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Alex

Do you have a moment to talk about triggers?

I’ve struggled to even put “two hundred crappy a day” down lately, I know there are things for me to write about. But concentration hasn’t been fantastic for a few months. The migraines and fogginess have certainly been in full force.

But I want to talk about triggers, I’ve been on the receiving end of them, and also caused some of them. The latter made me think about my mental health, and how it affects/affected others in my life. I remember a few years back when I had a break up with someone I stopped caring, and I think that was also probably the time when depression was given a kick and I started on a slow and steady decline.

My mental health took a blow, and it wasn’t pretty. I stopped tidying my house, I stopped cleaning my house, I barely ate. The worst thing that happened though was my weekly once or twice trip to the pub became a five to six night a week. I was drinking a lot, not to the state of blackout drunk. But enough that I was over the limit and still driving home.

I started to feel ill quite often, my stomach would feel horrible. I still kept going, my mental health was going downward until I reached a point where I couldn’t keep feeling like I was and stopped. But it also occurred to me, that wasn’t the worst thing that happened.

The worst thing was that no one stopped me, no one pulled me aside, no one asked how I was going. I just kept going to the pub, drinking, and going home.

Then earlier this year, I made a mountain out of a molehill with something that shouldn’t have concerned me in the first place. With someone drinking at 10am, but also someone who had battled a bit of a drinking problem when their mental health took a beating, and then when I thought about it a bit more. I had quite a few people I have cared about who have had a drinking problem and done the same thing.

I guess the point I’m making here is I cared about them enough that it made me angry about them having a drink early in the morning, rather than just drinking to get drunk, for celebration. But that I wasn’t able to express why it made me like that, and now I regret what happened.

We can’t just jump in a time machine and go back, unfortunately, but I do wish I’d never said anything and everything would still be good. But also at the time, I was going through a mental battle and keeping a lot of it hidden because I didn’t want to upset people. It feels like it was a subconscious trigger at the time, and while I did my best to try and explain it I never got the chance fully.

I’m not really sure what else to write on it, there’s still a lot on my mind. But I do miss someone deeply for my actions.

Cold, Creamy, Sugary Buffalo Theory

I won’t be talking about the Buffalo Theory from a Cheers episode, where Norm gives you a good logical reason to see why you can be smarter after drinking alcohol and killing a few brain cells, but do yourself a favour and look it up, it’s hilarious.

I’ll confess, I’m a bit of a fan of Elementary. A modern take on Sherlock Holmes, except that he’s a recovering drug addict, covered in tattoos, rather eccentric and Watson is played by a female and named Jane. Jane is essentially Sherlocks “sober companion”, a live-in at his house to make sure he doesn’t relapse into using drugs again, and the same thing happens for people who are recovering alcoholics.

It’s great to have someone to lean on and for advice when times get tough.

I was having a chat with a friend a few weeks back, and it has been something that has hovered in my head for some time. There’s a “sober companion” for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. But what about those of us in a recovery stage with a mental illness or mental health issue?

For some of us who’ve been down the rabbit hole of depression, there are times where you struggle to function and you’re blind to anything going on. It’s a certain form of tunnel vision. You don’t necessarily forget something, it’s more than you’re in such a state that you’re ignoring things. You ignore eating, you ignore doing the dishes, cleaning your house. You ignore going to the doctor when you should need it, you don’t do all the usual things you need to. The amount of times I’ve not wanted to go to the hospital or for X-rays and ultrasounds while feeling depressed is pretty high. But going with someone else would have been a blessing.

What would it be like if we had someone who was a “Recovery companion”? Someone who will head out with you while you do your grocery shopping, doctors appointments, meal preps, tidy your house and just give some normalcy to your life when it’s not normal at all.

From a personal view, I don’t think I’d want someone to be a “recovery companion” who hasn’t dealt with a mental health issue of some sort, and they are that happy-go-lucky type and are constantly positive. It’s more than likely going to just piss me off, you’d need someone who has compassion and understanding, and is able to know what the person is going through. Just telling someone who is in a bout of heavy depression to “just change how you think” makes me think of those “thanks, I’m cured” memes.

I have a great analogy for depression between those who’ve had it and understand it, and those who don’t. I can’t remember if I’ve heard it somewhere and I’m regurgitating it, or it’s something that’s come to my thoughts on my own. But either way, it seems to be relevant.

Telling someone not to be depressed is like telling someone ice cream tastes good, a depressed person knows it tastes good but the act of getting ice cream is the hardest thing on the planet. Instead, sometimes you just need someone to throw you in the car and take you out for ice cream to remind you it is good, and there are people around that understand your situation.

O’ father, where art thou?

When people take a look at me, I think my biggest fear is the last thing they would ever think if they had to go through a list of them. Someone standing over six feet and broad shoulders, just like all of my Uncles who were in the Black Watch in Scotland. We’ve never been short people.

But to see a grown adult male completely freeze up out of terror, and unable to spit a word out just from standing in front of a toddler isn’t something you would see every day, or see in your lifetime more than likely.

The first person to ever really notice I was terrified of children was Marissa, and that was the day I met Seth. I didn’t know back that, but that little pizza-eating dude would change my life, along with a little help from my friend.

To fully describe what it’s like to be terrified of something that will literally not hurt you might be a hard one to explain. But it really comes down to two things.

I would say I’m heavy-footed and don’t really know my own strength and I’m afraid I could knock them over and hurt them or something, and I don’t really want that.

I think the other is going to be harder to get into words. So I guess I’ll use an analogy for worst case scenario.

If I were to be in a public place, like a park or a cafe and to smile or pull a funny face at a kid just to make them laugh, I hope that’s all the parents around were to see it as. If they were to give me some kind of look or scold me for having some fun, and take it the wrong way I think it would reverse all the work that’s been done to get me where I am in terms of being around kids.

Marissa put a lot of trust in me to be able to interact with Seth and get comfortable around him, Seth’s always been pretty wise for his age. Which is why I’ve always called him the “little Buddha”, and I sensed he know I was awkward around him even at his very young age. Now he’s my dude, we get along great.

It stepped up a gear when Riss told me she was pregnant, I had to go outside the office and cry. Out of happiness for her mostly, but also that I get another kids I can bond with from a younger age. That sort of newborn age terrified me still. Nine months later there was Eli, who I’ve had a ball with. Picking him up and zooming him around the lounge room like Superman and chasing Seth doing it. I have a lot of fun with the boys.

I recently turned 37, and after a bit of thinking and a few things that have happened recently I can probably say that I want to have kids of my own. I just don’t want to be a father, anyone can father a child. But I want to be a Dad, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be a great one. But I’ll sure as hell try, and I’ll be terrified most of the time, but I know eventually I’ll settle on the idea and it’ll become second nature to me.

I want my mornings filled with cartoons and pancakes, and laughter. Not because I feel like it’s too late, but I’m finally feeling like I’ll be comfortable with the majority of it.

Nanna Matt

“I’m not a doormat, I’m a welcome Matt.” – MJM

My Nanna always had this saying, I’m not a doormat, I’m a welcome Matt. I guess it came down to the fact she was friendly but not to be taken advantage of and walked over. I wish I had some of that in me, I’m still learning about not being walked over and used by people.

I’ve had several memories pop back in my head over the past 12 months from other people in my life. I do miss my grandmother, she essentially raised me on a part time basis. I used to take a trip from Victor Harbour to the City (Edwardstown to be exact) once or twice a month, via the bus, and stay at her house on a weekend.

She lived in one of those red brick housing trust places. While the house has been levelled I can still remember it like it was yesterday. The royal red shag pile carpet in the lounge room, the kerosene heater that was in front of the fireplace. The retro lino and the laminex kitchen table to go with it.

On the warm summer nights I used to lay on her bed next to her under the window, and she’d tell me all sorts of stories. How when people turned 100 they’d get a letter from the Queen. Although she never quite made it to get one herself. How when they used to go to the cinema as a girl, and you wouldn’t just see a movie. You’d get news and all sorts of other things, all of it being fictional, like going to the moon. When eventually became a reality which she got to witness. She got to see some amazing feats, but also had to endure two world wars, the great depression and a handful of other smaller wars as well.

My Nan always had a fantastic sense of humour too, never crude. But quick witted. When I was a teenager around 16 or so she started nicknaming me “Creepin’ Jesus”. Someone of my stature who made no noise, and still don’t do this day, when they walk around. Later in life she lived with us as her age was getting on, down in Victor. She would be making a cup of tea and I would come out from being asleep and scare her because I’d be standing next to her and she wouldn’t have heard me coming, “jesus”. It happens now even with clients at work. Maybe I could have been a cat-burglar given how quiet I am! 

I do miss her a great deal, I think she was always wise when it came to life. I didn’t see it back then but I certainly see it now. There are times where I wish I was able to go and ask her for advice, but unfortunately I can’t anymore, and it’s been a long time since I spoke to her. I always struggled when it came to seeing her, after her stroke I think I wanted to preserve the memory of how great she was, and all those stories she told me. Rather than to see a frail woman in a nursing home who’s stuck between the 1940’s and 1990’s on a frequent basis.

Last year would have been her 100th birthday too.

Oh punishment, punishment

I’ve had another epiphany, or realisation, or maybe it’s just a reflection like usual.

I’ve had two people recently who have stepped in and out my life on a frequent basis. I’ve head to deal with some fairly heavy mental health issues, and considering my past. It’s probably the worst ones I’ve had, it’s required additional professional health in the form of a psychologist on top of my usual counsellor, and also medication to give myself some stability.

Whilst wallowing around inside this emotional abyss, I wasn’t entirely aware of what was going on around me. I wasn’t aware I was upsetting people with my behaviour, I know I said some upsetting things. They were meant in jest, and that some people knew what was going on in the first place. I guess some assumption.

Because one of them has exited my life, and it’s left me heartbroken. I feel like I’m being punished for someone that I am not. I never felt quite right for a while, in the long perspective of it. I don’t think I’d felt great since late 2017. I was down a lot, and it was a steady decline for quite some time, and then eventually just crashed and burned.

It doesn’t feel great for someone to abandon you, especially when you think the world of them and always think they’ll be there to support you. That’s why it feels like I’m being pushed indirectly, I know they need to do what’s good for them and I understand that. But it doesn’t change how I feel.

I’ve had someone else, who seems to come in and out of my life when it suits them. Dancing back and forth between them calling it a friendship and indication they want something more. It was hard to make contact with this person because of this, and also because of my mental health. I was always told by them to “take care” and “you do you”. When I try to do this I get spoken down too, which is ironic because they said I had spoken down to them like others had and they didn’t want that anymore, and they simply said “I’m done”, and I thought they were until I got a Happy Birthday message the day after my birthday, a day late because they didn’t want to “overstep”. Only for minutes later to be spoken down to again, something they didn’t like.

It’s hard to be able to stand up for yourself sometimes, I don’t feel like I deserved it. But I also know they are a sensitive person. While I was trying to look after my mental health and get myself into a half decent place, they were struggling with their own health. Again, when we made contact I had words put into my mouth, that I didn’t care about them. They were hostile towards me, and even when I’ve tried to be nice, they’ve continued to be. Once again, I feel like I’m being punished for looking after myself, something they said I should be doing. It’s confusing, and I know they have their own mental health issues as well, which makes it all the more confusing. Are they like this because of their mental health? or are they in a clear mind and actually angry at me? When I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong in the first place.

I still am struggling, trying to find the empathy I had towards other people, while trying to find the energy and care towards myself. It’s not easy, and I don’t think it is going to happen overnight.

Serenity Now!

I feel like an episode of Seinfeld at times. I need to yell “Serenity Now!” at the top of my lungs.

I’m wandering around the house tidying up because my parents are coming over, I don’t usually invite them over. Why? Because they are offensive, judgemental, and don’t keep comments to themselves.

I think last time I invited them over I was annoyed about why they needed to discuss with me for an hour about why I don’t have many pictures on my walls. Because I don’t want them? And how does this have any impact on them? It’s not their house and they are not here every day. Not only that, I don’t notice my walls when I’m walking around the house. It’s not an art gallery. Maybe it should be with some of my photos.

Since I’d invited them over, there’s been constant questions about what’s going on. Dad asked on Thursday, and Friday about what to do if they were pulled over by the police for non-essential travel. Given the fact that there are cars fucking everywhere still and people doing non-essential travel. But I had to remind dad that they can simply say they are coming to check on me as I have a chronic illness.

And again this morning while walking around the house thinking about it, they ring me and ask me for the third day in a row the same questions. Also that they are bringing dessert for after lunch, when I told them I’d sorted it, they still went ahead and did it anyway.

So I am essentially “panic tidying” my place so that they can’t see anything they can point at and start criticising me about. “Why is that there?” “What do you have that for?” “Why don’t you do this?”.

Wooooossaaaaaaa… serenity now.

Writely writerer

I think everyone spends a lot of time looking for the perfect writing tool, suiting their needs. Something that’s fast, functional, distraction-free and you can use it anywhere. WordPress is free and great for blogs, I can type into a post anywhere I want. But I do find the clutter surrounding the text box a bit distracting. Despite it having a full-screen mode it’s still not quite what I’m after.

Some people still stick to trusty old Microsoft Word, but to be honest. Word doesn’t feel like a good writing tool, for just putting text into something it’s a heavy program with a lot of clutter.

I had a look around at free apps and web-based software for it, tried a few but none really seemed to fit. I recently upgraded my desktop PC’s internal drive to something faster and larger storage. But I ended up having to reinstall windows, which is well overdue given the bugs I have with it on a regular basis, and crap everywhere across several drives. But while reinstalling I was asked to reactivate the Grammarly extension in Google Chrome, which when logging into their website reminded me that they have an app for Windows and Mac that is very basic and clutter-free. For writing stuff in, it’s ticking the boxes. I’ve installed it on my desktop PC, and my laptop, and I’ll try it out on the Mac soon enough.

Hopefully, I can use some of my time creatively and just writing about general bullshit that I don’t want to go online or have anyone read. I’d say we’re all going to have more time up our sleeves during the pandemic and needing hobbies to keep us busy.

Hard to Love

I’ve wondered lately about the dating game, relationships and what not, and where I fit into all of it. I haven’t dated a whole lot in the past few years, I haven’t felt in the right place for it. It’s not so much a fear of being hurt again, but that it inevitably happens anyway. In some form, someone will hurt me or disappointment, or not be the kind of person they were at the beginning.
I’ve dipped my toe in the pool a few times, only to take it out and continue to ignore it and not really go anywhere with it.

I think my mental health is part of it, I haven’t been in a good place for anything really. Now that I’ve made some moderate progress with it, it’s left me with a bit more time and energy to think about dating, and what I want. My problem is I haven’t really worked out what I want. I’m not interested in fake people, I know that much. I want honest people around me. The kind who know that being honest can hurt, but being dishonest and to later find out they were, hurts more than being honest in the first place.

I do miss having that special someone, but I find it hard to form a connection with anyone lately, and that may be down to the same fact that I had disassociated myself from empathy towards people, that I’ve also disassociated with others when it comes to forming any type of connection. There are some people I still have connections with, regardless of whether we still talk or not, people I love, people I care about. But that’s as far as they go now.

“In my opinon, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”
― Diablo Cody

I’d had a wonderful person in my life at one stage who thought the sun did shine out my ass. Even when things were down and I was struggling, there was still support. There was support and care even when things were good, and I do miss them immensely and always will. I’m definitely finding it hard to love myself lately, and also find that I’m hard to love by others, whether it’s just small things right through to my life may look highly complex to them and they want only parts of me. But I miss having someone who would stick by me, good or bad. Someone to share things with.

“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.”
― Deb Caletti

Quarantime-alone

There’s quite a lot of noise on social media at the moment about people being in isolation because of COVID19. Some seem to glorify staying home like it’s a new trend, the extroverts are starting to crawl up walls like Spider-Man because they can’t go out given restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and any non-essential business has had to close to keep the infection rate down.

For the introverts, it’s heaven. We never really went out that much and when we do, no ones around anyway. Need a trip into Rundle Mall? No problems, not a soul in sight. It’s like watching one of those zombie apocalypse movies with empty streets. But I can’t go down to the pub, have a cold pint, and wait for it to blow over. Because it’s closed.

There’s a lot of panic and paranoia. Most likely fuelled by how the media spins their news, creating more panic than there needs to be. In turn, creates uncertainty for a society that is anxious and tense a lot of the time. The fires, floods and almost World War 3 probably weren’t a good way to kick off a year either, it would have already had everyone highly strung.

I’ve decided to cease the opportunity of the quiet time and get as much done as I can on my various lists. I’ve replaced my shower head in the bathroom, I think I’ve spend close to two years looking at it spraying in all the wrong directions. Half an hour and $25 later, it’s fixed. I’ve put seals around the doors to keep the cold breezy air out in hope I won’t need to use my heating as much and keep my power bills down. Not because I’m tight, but $10 spent on foam strips and 20 minutes around the house might save me a lot over a year.

There’s also opportunity to read some more books, write in your blog more, take up a new hobby or revisit one. Get things done around the house you’ve been putting off, making something new or get creative in the kitchen, more family time with board games or movie nights. Life will slow down, people will live a slower pace for a while and they should embrace it. It’s like they look at isolation as punishment rather than as an opportunity to be doing something else.

Great Scott!

Whoa, this is heavy.

There’s been a lot on the past week, and while it hasn’t been stressful it’s just been a lot to take onboard. Work has been particularly busy due to everyone needing to be able to work from home, or remotely due to the whole COVID-19 outbreak. There is plenty of work and I’m keeping busy, but also trying to keep my distance from clients in case of those who are infected and may pass it onto myself.

On Wednesday I had my first psychologist appointment, it was at least a comfortable introductory session where we could talk about what’s going on, why and how we can go about working on them. My main concerns have been the depression, which seems to have been a side effect of my chronic illness, the last six months have probably been the worst of it. Speaking with both my counsellor and my psych, we’ve ended up in the general ball park that the Fibromyalgia had the side effect of depression and anxiety. But also that it’s had another side effect of disassociating with any of the empathy that I had before towards others in my life. In turn, this has cause some friction with others, and hurt them as well.

So working on that will be my main priority, and the psych is also giving me tasks on helping me manage pain with Fibro and also mapping some new neural pathways. It’s a start, and I’ll just have to keep going.

Friday I had another follow up appointment with my GP, just to see how the anti-depressants are going, and so far no major side effects. I feel stable, while just a tad low in mood. But not as low as the Dothep I was taking. It’s certainly doing a better job. We’re going to see how it goes for another month and reassess again, and I can also look at going up in the dose if I feel I need it.

Yesterday, was also my birthday. Schfifty-five, no. Just kidding, Thirty-Seven. I don’t feel any different to be honest. Maybe a tad of anxiety around life that I’m late 30’s and not doing all the things other people do like marriage and a family. I’m still trying to find my way. But that’s been a low level lingering feeling for quite some time. I’ve never been a big birthday person, I got a message just after midnight from Riss saying Happy Birthday, in her own way too. A few from the other people that count, and the ones I usually expect won’t remember or message.

I caught up with an old co-worker/house mate I haven’t seen in a couple of years, but we’ve kept in touch online a little, and he’s only 20 minutes away. I spent the evening with my parents, a simple dinner, some cake that put me in a sugar coma until this morning, and also watched John Wick with Dad as he’s never seen it. He enjoyed that and is going to watch the other two.

Today is just kicking around the house and doing a few things, and hopefully I get to hang with one of my favourite humans later this evening.

Having a Macbook dedicated to blogging is also helping me write more frequently and also have ideas for other things to talk about.