A mysterious “Something”

shadowy-figure-shower-curtain-1300pxOver the past few days, I have had the “sense” of something deep inside my brain that wants to get out.  I’m not sure what it is, or what it wants, but it paces around waiting to be released.  I can feel it getting stronger, and the urgency getting deeper, but I don’t know how to get it out.  It is very frustrating, like an itch I can’t scratch.  It is like there is a song in my head, a song that I know, a song that I love, a song that tells a story of the deepest part of me, but I just can’t remember the words or lyrics.  Over the next few days I am going to spend time meditating on it to see what comes up.  Is it a short story, a poem, a joke, or something completely out of left field?  Whatever it is, it is definitely a “thing” that wants to be made, an expression of…something…that yearns to be free.

I’m excited to find out what it turns out to be 🙂

Panic attack

how-stop-panic-attacks-step-stepYesterday was a mixed bag of a day.  I felt fine all day then, in the middle of the afternoon, I suddenly got a major anxiety attack.  I was sitting at my desk at work, not thinking about anything other than the computer code I was writing, when it hit me like a bolt of lightning.  I felt a sudden sense of panic, like I was in danger, and the urgent desire to run away and hide.  Remembering the training I got in therapy, I closed my eyes and focused on mindfulness, just being present in my own body.  After a few minutes or so, the panic attack stopped, but the low-level anxiety remained the rest of the day.

Feeling a lot better today, still don’t know what caused the attack, but I’m so grateful that I now have tools available to be able to wrestle control back.  Therapy has really helped me to deal with the depression and anxiety, and I am so glad that my family persuaded me to give it a shot.

Onwards and upwards…

Bad day

jester_by_incross-d63b842Today is a bad one… I manage to get myself up and out to work, but I am really struggling to get a grip on my depression today.  There are some days where everything comes easy, and some days where everything seems hard.  Today is the latter.  I didn’t sleep well, had bad dreams, and then woke up early.  I have been in a downward spiral ever since 😦  Everything seems a little…bland right now, like there is no point of purpose.  I know that this is my brain lying to me, because I know that I have many wonderful things and people in my world.

Luckily, I have a wonderful spouse who understands and doesn’t hate me for it.  Besides, I hate myself enough for both of us.  This is one of the few times that I have blogged while in the grips of a down day – I usually can’t bring myself to do it.  I want this blog to be honest, so I am just typing how I feel and not worrying about editing.  Forgive me if I seem down on myself right now, only I feel like a complete piece of shit and hate everything about myself.  Okay, that might be overstating a little… I just hate how I feel about myself right now.

I am going to do the only thing I can do… slap on my jester’s cap, do a silly dance and wear the “happy” mask for the sake of my job.  If I do it long enough, I might start to fool myself.  I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

This too shall pass…

Closing the Book of Face…

I’m seriously considering quitting Facebook.  Not because of anything specific that anyone has said or done, but (for some reason) it seems to be contributing to my depression.  Scrolling through Facebook for more than a few minutes seems to frequently leave me feeling that downwards pull.  Don’t really know why, although I have theories.

It will be hard not being in touch with certain people, but hopefully I will still be able to keep in touch over email etc.  I have to take the steps needed to maintain my emotional and mental health, I owe it to my family to do all that I can to be the best “me” that I can be.  So, if I suddenly disappear from your friends list, please know that it isn’t personal, it will be because I have closed my account.

Of course, I will still be writing this blog – so you can always reach me here 🙂

Feeling very small…

cropped-first-insight-canstockphoto6258288.jpgI had a very frustrating experience yesterday that I thought I would write about.  Last night, shortly after I went to bed, I had just started to fall asleep when the smoke alarm in the bedroom went off for no apparent reason.  I jumped out of bed, switched on the light and (of course) the alarm stopped by itself.  Don’t know what triggered it, but it now it was blinking red and I was worried about it going off again.  It was at this point that I realized that I had no idea what to do.

This may sound silly to most people, but to me it was a crushing realization.  I consider myself a technically proficient person, some would say geek, but as I stood staring at the alarm I felt completely lost and helpless.  Do I just press the button?  Do I have to open it?  Do I do nothing?  I had no idea. Of course, 2 minutes of Googling later I had the answer, but I felt so stupid and useless.  How could something so simple make me freeze like that?

As I get older I am starting to find out all the things that most people find out when they are children, or at least younger than 42!  As I lay in bed I couldn’t stop thinking about how my dad never really taught us how to do things.  My dad never really wanted to spend much time with us, and was very controlling and never allowed us to help him around the house.  He never taught me how to bait a hook, never played catch, never taught me to drive, or even let me learn how to do the little jobs around the house.  He would do a lot of DIY, but would never let us be involved.  I didn’t realize just how much it affected me until now.

I feel like a small, scared child pretending to be a grown-up, hoping that the “real” grown-ups don’t see through my disguise and reveal me to be the fraud that I feel like.  I’m sure that a lot of people feel this way, but I am going through a phase of “post-therapy” self-realization.  Even as I write this it sounds so whiny, and it probably is, but it is something that hurts my soul.

Sometimes, self-awareness sucks…

Anxiety Dreams

1273941451_1

Lately, I have been having rather vivid, disturbing dreams centered on being rejected by those I love the most.  I know that this is coming from a place of post-therapy anxiety, and I know that they are not real, but I can’t help being affected by them.  My dreams have been mostly centered on my wife not wanting to be with me for one reason or another.  She avoids me more and more until I end up begging for her to be honest with me about how she feels.  She eventually admits that she doesn’t care about me and leaves me.

These are dreams, they are not reality (not even close) and I have a great relationship with my wife, but every time I wake up from one of these dreams I feel rejected and incredibly sad and depressed.  This morning I was able to “shake it off” and get up and go to work, but it was not easy.  I gave my wife a big hug before I left, which helped me feel more “connected”.  I am feeling full of anxiety this morning and I am hoping that I can get a grip on it – the last thing I want to do it have to leave work early again.

People that don’t have anxiety issues don’t really understand the impact that something like can have on your state of mind, which (for me) is a huge factor.  My anxiety makes me worry about things that probably won’t happen, it makes me feel like I can’t take any course of action because they all seem too difficult, or that they will all end badly.  When I have clear vivid dreams that literally show me those bad things happening, it multiplies the sense of dread that I feel by a factor of 10.

I think that today is a good day to use the “Upbeat” playlist that I have on my iPhone, focus on work and cuddle with my wife when I get home…

Weird Dreams

Good Dream Bad DreamI had the most bizarre dream the other night.  I only remember vague details, but what I remember was bad enough.

In the dream, I was at work and there was a “thing” that I needed to hide from everyone.  A colleague had found out, but was in an accident that left him in a coma, and I was relieved that he hadn’t told anyone.  He started to heal (because in the dream, he had super-healing abilities, like Wolverine in X-Men) and, to stop my secret from being revealed, I cut off the top of his skull and adjusted his brain so that he wouldn’t remember.  He woke up and we were talking about the “thing” I was hiding, but he didn’t remember who did it.  I was so relieved, and also terrified that he would eventually remember.

Then, the scene changed and I was with a group of people standing on the roof of a large stadium arena.  An old school friend (who I hadn’t thought about for years) was there, and for some reason he knew about the “thing”, and that I was guilty.  I talked to him for a while and he then, to keep my secret, jumped off the roof of the stadium to the ground below and died.  I remember feeling happy that my secret was not going to be revealed – not sad that my friend had jumped, but happy for myself.

I woke up at that point and felt sick to my stomach about how cold and heartless I had been in the dream.  It took me a while to convince myself that it was only a dream.  I even looked my friend up on Facebook to find that he was okay.  (He is fine, BTW 🙂 )

I have been having vivid and disturbing dreams lately, and I think it is probably down to the work I am doing in therapy.  Therapy can be a wonderful, cathartic experience but it does tend to unearth some deep feelings that the brain has to work out.  I have old, deep, feelings of guilt, shame and fear that I have been dealing with lately so it is no surprise that these things are manifesting in my dreams.  I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I changed my mind because, well, screw it.  I am not afraid anymore to express my fears and anxiety and face rejection or judgement, thanks to a supportive family and good therapy.

If you do want to judge me, go ahead, enjoy yourself.  Oh, and also GFY! 🙂

Leaving the therapy nest…

I am coming to the “end” of my therapy sessions, and I don’t really know how to feel about it.  My therapist is going to be starting maternity leave in August, and I have such a great rapport with her, I don’t feel like I want to switch to another therapist, so I am coming to the end of the line for this course of sessions.  While I feel like I have probably gained enough tools to be able to maintain and deal with my depression & anxiety, and I have been doing a lot better lately, I still have some trepidation about flying solo.

I have considered support groups, both online and in-person, but I don’t know how I feel about it.  I enjoy being able to talk about what I am going through with people that understand and getting that extra support, but I know how much of a natural emotional “caretaker” I tend to be.  I’m concerned that I will end up taking on everyone else’s burdens and lose the progress I have made.  I don’t know enough people who have been to support groups to be able to get good feedback – I may just have to take the plunge and try some.  Finding ones local to me has been difficult, but there are a few possibilities.

One option I am considering is just sticking to an online groups for now, that way I can detach if I start to get overwhelmed.  There is a podcast that I listen to (“Mental Health Happy Hour” – mentalpod.com) that is awesome, and has a good online forum.  The forum is well moderated, so it keeps it genuine and non-judgmental.  I think I’ll throw myself into that for a while and see how it goes…

As always, feedback would be appreciated 🙂  Talk to you all again soon…

Forgiveness

Let’s talk about love.  Love comes in various forms:- love for parents, love for a spouse, love for a child, love for a favorite fruit pie etc.  I consider myself a very loving person, except for one area of love – love for myself.  This is an area that just doesn’t come easy for me.  I often feel inadequate and not “good enough” – this and other lies that my depression makes me buy into.

I am currently going through therapy to talk about various issues from my past, some of which directly contribute to my depression.  On thing that seems to come up is the guilt I carry around within myself, the guilt that tells me that I have failed people, the “if I had only” statements that play around my mind.  “If I had only” made more of an effort to reconcile with my brother, maybe he wouldn’t have felt so alone.  “If I had only” kept in touch with my best friend, maybe I would have had a chance to say goodbye to him.  These thoughts are hard to deal with, and my depression feeds on them like a ravenous wolf, fueling it and making it stronger.

So, how do I break the cycle?  In a word, forgiveness.  Forgiveness towards my childhood abusers?  Forgiveness to the bullies who mercilessly taunted and hit me all through my school life?  Forgiveness towards those who should have protected me, but didn’t?  These are all valid, but not the biggest one.  All of these are heads of the same beast, the anger and shame that I carry around because of things that were done “to” me.  They were not my fault, yet I carry the burden of them because I feel like I somehow could have stopped them.  Again, the “if I had only”s surface…

How do I start this?  Compassion.  Compassion for the abusers who, in their own way, we’re just as broken and wounded by their own demons.  Compassion for the bullies who were playing out a script handed to them from the generations before, afraid to look inside themselves and the anger and fear that drives them.  Most of all, compassion for the scared, weak child that I was, and the troubled man that he became.

It’s an ongoing process, but at least it’s one that I have l started.  Once I started to forgive, a weight started to lift.  I no longer feel quite as angry as I did.  I will never forget what happened, and it doesn’t mean that I will open up and blindly trust those people again, but if I can get to a point of forgiveness those memories won’t have the same weight to them that they once did.  When we hold on to the bitterness and shame of past events, all it does is poison us and make us sacrifice the joy of the present – which is all we really have in life.

There are so many wonderful things I my life, a wife who loves me, family that cares for me, a job that I love, and many others.  It’s time I started learning to enjoy the blessings…