absolutely shit myself.* Confusion in that way can come with the medicine, the loss of libido can make it almost impossible to get a tickle in your pickle. Not to mention, I didn’t know how to dress myself – let alone know who I fancied. An excellent time for all, obviously.

* I only panicked because I’d spent my life obsessed with guys. I appreciate Ladylove, but One does not enjoy a fair maiden’s company right now,  Merci.

The general anxiety that comes with my situation is completely bizarre. I remember being out for dinner with the latest victim’s  guy’s family on New Year’s Day – pre diagnosis. Oh my GOD, what a fucking farce. I was sat there, with the loveliest ‘in-laws’ a girl could ask for, talking away to me about their family past. And there was me, staring into my korma and thinking ‘I absolutely am losing my mind. I need to be gone.’ I only snapped out of the daze because I soon noticed the silence at the table and his dad staring at me.

‘Katie, are you okay?’

Fucked it. Intensely awkward. Thankfully, my ex explained that I was feeling a bit out of it. And they were completely lovely about it, but I never lived it down. I had completely lost my mind, and they had seen it.

Thinking further back, the first guy didn’t have the best luck either. We lived in central Edinburgh, in a beautiful area. Yet all I wanted to do, on our rare days off together, was sleep and watch Friends. Sounds cute and chilled, you say. But every night, after work, I came home, showered and often went to bed without saying hello to him or asking about his day. I was in total auto-pilot.

There’s a huge amount of regret regarding the ways I’ve let my condition affect my ‘love life’.  I’ve apologised to Edinburgh Man about my behaviour over the years, and he understands. He’s actually coached me through a lot since. I tried apologising to the latter guy after we ended, with no response. Probably because my mum text him a bunch of abuse after we broke up.

If you’re reading this, she says she’s sorry and blames the menopause. Don’t be mad.

I suppose my point here is that, if you’re with someone who has this condition, you’re a trooper. And not in a ‘oh my god, we’re so troubled and mysterious! Well done for being here!’ kinda way. As in, well done for dealing with the mood swings, not eating, laziness, lack of conversation, loss of humour and general loss of who you thought you were in a relationship with. Not to mention the potential lack of Sexy Time. Unless you enjoy shagging people who are crying. In which case, seek help.

Anyway, for me, relationships are an absolute no-go right now.

I say that like I have options, but you know what I mean.

Honestly, I don’t have the mental space to consider someone else. The idea of having to consistently explain my actions is terrifying, I’d rather be able to be heartless and relatively sane than driving myself up the wall over a chap. I can talk to guys, I can date, but I absolutely – under no circumstances – will be in a relationship until I feel like I’m getting back to normal. I know a lot of people work the opposite way, maybe they feel a relationship motivates them to get better, but that’s not me. I like being able to know that my mood swings aren’t hurting anyone, or that my silence isn’t being taken for rudeness. It’s easier, and to be honest, I haven’t been properly single since I was 18 –  so I think some Me Time is well earned.

Plus, it means that I can be a creep and not get into shit for it. #winning

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If it’s you that’s loving, make sure you love yourself enough first.

If it’s you that’s being loved, good fucking luck.

And may the odds be forever in your favour.

(I’m kidding, just be nice.)