Monday, 1 January 2018

An Honest Start to 2017 - 10 Reasons to Stay Alive.

Happy New Year! Hello, 2018. Hope you're less shite than 17! I spent last night with one of my best friends from Uni, her boyfriend, my boyfriend and one of my newest and most favourite friends. It started off a sophisticated affair with champers and dinner at mine, and before long we were all wretched sloppy messes walking the streets of Victoria barefoot and making BFFs with random girls on the street. (Shoutout to Gina, who now has pride of place in my contact list because it was crucial I made sure she got home safe.)

This morning was spent in a unicorn onesie throwing up in the garden because someone was in the shower and regretting every drink from the night before. This afternoon was spent in bed sweating out rum and the evening was spent lying in a pizza-coma with Steven watching our fave new thing, Freaks and Geeks. Start as you mean to go on.

So onto the serious aspect of this post.

I've tried to write a post along these lines several times, but always pussy out in case people treat me differently or pity me.  I bought a book called Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, and it's inspired me to just be totally open and transparent with everyone, so you can follow my journey on here with a clearer understanding and maybe even help someone else to know they aren't alone.

I've had depression for a very, very long time. I think I basically fell out of the womb with a dark cloud over me. It runs in my family, and is a chemical imbalance - there's no rhyme or reason for it. It feels like nothing will ever get better, life feels pointless and painful and my head swims with all the injustices happening in the world. 

When I was 17 I had my first boyfriend, who ended up being a classic abuser. After we broke up I started getting panic attacks, thinking I would run into him again. I didn't really know what a panic attack was at the time, because nobody really spoke about anxiety disorders or other mental health issues openly back then. Eventually my panics started happening in crowded places (no more festivals for me), and social anxiety worsened massively - I've had several bouts of going offline for months at a time because I'm positive everybody is talking about me and I feel like if I delete all my social media people will forget I exist. I am a rational person, but these emotions and paranoia override my rational brain. (Nobody is talking about me, let's be honest. There are more interesting things happening in the world, like Kylie hiding her baby bump.)

When I was at uni I tried counselling but felt uncomfortable and like I wasn't really learning anything from it. I tried Prozac and went crazy with insane side effects and can't really remember those 7 months, so I came off that. Then I started taking Sertaline, or Zoloft. That helped a lot for a long time, but they also made me sign up for counselling. I had a long awkward phone conversation where I had to explain how often I think about suicide before she was convinced I was important enough to make it onto the NHS list. Then I moved house and borough and got dropped from the list and had to re-register.

Then last month I lost my job and my anxiety got worse. I can't sleep and wake up in hot sweats. I had one bad episode on a train where I had to barge everyone out of my way like bowling pins so I could get off, shaking, sweating and dry-wretching for absolutely no apparent reason. I cried the whole way home and couldn't shake the fear I had even though there was no reason for it. I downloaded apps like Calm to get to sleep, because otherwise I lie awake restlessly for hours thinking about the injustice of life and how much easier it would be to end it all, leaving behind a callous suicide letter on my blog publicly naming and shaming everyone who has led me to this, Hannah from 13 Reasons Why style. My Zoloft prescription was recently doubled. Go figure. 

So this New Year my focus is on taking care of myself, and I would recommend everyone spend a little time on bettering themselves because life can feel overwhelming for everyone sometimes.

My New Years Resolution List, AKA, 10 Reasons to Stay Alive this Year. 

1. Start boxing again, once a week. Because it's fun and I need to get my rage and bitterness out in a healthy way.

2. Start going to spin once a week again, because I love it and exercise is good for the mind.

3. Drink less, because even though it numbs things for me short-term, I know it's a depressive and makes me feel worse long-term.

4. Do one of my Mindfulness apps every day, because it's good to reflect and only takes ten minutes.

5. Try to journal, paint or write whenever I have free time rather than flicking through social media, because creativity is important and what Becki from Uni is doing in Malia is not.

6. Try therapy again, because not all counsellors sit and look at you with a frown for the entire hour and I might actually learn something from it.

7. Find the perfect job, even if it takes a few more months. After turning a few things down the last couple of weeks I feel in control of my search and know what I'm looking for.

8. Eat less take out, because it gives me spots. (I'll start when the leftover pizza from today is gone, obvs.)

9. Make one plan every week with a friend, because keeping a close network of amazing, strong and empowering females is important, especially when there are so many fake friends swanning about the place like prostitutes at the Red Light District. 

10. Go out once a week with Steven, even if it's just up the road to the pub for one drink after work so that we make time for each other and communicating. Plus he always makes me laugh, and laughing is good for the soul. 

So, there you have it. Don't feel sorry for me, because it's not meant for that at all. It's about ending the stigma surrounding mental health, being open about it and documenting my journey as I fight it. 

What are your New Year resolutions? Any advice for additions to my list? Let me know!


C x


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