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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Scaffolding

Do you know what it's like to balance on top of a huge stack of carefully balanced scaffolding, which isn't really attached to anything and is dangerously wobbly, trying not to move too much in case you fall?
I do.
I live my life like this.
It's completely my fault of course, because I'm the one who built this dangerous structure. I'm balancing on a variety of different coping mechanisms, trying not to let them fail which could potentially send me over the edge.
It's a weird sort of place to be, on the edge of whatever you want to call it: sanity, normality, whatever. It's difficult to describe, but I'll do my best.
I feel unsteady, like I'm walking along on the edge of the kerb, like when you were a kid, balancing one foot precariously in front of the other as you tried to show off your impressive balancing skills. You have a knot in your stomach, because you know you're going to fall off at some point, and every now and then you have a serious wobble which makes your stomach leap up to your throat and back down again. It's fun, but it feels dangerous (probably due to then fast-moving traffic right next to you).
The feeling of being on that kerb isn't really all that pleasant, when you think about it, though for some reason you're still having fun - probably because of the adrenaline. It's normally seen as a good thing, adrenaline, but for me it's a problem because I react negatively to it. When I feel nervous and get that adrenaline rush we all get when we're nervous, I don't get a bit excited, I get anxious, and it builds until its out of control.
That's where the scaffolding comes in. Over time, I have built structures to try and cope with my negative reactions to adrenaline. Unfortunately, they have all proved unsuccessful and have lead to a complex build up of bad coping mechanisms. I am still trying to find a way to cope, using relaxation techniques, medication and hypnotherapy. So far, no good. I sit atop my pile of what I will bluntly refer to as crap, feeling pretty much, well, crap.
It's like, as I've said, being on edge. You feel nervous, with a tight chest and quickened breathing, which makes day-to-day activities difficult, like going out or seeing people. You don't want people to notice and leaving the safety of your home is a daunting prospect. It's a bit embarrassing, because you are literally shaking, which is just plain weird to be quite frank.
This can only be described as anxiety, which is something I struggle with daily. I've likened it to standing on a large unsteady structure, which is scaffolding in my mind. Just imagine being trapped up there alone, with no way down except to jump. Scary stuff, eh?
To make things worse, I am aware that the structure is not stable and it will eventually collapse and I will fall. It's not made of sturdy metal poles and planks of wood like normal scaffolding, it's made of all the things that I haven't dealt with in life, which have collected in a pile of wibbly-wobbly-shitty-crappy mess which will get on top of me eventually.
I can't be sure when this will happen, but I know it will.
All I can do is hope that when it does, there will be something there to catch me. It could be me, if I ever find a way to cope, but if not then maybe someone will be there. Any takers?


Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas

Christmas is a time to be happy and jolly and merry and all that stuff. A time with your family and friends, to eat and enjoy yourself. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I deserve it.
To anyone out there reading, have a great Christmas because you probably deserve it too.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Decisions

We all have to make decisions, both big and small: what brand of laundry detergent shall I buy, what university shall I apply for, shall I propose, and the list goes on. Some people are naturally decisive, quickly determining their answer to all questions and some people are so indecisive that they actively avoid having to make important decisions. But for the most of us, we are in the middle, finding just a few of the most important decisions a challenge and generally coping with the day-to-day decisions that life throws at us.
For me, it depends on the day. Some days are good for decisions and some days aren't so good. On the good days I try to do as much as I possibly can while I can.
It's annoying to say the least.
I wish I could say that I would be fine everyday but I simply can't.
More recently the decisions I have to make have become more important and this has made it all the more challenging. Big decisions are always going to come around someday because life is like a winding path with forks and crossroads which lead in many different directions. Our choices lead us down trickier paths, blocked by thorns or up steep hills and some might take you on a smoother and easier path.
For me I'm at a very important crossroads. The path I choose will be a final and very life-shaping one. To make it all the more difficult the sign is all worn and I can't read the options for each direction. Once I've made my decision and chosen a path, there's no going back. And every path is uphill and uneven. That much I do know.
The weird thing is that I'm not that fussed about the challenges ahead. Maybe it's because I don't have a choice or maybe I've forgotten how to care about anything. Either way I feel like I'm just floating along, waiting for something to happen, but it never does.

I've put a break in the text there for a reason. I've completely lost what direction I was heading in with my writing. Just like I have in my life at the minute. I feel lost and floaty and sort of useless. And I can't seem to shape the words for this post either. So for now I have to stop, take a break and just be. As they say, let the chips fall where they may.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End of the World

Today is the alleged apocalypse.
So far there have been no signs of this. All seems normal.
Last night I dreamed I was part of an indigenous tribe in some unknown but tree-filled country. We live in a treehouse suspended on one singular rope, which was a very delicate setup and it was clear that we could fall at any time. We were under attack from an outside force, who threatened to destroy our civilisation. We rallied our troops and armed with bows and arrows, we fought to protect our home.
We won.
I like to think that this is somewhat of a mini prediction of my own. It just seems too unfair to end the world before Christmas, my favourite time of year.
Besides, negative thinking isn't going to get you anywhere - trust me.
But for a little while, for me until a bit further on in this post, let's imagine what the 'end of the world' might bring.
Disaster is the first thing we think of, usually of the natural kind like earthquakes and volcanoes. A vision of fire and smoke if typical of an apocalyptic scene.
Then we imagine the breakdown of civilisation as people rebel against systems in order to survive.
After this we imagine survivors and how they struggle and fight to keep their lives.
But who's to say that this traditional apocalypse is the one we'll get?
Perhaps disaster means something entirely different, or perhaps it's already begun.
There is plenty of wrong in our world, like hunger, war and extinction of species. These surely are signs of a failing world, which is what we expect from an apocalypse. What I'm trying to say is maybe we are already in an apocalypse but we just haven't realised or maybe can't accept it.

Away from all this doom and gloom and back to me me me!
I feel like I've been through my own personal apocalypse. It began with the disaster, or what is more commonly known as a nervous breakdown.
Now this sounds more serious than it actually is. A nervous breakdown can take many shapes and can entail a variety of things. For me it came as another bout of depression, with the addition of panic attacks. It was pretty scary to experience a panic attack for the first time properly. I've felt panicky before but this was new. I had no idea what was happening and basically thought I was going crazy.
The worst thing is not knowing what's happening, much like when a natural disaster happens. You are lost and don't know what it going on or when or if it will get better.
It feels like you are on the edge of sanity, like being on the very edge of a crumbling cliff-face and not knowing whether it will crumble beneath your feet or not. It's terrifying, to be quite honest, just like it would be to be caught in the middle of an earthquake or tornado or something similar. 
After being told it was a panic attack it became much more manageable, but that first month was scary as hell. 
Then there's the next stage, which is where you have to learn to live with the problem. You have to survive. It's like a big fight or struggle at first and you can't see how it's going to get better. But it does. Eventually. 
You don't really have a choice but to carry on. It's the hardest thing to do, carrying on when you don't know if things will get better. You aren't living, you are just being.
You start to question yourself, and change the way you think to try and get rid of the problem. But it never works. You can't give up though, because you've come so far already, so you battle yourself continuously trying to get through.

After this stage comes to aftermath. But I'm not there yet.
I'll let you know if I survive the end of the world.

The tale of Kate and Mr. Rat

Today as I walked home, a small rodent, which I guessed was a rat and so named it Mr. Rat, darted out of a small bush and into a hole nearby. I was slightly shocked and I must say a little delighted and this peculiar sight, as I think rats are cute and cuddly, even though they spread the black plague (after all it's not really their fault).
There's no doubting that Mr. Rat did not want to be seen, as he ran so fast to be hidden again, but I can't help but wonder why he didn't wait for me to go past before showing himself. Either he didn't see or hear me, or he deemed me safe enough to see him for just a second. I like to think it was the latter.
In some ways, I can relate to Mr. Rat. His decision was not an easy one, and the wrong decision could have endangered his life. I have some important decisions to make too, and though my life is most likely not in danger, the decision I make will most certainly change my life.
If I were Mr. Rat would I dart out of the bush, taking a risk which could lead to a good or bad outcome? Or would I wait until the danger has passed? How am I supposed to know which is the better decision?
The answer is: I don't.
I can either take the risk or not and I will never know which decision will be better.
If you had asked me two weeks ago I would have stayed in the bush and hid, but now I'm not sure. I don't really know. Surely it's better to take a risk on the off-chance that something good will come of it.
Mr. Rat has been somewhat of an inspiration to me, daring me to follow in his footsteps into the unknown. I quite like the idea to be honest, and I'm not a quitter or backer-outer. I like a challenge.
But will the risk pay off? Who knows.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Tightrope.

The road to recovery is long. I'm about to embark on this epic journey and I must say I'm scared.
I'm scared to find out what is wrong.
Scared to find out nothing is wrong.
Scared to delve into the never ending box.
I'm scared of myself.
And the worst thing is that I can't escape from it either.
The journey must happen.
I'm standing on the edge of a huge cliff and the only way across is over a tightrope.
I can't go back because I battled through enough to get here in the first place.
I have to take a step into the unknown and hope that everything will be OK.
How will I do this?


Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Update.

The other day my computer rebooted and automatically updated.
I find it irritating when this happens because I have to wait for like 145679 processes to be done and afterwards there doesn't seem to be any difference. For that reason, in spite of the fact that I haven't updated in a while, this update will be short and sweet.
I've been alright, not perfect, but alright.
I've been doing well, like keeping up to date with uni work and such.
My personal life has also blossomed, bringing about romance - yes, romance!
Believe it or not, I've actually managed to bag a man in my state. He must be mad.
He is sweet, considerate, understanding, and completely perfect for me.
It's nice to have something in my life which is completely normal. I hope that doesn't sound bad.
What I mean is he makes me feel like everyone else. He doesn't treat me differently, even though I've got all these problems. It means a lot to me.
So to my un-named mystery man: thanks.
And I haven't seen you today and I miss you.
Enough of that mushy crap now. I'm off to bed. I will write some more tomorrow.

Friday, 23 November 2012

I'm in a cycling mood

I can compare my mood to cycling. Along I go, happy as Larry (I want to meet this Larry by the way as he seems to always be happy), switching my gears up as I get into the swing until KABOOM.
I crashed.
Not only this but my bike is now in a really high gear and it's really difficult to get going again.
This is what life is like.
Along I go, getting more and more into life and enjoying it, until I crash. For some reason I just can't seem to keep myself steady. And it's super hard to pick up the pieces.
My mood cycles round and round like this and I'm sick of it.
Every time I'm on an up, I know I'm going to come down and every time I'm down it's really hard to get back up.
Any suggestions? Anyone?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Giving Up.

No it's not what you think! I'm not a defeatist, honest!
But I have given up a lot of stuff.
I'm a serial 'googler' of pretty much everything so of course I've been 'googling' away to find out anything that might help me to get better.
And giving some stuff up was certainly on the menu.
I am teetotal, I don't smoke and I don't have any caffeine. Straight edge, huh?
I haven't found it at all difficult to give up any of these things. They seem so pointless now.
Being quite the party-animal last year, you'd think I would miss going out on the town and get absolutely shitfaced, but to be honest I am having a better time not drinking. I don't miss the dizziness, lack of control, super-calorific-content, general confusion and hangovers. It all seems a bit pointless to me now.
I'm not saying I'll never drink again, because who knows, but taking this somewhat voluntary but mostly involuntary vow of abstinence has given me a whole new perspective on the matter of alcohol.
I didn't realise just how much it is a part of daily life it is until I wasn't partaking in any of the activities.
It's the same with caffeine. I don't miss it, I don't need it and you can get decaff everything anyway - which is great for me 'cause I love love love espresso and a cup of tea in the morning is the ideal way to start your day.
In terms of the difference made to my life by abstaining from these common drugs, I would say I am healthier. In the long run, I'll be doing my body less damage and in the short term my medication won't get messed up. So it's a win-win for me I guess.

I won't drink alcohol or caffeine if you offer it to me. And that is my choice. I will try anything that might help with my situation because I'm sick of it. I gave them up because one website said it could possibly help. Desperation would be a good way of describing my motives for 'giving up'.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Kate's Trip to the Psychiatrist

Today I had my very first appointment with a psychiatrist.
It went well, I think.
I don't really know what to say about it, to be honest, and I don't know what I got out of it.
I have to go back in January because my symptoms could be down to a range of different problems, so one visit isn't enough. I've also been referred to see a psychologist to see what they say.
It's a waiting game. Again.
I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I feel as though everything I've done over the past few months has been leading up to this appointment and it's been a bit of an anticlimax.
I arrived early just in case I might miss my appointment and waited for a little while before being taken into an interview room.
It was a plain room with a desk and squishy chairs. The chair was a lot squishier than what I'd first anticipated, so when I sat down I landed and then sunk downwards quickly, causing my stomach to jolt a bit. Then the interview began. I felt like I had to say the right things and wasn't sure if I was.
We talked about how I had been feeling and I pretty much read off printed-out pages of this blog, because it's so hard to phrase on the spot.
Before I knew it, an hour had passed and the interview was over.
After speaking to one more consultant for a little while, it was decided that the best course of action was to carry on my medication as it is and come back in January for another assessment.

Waiting. I hate it.
Of course I am perfectly happy to queue, as all British people are, because you know that somewhere ahead of you is the end of the line and you will get there.
But waiting for this is horrible. I just can't seem to get a straight answer.
I know it's better to wait and get an accurate diagnosis but at the same time I feel as though I'm just getting worse and worse as time goes on.
Hopefully things will get better.
I've got you guys, my readers, if you're out there! I'm going to need you while I wait in limbo, neither cured nor diagnosed. I'll keep posting if you'll keep reading and I'll get through this - in theory. In practice is a whole different kettle of fish.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Anxiety

Here's a whistle-stop tour of anxiety from my point of view, that view being the driving seat (as opposed to the passenger seat or back seat - i.e. doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists etc.).

Anxiety can be defined as an overwhelming feeling of worry, fear, paranoia and stress. Everyone will experience some anxiety at some point in their lives, but the anxiety I refer to is much more serious than just getting stressed every now and then. I will describe the actual feeling of an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms


Mental:

  • constant worry and fear for no obvious reason
  • trouble concentrating - making it through a normal length television show is even a challenge
  •  feeling on edge, tense and alert, like you need to be ready because something bad is about to happen
  • irritable - everything can get on your nerves: people, things not going the way you want to, etc.
  • restless - you can't sit still and often will have a nervous tremor. I find I have the shakes a lot or I tap my foot incessantly without realising
  • nightmares
  • a feeling of being trapped
  • mind blanks - my mind goes blank mid-sentence and I completely forget what I was saying. I also experience some memory loss, for example I can struggle to remember what happened yesterday or last week.
  • need for constant reassurance and being dependant on others - it's easy to become to reliant on friends because you can't deal with things on your own. I find that I latch onto someone very easily and change my dependence to other people very easily, like a child would when looking for parental figures.
  • obsession with trivial things, such as feelings and emotions
  • hypochondria - feeling that your symptoms mean you have a serious health problem
  • feeling that people do not like you or want you around
  • guilt for feeling the way you do, leading to crazy arguments with yourself for a) having a problem b) feeling guilty about said problem and c) telling yourself off for blaming yourself for the problem
  • easily startled or surprised because you are always on edge so the smallest thing can send you into shock and a panic attack

Physical:

  • increased heart rate - my chest feels tight and I am constantly aware of my pulse rate. I worry that it's too fast, which makes me more nervous and exacerbates the problem
  • faster breathing because you feel like you can't breathe
  • slow immune system - because your body is in 'fight or flight' mode, your immune system does not have priority meaning you get ill much more easily
  • slow digestive system - the same as above. I have irritable bowel syndrome, which is most likely because my body has it's focus elsewhere
  • tensed muscles - blood flow to major muscle groups is increased making them tense because your body thinks it needs to be prepared
  • frequent headaches because of increased blood pressure and excess adrenaline
  • recurrent nausea, again because of the body's response to your anxiety
  • pallor - skin goes pale which makes me look ill and generally unhealthy all the time. This is at it's worst when I have a panic attack.
  • trembling or shaking because of high blood pressure and adrenaline. This makes simple tasks like writing very challenging.
  • sweating because the body is preparing to deal with a threat
  • fatigue from not sleeping/sleeping too much/never sleeping deeply - the feeling of exhaustion is horrific, because you  desperately want to rest but you can't.
  • mydriasis - pupil dilation, which makes you feel dizzy and like you can't see properly


I have described the feeling of true anxiety as best I can here and I cannot stress enough how awful it really feels. I will usually be experiencing a lot of these symptoms at one time and when things are really bad, it is likely that I will experience all of them.
I find it interesting that anxiety can be so physical, as it is a mental illness. There is a lot of preconception and misjudgement of mental illnesses and I hope by describing mine in detail here that you will begin to truly understand what it is like from the point of view of us, the people who suffer from such things, and not from the medical or psychological side.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Just Say No.

Today I took a day off. And I feel no remorse, even though I missed some stuff and let some people down.
Sometimes you have to prioritise yourself (I've mentioned this before) and it's no use pushing yourself too far because in the long term it's damaging.
I spent today wrapped in my duvet watching films. And it was glorious.
One of the hardest things to do in life is to say 'no', but you've just gotta do it!
No, I will not buy your overpriced sofa.
No, I will not claim back my PPI.
No, I will not accompany you to the bathroom because you need me to use the hand-dryer while you pee.
You get the point.
I am officially starting the 'Just Say No' campaign.
Try it once in a while.
Obviously you can't be completely selfish and say 'no' to everything but saying 'yes' most of the time definitely earns you a few bonus 'no's'.
Just do it.
Say 'no'.
Yes?

Ah, nearly got you there!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Sad Life of a Window Display.

Window displays are the life and soul of a shop. Without them we simply could not judge what the true contents of the shop might be. You would never dare to enter a shop before checking out what they offer, lest some unknown product be forced on you with no warning, tempting you with it's unknown qualities. No, it is far more safe to stop before shopping and try before you buy, particularly with all these economic crises.
A window display can inform you of the shops contents, tempt you into the shop or even put you off if it's not to your taste. A lot of time and effort will be put in to ensure maximum efficiency in the window displays job.
However, we never stop to think what it might be like to be that window display. There is sits for a while, being appreciated by a few passers by, ignored by others and sneered at by some disapproving shoppers. Then it goes out of fashion and is shoved aside to make room for the new and exciting stuff which will take it's place. And then what? The life of that display is spent, and it disappears from sight and memory.
I feel like my mind is a window display: observed by some, purposefully ignored by others and sometimes just not noticed at all.
There I sit in my allocated window pane, being examined by the masses who pass by. Some will stop and stare for a while, and might even be of some company, but mostly it's a quick glance and walk on by.
Around me sits variety of things, all of which can only be described as piles of crap. Yes, crap. All my crap is strewn about for all the world to see, but that's fine because most people don't notice anyway.
Sometimes a passer by might take pity on me, stuck behind a window in a big pile of rubbish and offer me a hand out. Unfortunately, my display is due to stay for a while, so unless they went through the complicated process of speaking to a shop assistant, then a supervisor and a store manager and so on, it's pretty pointless to try. Though the gesture is appreciated.
No, I am doomed to sit in this crap until someone decides it's about time there was a new display.
I can't just get up and walk away from it, because the doors are locked and the glass is thick and sort of like that glass where you can see in but I can't see out. I'm trapped.
The metaphor here, in case you didn't guess, is me feeling isolated from the world with nothing seeming to be able to reach me and help me out. Except the shop assistants with their magical key and knowledge of the best way to dress a display for maximum public interest. When they finally decide it's about time to change my window display, I will be free.
But then what?
What about all my piles of crap?
As much as they are a burden, they are still mine and I cannot simply abandon them. I have to take them with me, until I am ready to let go.

Translated, this analogy refers to the extreme loneliness one feels when depressed. You cannot see a way out and feel completely trapped. You also feel like nobody really cares, even though you've laid it all out for everyone to see. But there is a glimmer of hope. There are some days that aren't so bad, and you can see that there are people there: friends, doctors, anyone. And this is what you must hold on to while you sit, buried in your problems.

Then there's the other side of the window. The side where you can only look in. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing myself in the window, but I'm not really there. I can view the problems and the crap but I can't get to it because it's locked in the tiny display room.
Again I feel isolated and empty, because I have been separated from my problems. You would think this would be a good thing, and that it would give me a break to not always have to carry them around, but it isn't. In a way they have become a security blanket and something for me to hide behind.
If I can't access my problems, then I can't resolve them, so I must either be trapped with them, or live knowing they are constantly there behind the glass of the window.

The shop window is just another mechanism I have created in order to keep up appearances and look either fine or not. Whether you as a shopper wants to take an interest in this is up to you. My problems are not your problem but you may view them if you wish and you can offer a hand when I'm trapped in the window. But eventually you will have to walk on by, for there are many windows on a street and many people that are trapped, and you cannot choose to prioritise one over another, no matter how well laid out a particular display is.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

It's not a dream.

Dreaming is activity that everyone will partake in at some point in their lives, even if they don't know it. While we rest our bodies, our mind processes all those day to day things into important stuff and junk, much like sorting through your e-mails. You sift through, selecting some that are definitely rubbish, reading and checking others just in case there's some important piece of information in there before you send it into the unknown realm of the 'deleted' section of cyberspace. Our minds jump around, forming patterns and stories from the past days events, so that we can process them more easily. In other words, we relive our day through some kind of virtual movie. Or something.
I don't think you can fully explain dreams, like why we have them or what they mean, but it seems sensible to assume that they have a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't exist.
But when is a dream not a dream?
Have you ever had a dream so realistic that you wake up and feel confused about what happened in it and have feelings and emotions which don't correlate with your current life pattern? Most people can say that this has happened to them, and I am certainly one of them.
So, when this occurs should we take note and wander what on earth it means? Is it a sign of some kind? Or did our brains simply not have enough time during sleep to sort out all those memories into important stuff and junk?
We will never know - and that's a bit scary.
Sometimes I wake up and my dreams are still there in the forefront of my mind and I can't seem to just let go. It's these times when I have to be extra careful or I'll lose my grip on reality.
When I'm asleep I can do anything: run, jump and even fly. I can say whatever I want and think whatever I want and nobody can stop me because it's my own private universe with all my own rules.
Being suddenly yanked from that state of bliss when waking is unsettling. That's a understatement.
Sleep is the only time that I can just be me, without any mask or stalker or colour to label my mood. I can go wherever I want and do whatever I want without fear, because nothing is real, so nothing matters.
When a dream is so vivid it's possible to think that it's not a dream when you wake up.
When that happens, it's like my body is in the real world but my mind is not. It's still dreaming, and in dreamland I am Queen. I can do anything.
This is dangerous.
Because I can't do anything and everything I want. Life restricts me.
Sometimes I'll say the wrong thing and put my foot in it, so to say, without even realising it. The things around me appear different to normal, and I can't seem to place them properly, like when you miscount the stairs and there's that moment where your foot hasn't landed on a step when you expected and your stomach jolts. I see things that aren't there and hear things which didn't sound.
Does this make me crazy or just really bad in the mornings?
I don't know.
According to experts this is called 'Dissociation', which is a coping mechanism used subconsciously by people with anxiety problems, causing them to detach themselves from reality in order to avoid a negative situation.
Sounds legitimate to me.
But I still wander: what if everyone is wrong, and my dream world is the real one, not this one where I am ruled by laws and expectations instead of my own judgement. How do I know that I'm not in a nightmare when I'm awake, and I'm living when I'm asleep?
Again, I don't know.
I just find it interesting that your mind can be awake when your body is asleep, but it can't be the other way around: the body is the dream and the mind is reality.
There are some things in the world that we cannot explain, and I don't believe it's always wise to pursue ultimate knowledge. Some things are better left unsaid and undiscovered. Dreams are one such example. To pursue something which is not real is surely just encouraging an existence in the unknown and the unreal, which promotes that unhealthy state of dissociation.
I do enjoy that state, because I feel so free, but too much freedom leads to misjudgement and over-confidence, a luxury which is not worth the consequences.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Getting Help.


Here goes another fabulous analogy.
Getting help is like the process of finding your favourite band.
First of all, you look at all the people around you and see what they like. Most of the time people like to fit in somehow, and music taste can be one such way. We compare our tastes to everyone else's and then determine the best path to musical popularity. Perhaps rock music is in, so you listen to rock. But sometimes it's cool to not listen to what everyone is listening to, so you find a group of people that do that and follow them instead. Either way, you will most likely find a particular band or artist that you come to really like.
You might then decide to go and purchase some of their music, watch their music videos and maybe follow their personal lives too via television and the Internet. You get the know them a bit and learn more about what they are like.
After that, you may have come to like them so much that it's time to take another step forward: face to face meeting. Well, that's difficult with famous types, so a concert will have to do. You find out the date of the concert and anxiously wait by your computer for the ticket sales to go live - gotta get in there before they sell out!
Finally the tickets are out and the mad rush begins. You battle through the slow-loading pages on the ticket site, waiting in queues of other people who are also trying to get their hands on those much coveted tickets. One ridiculously large booking fee later and you're in; you have the tickets.
The wild excitement and thrill: you are finally going to see 'insert band name here' live!
Next you begin the long wait for the actual date, fantasising about what the concert will be like. Which songs will they play? What will their outfits be like? Will there be any surprises?
You might even keep up with the speculations about the event in music magazines and online.
It's the day of the concert.
You get dressed in the appropriate genre for your chosen band.
You set off early because you simply cannot wait any longer.
You arrive at the venue; you can barely contain your excitement.
There's a massive queue to get in but that doesn't phase you. You will get to this concert and all your dreams will be fulfilled. At the door you are examined for any disallowed objects (i.e. booze you haven't bought there so they make maximum profit) and finally you are in! You're here! You can see the stage, the actual stage, that 'band name here' will perform on.
Determined to get the best possible view, you begin making your way through the crowd. Everyone is restless waiting for the concert to begin, so you find you have to push and force your way through. For some reason you seem to be the shortest and most delicate person there, and your choice of ballet pumps now seems foolish and your toes get repeatedly stood on. But never mind that you're halfway there! Just a bit further and you will be right next to the stage.
The concert begins and you are still stuck behind some six-foot-and-quite-a-bit guy, who must do rugby or something because he's the width of a bus. You shove your way through. You must see this band.
More pushing, a bit of bruising, a broken bag from it getting caught on someone and a lost earring later and you're there at the front. The band is right in front of you. Living the dream, eh?
Well, yes - even though you're being crushed to death by the excited crowd behind you and some girl is screaming so loud you can't hear those vocal harmonies you love so much. No,wait, it's not good. You've been fooled by excitement and agitation and you realise that this you feel awful being crushed and screamed to death.
It's not what you expected. You are distressed and you don't feel safe. You try to clutch your possessions close and keep all limbs tucked in to avoid more serious injury.
Just as you think you will have to leave because it's all too much, you look up, and your favourite band member is kneeling in right front of you on the stage. They hold out their hand. You can't believe it. You are pulled up on stage and meet every band member and dance with them and you are overwhelmed and happy and all those good emotions. The adrenaline rush is incredible; they picked you! But you can't really stay there for the full gig so you take the only possible route back into the crowd: jump and surf.
Hands reach up and catch you and you float along feeling free and weightless with your favourite song playing. You have had the best night of your life.
The next day or week or even month you are still buzzing from that night, and for the rest of your life you always remember that night when you saw that band playing. Or if you're feeling down you remember how good you felt jumping from the stage and being caught instead of falling.
That concert changed your life.

Comparing this to getting help, you ask? Well, it's quite simple really. It takes fecking ages but when you do get it's bloody fantastic.
You need determination, drive, strength, will and all those sorts of things to get through all  the complex systems and see the right people. All those things people with depression don't have. How convenient.
Right now I've got my ticket but I haven't been to the concert yet. I'm in for the long haul and the queues and crowds in front of me are bigger and more daunting than you can ever imagine.
But (there's always a but isn't there?) it's not that scary for me. And for a good reason.
This is a shout out to everyone who has helped me so far. I can't name you because I haven't asked, but to my family: your endless love and support, even though you are so far away, is felt deep in my heart and I love you all to the moon and back a thousand million times; to my close friends, who are there for me physically and emotionally everyday; and to everyone who has said something supportive, asked me how I am and meant it or even smiled at me: thank you. You are my crowd. Instead of pushing through, you are allowing me to surf to that stage and meet the band. And I know that when I need to leave the stage, you will all be there waiting to catch me.


One final mention. This person has done more for me than I deserve. She is the best friend I have ever known, and she can't even imagine how much she means to me. Without her, I would be lost in the depths of depression. One smile and I know everything is going to be fine. One word and all my troubles are lifted off my shoulders.
To Katy, thank you is not enough.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Am I a Superhero?

Everybody wears a mask. It's the face we put on for whatever the situation might require; there's the 'I'm-talking-to-someone-more-important-than-me-therefore-must-be-polite' mask, which we use for our boss or teacher or parents when we're in trouble, for example. Everybody needs a mask to get by in society, or we would be outcasts. Having your moody mask on whilst out on a dinner date or your fun and excitable mask on at a funeral are two such examples that are not acceptable, even if those are our feelings at the time. We need to be accepted, be liked, hide our emotions and we sometimes need to lie and deceive people. Without our masks we would be bare and naked, with our emotions laid out for the world to see, and most people are not prepared for this vulnerability.I am an extreme example of this. If you met me, you would never guess that I suffer from depression. I am upbeat and chatty and generally very likeable (so I'm told).
I have created a mask so flawless that even I sometimes can't tell I'm wearing it. It has been a way for me to hide from all the emotions I have boxed up for so long and a way to hide the fact that I've got those kinds of emotions from other people.
I'm a well known gossip-er and know-er of everyone elses business. I even gossip about my own business. However, the true me, the one with all the feelings and mushy rubbish, is hidden away and not many people have seen this i.e. me when I'm not wearing a mask.
So far it's been a very effective way for me to hide from the fact that I'm not fine and that there are problems that I need to resolve. But even though I've accepted this now, I still can't seem to get rid of my mask.
It's not necessarily a negative thing, because it allows me to function normally and socialise and such; but at the same time I feel as though it's causing me to bottle up everything that bothers me, increasing the pressure on my already exhausted emotinal side. 
I like to think that this makes me like a superhero. Superheroes never complain and are always prepared to drop all their plans to come to the rescue. They deal with every situation presented to them and always come out on top. Nobody knows their true indentity, except a select few. Their personal lives are completely disrupted by all the saving they have to do of course, but at any time could they choose to stop and lead a normal life? No. You can't run from destiny.
So why do they hide who they are? Why not just say 'Hey everyone, I am Superman. Deal with it'? Well the baddies would find out of course! And then everyone associated with them would be in danger.
Superheroes have no choice but to put on that mask, save the day, and pick up the pieces of their real lives later.
That's what it feels like to me.
I have to hide who I am to protect the people around me. I don't want them to see me when I'm not alright so they don't have to deal with it. I don't want to be a burden on other peoples lives.
But it takes a lot of strength to keep the mask up when emotions are furiously bubbling up under it, the same way that it takes a lot of strength for Superman to lift up a bus to save the child trapped under it. It's getting to that point where I can't keep it up anymore, and sometimes the emotions leak through, and the mask has become cracked and worn. People can tell that there's something not quite right about the way I am.
It's like that bit in a Superhero movie where they've fallen in love and all the mysterious disappearances at the same time as Superman showing up somewhere start to give the game away.
In the end, the girl always finds out the true identity of who they thought was a normal guy, and she always wants to be with him anyway, despite all the danger.
Is it the same for me? If I remove my mask completely will people still like me and still want me around?
If not, well quite frankly you can feck off. You either take me as the full package or don't take me at all.
I am Superwoman. Deal with it.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The In's and Out's of Depression

I think it's about time that somebody did an in detail description of what feeling 'depressed' is actually like. Of course the term 'depressed' can be used in many contexts and to describe a vast array of emotions, but what I will describe here is what clinical depression feels like.
Firstly, there is the medical side of this illness. I use the word 'illness' here because one type of depression is actually due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Either not enough serotonin is produced or the receptors in the brain are unable to detect it for some reason. This can be treated in many ways, with anti-depressant drugs being one such method.
There are also many other psychiatric conditions which come with bouts of depression: borderline personality disorder, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar, post traumatic stress, need I go on?
What I'm trying to get at here is that depression is common - very common. Plus it usually comes with a side order of other things that you didn't want too.
The causes of depression are varied. Some argue that traumatic events are the main cause, other go for genetics and some even claim that it's caused by certain medications and other medical type things. I say: who gives a crap? Let's just deal with the damn thing.
To give depression a definition is pretty much impossible because every person will experience it differently. You can, however, safely assume that you would feel sad, low, blue, whatever you want to call it. I'll call it feeling utterly shite.
When I'm at my lowest, I feel all the usual things: sadness, loneliness, not enjoying anything, no appetite, difficulty sleeping etc. All the symptoms you find on 'are you depressed' quizzes. But what is this actually like? Feeling sad and lonely is inevitable at some point in your life, but does it make you depressed?
True depression cannot be categorised this way. When I am in that place, I feel numb. It's like there's a barrier between me and the world and I can watch everyone go by, smiling and laughing, but they can't see me or they just don't want to. I feel so alone and I know that nothing will change it and nobody will ever care.
I'm so tired that you can barely even get out of bed. Washing and eating are definitely not your priorities.
I also feel extremely guilty for feeling this way, like I haven't got a reason to justify this feeling. I blame myself for it, but then feel guilty for being so hard on myself and blame myself for that too. It's basically a vicious circle.
I don't enjoy things at all, even the things I love the most. If I'm around people, I can't connect with them. I don't enjoy eating my favourite food or watching my favourite film. In fact my concentration is so bad I can barely get through an episode of a television show.
Anxiety usually accompanies depression with me, and I'm constantly on edge, waiting for something bad to happen. My chest feels tight and I feel like I can't breathe. Then the paranoia starts and I feel like everyone is against me somehow and they don't want me around.
Sometimes I start to cry and it just doesn't stop.
During these times I can't remember positive memories or have feelings of hope; they just aren't there. It's nearly impossible for me to do day to day things like read or listen to music or leave my flat.
It's at these extremely low times when I am vulnerable to suicidal thoughts. Of course I do not want this, and I'm terrified when I have these thoughts, like it's somebody else planting them in my mind.
Then there's the physical side. Not only does depression affect my mind, but my body takes a good beating too. The tiredness is one such example, but it goes further than that. Tiredness prevents me from doing a lot of things: washing, eating and even just moving, which of course has negative effects on my health. My muscles ache for no real reason, like they are constantly tensed - I usually blame this on the anxiety. I feel as though I'm in fight or flight mode, again because I am so anxious, so my digestive and immune system are not fully functional. I suffer irritable bowel syndrome because of this, which is horrific, and it takes me longer to fight off simple illness like the cold.
I often have the shakes, be it because of the medication or the anxiety or whatever, it's still impractical for simple things like writing, buttoning up a coat or getting a key into a lock.
Sometimes I have to get people to do simple things for me, just because my body won't allow me to.
It's like I'm elderly already but I'm only 20 years old.

I used to think that depression wasn't a real illness and that you just needed to pull yourself together and move on. I was wrong. When you are in that place, there is nothing you can do to get out of it. You can just wait for it to be over. The only way of ending it sooner is...well, ending it.


People may wonder how you cure depression. The simple answer is that you can't. You can't cure depression; you can simply live alongside it until you are ready to part ways with it. What you, and I to be honest, need to remember, is that it is an illness, not something that is yours or anyone elses fault. And we also need to remember that we are needed in this world, not for something big like ending poverty or curing the common cold, but to prove that depression can't rule us.
For me, beating depression is accepting it for what it is and finding a way for me to lead a happy life with it. I believe that my depression will not go away, but I am ready to accept this and move on with my life. I can live with this, and for anyone reading this, so can you. Fight it, get rid of it, live with it, whatever. Just don't let it beat you.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Rough day? Try being a tree.

Trees have it bad. Really bad. The poor things stand there day after day watching the world go by without being able to do a single thing.  Except ocassionally shed a leaf. Nobody really cares about trees either, not until they're gone.
There are many different kinds of trees and every single one is unique. Most of us don't realise this; we just walk under one thinking 'hm, a tree', but they really are. Every twist of each brach and vein in each leaf is particular to that tree at that time depending on it's type, genes and environment. I was thinking about this the other day while walking home in the dark. I was looking up to feel the rain on my face (which I would highly recommend by the way as it's very refreshing) and I noticed the light of a streetlamp shining through the leaves growing around it to create a green leaf-textured sky effect. It was pretty cool, and when little droplets of water fell, in the light they looked like drops of gold - until they hit my face and just felt cold and wet, bringing me back into reality. 
The canopy of leaves above was preventing the full amount of rainfall from drenching me, but equally, it was not keeping me dry and the previously friendly canopy loomed over with an unnatural electric glow, stinging my eyes and blinding me from the once beautiful detail of each leaf. As I looked away I thought about how that even though the horrid streetlamp had ruined my view of it, the tree itself had not changed - it remained green, beautiful and magical. But I had resented it for that moment, simply because it seemed unfriendly due to something else - the streetlamp.
The next day I returned to the same tree but this time viewed it in natural light. It's an ash tree, which is the one with lots of small, pale green leaves gathered around one stem. Overall a very average tree; one which I certainly wouldn't have picked as particularly special compared to the ones around it. But still the night before, this had been the tree that had caught my eye, because of the light shinging through it's branches - the same light that I came to dislike later on. This very plain tree had become special due to something which I disliked: the streetlamp. So, was it the tree or the streetlamp that was special and caught my eye? Or the combination of the two? Would I have even noticed the tree if the streetlamp hadn't been there?
You might be a bit lost at this point. What I'm trying to get at is that the tree was simply trying to get by and grow and all that and I came along and judged it - for something that wasn't its fault. 
Compare this to people: along we go in our lives, minding our own business (most of the time) and someone comes along, takes one look and immediately categorises you. Usually that wouldn't happen unless you did something that made you stand out: having a panic attack, for example. So it comes back round to me, you think. Well of course it does, this blog is sort of about me you know. Anyway, there I am in the middle of a busy street of busy shoppers completely frozen with fear. I most likely looked like I had seen a ghost, obviously distressed and hyperventilating. What happened? Funny looks and I ran home. Overall a horrific experience. What caused the panic attack remains a mystery to me, as it does with every single one I have. If that hadn't happened I probably would have walked home and not a single person would have glanced my way. So I am only noteworthy based on something that reflects me in a negative light. 
I walk by that tree everyday. I never ever notice it - apart from that one time (well two if you count the next day). It obviously holds no special place in my mind or any significance in my life. But say it was chopped down and it was suddenly gone. I would probably feel a bit sad that it had disappeared and remember the encounter we once had. I wouldn't really care about it unless it was no longer there. This is true with people too. Though it may be a sad truth, its one I think is worth saying. If I ended my life now, I would most definitely be noticed for not being there. People would talk about what a sad story I was and what a shame it was. But right now, while I'm still here, I'm 'OK' in other peoples eyes. I'm getting on with stuff and managing. But what do they know? Nobody knows. Nobody notices. Not until a streetlamp is shining through me anyway.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

So you had a bad day.

I woke up this morning feeling utterly shit. Excuse my language. I didn't sleep well at all last night and was tempted to just stay in bed for the full day. Luckily I didn't have any lectures today so I wouldn't miss anything important, but I did have a social event planned.
Planning is always difficult for me because I never know how I'm going to feel. I just have to take it day by day and do what I can. Usually, I would have just given up and stayed in bed, but it was my friends birthday and I didn't want to let them down.
As I lay there thinking about how on earth I would make it through the day, I remembered a piece of advice my mum gave me once: sometimes you have to prioritise yourself. This was definitely one of those days. I decided I would do the things I wanted or needed to and somehow everything would fall into place.
I got up and got dressed and headed out to my counselling appointment. I needed that and I'm so glad I went. I arrived and I waited.
Waiting is another thing I struggle with. It's all I ever seem to do. Waiting for medication to kick in, waiting for uni to start, waiting to see a doctor, waiting to see a psychiatrist - the list could go on. It's so frustrating feeling like you are really trying to get somewhere, but it doesn't seem to be happening, like in the movies where a character is running along a corridor to get to a door but it just keeps getting longer and longer. It just makes you feel so lost and so useless, but at the same time going back would be even worse.
After seeing my counsellor, I didn't feel much better, though I do really find talking very helpful and I really enjoy going.
When I got home, I attempted to put my mask on. I invented the mask as a way of pretending that I'm alright so I can function normally (I will go into further detail in a future post). But, no matter how hard I tried, it would not stay on. I cracked. My friends tried to convince me to take a time out and try to sleep or rest and just relax. I wasn't having any of it. I had decided that I was going to do everything in my power to get through this day as I had planned and guess what? That's exactly what I did.
Mind over matter. Or in this case depression.
I can't believe that I actually did it. I really can't. It was an incredible feeling. I took control of my own mind and lived this day on my terms, and not the terms of my illness. I don't know how, but I'm happy enough knowing that I did it. Me. And nobody else.
Although I crashed by the end of all the socialising and such, I still went out and spent time with my friends and had a laugh and made new friends. To me, that is the best thing I've achieved in a long time.
I have hope that there are more of these days to come and that one day everyday will be like this, but I'm also aware that after a good day I usually crash and become low again. But I can still hold on to the fact that I can be in control, and that is a comforting thought.
Even though I had planned to do this day for other people, I did it for me. It's important to remember that sometimes you can be selfish and you have needs too. This day was bad, but I took it for what it was and enjoyed it. I am taking control of depression. I am my own person and it's going to have to get used to it. It can take the majority of my days but it will not take me. I am mine.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

50 Shades of...Blue.

Feeling blue: that term is tossed around a bit, don't you think? But what does it mean? Even the internet doesn't know. Historically it is related to Greek mythology, because Zues made it rain when he was sad, the slave trade and Blues music and also old Navy traditions, where a blue flag would be flown if the captain or any of the officers were lost at sea. That's what came up when I searched anyway. It basically means feeling sad, depressed and generally down in the dumps. One website actually said it meant you felt physically ill. I suppose in some cases this is right.
So how does one desribe the feeling of 'blue'? I guess it's different for everyone, depending on what shade of blue you go for. Some days I am definitely a light turquoise, a rather bouncy and upbeat colour, whereas other days I might slip into a dangerous navy. All these shades of blue can be very confusing, especially when you don't get gradual shading in between each one - a valuable lesson learned in high school art lessons.
So, here's a grand tour of the 50 Shades of Blue (see what I've done there?!).

Pale Blue

Here we have a very pleasant coloured blue, with many desirable associations such as new born babies, the sky and the chalk we used to draw on pavements with when we were kids. For me, this colour is when I feel most stable. I can only really describe it as 'normal' or 'fine'. It's not perfect, but at least it's not one of the other colours. Sometimes when I'm in this phase I feel like it could last forever, which would be quite good because I'm 'normal'. However, I'm not exactly happy. Other times I know that it won't last, even though I feel OK, which can be offputting, but mostly I just try and get as much done as possible while I'm functioning normally.


Steel Blue

This colour is slightly more grey than the 'normal' pale blue and I would normally be in this stage when I'm on my way to a low period. I'm still able to do things and go out and function but I also have a cloud hanging over me constantly threatening to starting pouring rain. The cloud keeps getting darker and darker and I know the rain is coming and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I will sprial downwards until I reach my lowest point, like tumbling down a hill: you can't get up and climb back up until you stop at the bottom.
 

Royal Blue

In royal blue I find a state of almost bliss. Up in the high end of 'normal', I feel optimistic, energetic and happy. I thoroughly enjoy this colour while it lasts because I'm jolly and upbeat and having fun. But (there's always a but) I know that it's only so long before I climb too high. I can compare the feeling to parachuting off a mountain: you are floating along gently feeling very relaxed and enjoying the view, while still getting that adrenaline rush from the danger, but you are aware that you are drifting towards a cliff face where the wind is deflected upwards and eventually you will be caught in the updraught. So I can feel uneasy at times, but I mostly just try to accept my mood as it is so I can enjoy it, rather than worry about whats to come.

Electric Blue

Electric blue is a fantastically dangerous colour. Think of lightening and e-numbers. Lightening zips across the sky with immense speed and excitement, lighting up anything it passes, but burning whatever it touches. E-numbers give our favourite sweets and drinks an exciting colour and makes snack time way more interesting, before we feel sick from the sugar and chemicals. This pretty much describes a high phase: my mind jumps from one thing to another and there's no thought pattern, I talk uncontrollably and have huge amounts of energy. Decision making is irrational and I don't need any sleep. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Do check the terms and conditions before you try it though, it comes with severe side effects such as confusion, dizziness, headaches, sickness, memory loss, bad decisions and the ever looming burnout.


Dark Blue

What springs to mind for me when I think of dark blue is old, creepy forests and the deep bits in the sea - two things which I personally find a bit scary. When I am this colour, I am most certainly scared and also very sad, although this is definitely the less severe part of my depression. In this phase I feel horrific: sad, lonely, vulnerable and pretty much any other negative emotion you can think of. Except anger: I am too exhausted to be angry. The physical effects are strong too, as I am often mentally drained so nothing seems to work properly. It's also in the low phases where I am most likely to have a panic attack, which brings about anxiety and all of the baggage with it. But I do see a small light in this phase, like a single star in a vast sky, and I know that eventually it will change. I can hold on to that and get through.

Navy

Navy is the darkest colour, so of course it is the darkest time. Down in this murky colour I am trapped in the depths of my depression. There is only one way out. When I am this low I have no hope, no reason for living, no energy, no nothing. I am completely lost in a dark shadow, wondering aimlessly having given up on everything. I cannot do anything: get up, wash or even eat. These times are when I am at my most vulnerable and I cannot be left alone. I hate it. I dread these times more than anything. And it is this colour that I will go into more detail about when I am ready.



Monday, 22 October 2012

Stalkers.

What do you do when you're feeling crap? Read a book? Go for a walk? Have a bath? Whatever it is I can guarantee I've tried it. Right now I'm snuggled in purple blanky (a friend I'm sure you will get to know very well if you keep reading my posts) listening to rubbishy 90's rock music while writing this.
This day has been supremely worse than average. A horrific nights sleep last night probably didn't help. Though I did make it into uni this morning and had a fun three hours composing. However the fact that Jeremiah (the presence I feel, as I mentioned in my first post) was hanging about definitely put me off, lingering threateningly at the back of the room for no reason whatsoever. Its scary. And so vivid. It feels so real to me but it simply is not possible that its real. That would be completely ridiculous.
Its hard to describe what I actually feel when I get this sensation. Its obviously all in my mind but I also get a very physical reaction. I literally freeze up as if all my muscles have contracted and I feel as though I can't move. I get a tightness in my chest as though my heart has stopped and I feel like I can't breathe. I begin to shake and hyperventilate and everything becomes blurry. Sometimes its so bad that I think I'm going to throw up or pass out. And there's the fear. My anxiety levels increase so much that I can only describe it as a feeling of dread and terror.
Usually if I feel low, I can pretty much assume that this will happen at some point so to deal with it I just don't go out. Totally sad I know, I'm practically a hermit, but I just don't know what sets it off so I can't avoid it. The medication I have is not fully effective though I just got a new dosage today and another type as well so it might improve.
Apparently the 'presence' (Jeremiah) is a symptom of anxiety, sort of like a negative outlet. I find this very confusing. Basically that means that my brain is so rubbish, that the way it's dealt with anything that's made me worried is by building those negative feelings into an external being, which then freaks me out. Great logic.
It's really difficult to accept that all of this is caused by a mental illness. It feels so real and so physical to me. Which, of course, makes it all the more debilitating. You really cannot fully understand unless you have experienced it.
I imagine that being physically stalked would be fairly similar. Imagine you know somebody is following you, but when you look they've turned a corner or somehow hid. It would reach a point where you're just waiting for them to appear. You get too scared to check behind you just in case you do see them and then they try to make contact. Eventually you get so used to it that you just expect it. But then it's no fun for them so they try even harder to scare you, breathing right down your neck when you're alone. What makes it worse is that you can't get rid of it, you can't call someone or force them out of the door. They aren't real. Everybody knows that something is wrong and asks 'are you alright' but you just say yes. You can't really say 'no, I'm being stalked'. As for the people who do know about it, they just don't know what to do when he is around.
I always wonder can they sense it too? Obviously you can tell by my reaction that something isn't right, but would they know anyway? A small part of me does think this and does believe that something is there, even though my rational side is telling me that it's not possible.
But what if it is real? What does that mean? I'm being stalked by an invisible being?
It's not exactly impossible, is it?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Let's start at the very beginning.

Scratch that. The beginning is not a good place to start. In fact it is the worst place to start because then I would  be dredging up memories which are long gone and which nobody cares about - including me.
We shall start here. Right here. Exactly where I am now. Which, in case you are wondering, is on the incredibly squidgy sofa in my flat. It is 8.30pm on a windy autumn day and I have decided to start a blog, the reasons for which I hope will become clear.
So you're probably wondering about the box thing right? In case you haven't heard of it Pandora's Box originates from Greek mythology and it was essentially a container for all the evil in the world like disease, malice, hatred, violence and all that. The story goes that Pandora was created to reap revenge upon the mortals, who had tricked Zeus and angered him. The God's sent Pandora to them, and one of the men fell in love with her and married her. Zeus then gave Pandora a box (well actually a greek jar) as a wedding gift but told her to never open it. Curiosity got the better of her and she eventually took a peek and all the evil inside escaped. She slammed it shut too late, leaving only the spirit of hope in the box.
My box wasn't a gift and I certainly do not want to open it. And to be honest I don't really know what's in it.
I created the box as a coping mechanism, sort of like when your room is messy so you shove everything in the wardrobe. And here is why.
In 2010 when I was 17 years old I was diagnosed with depression. At the time, I was aware that there was a problem but didn't tell anyone until it was really bad. My problems manifested themselves into what felt like a physical presence which followed me everywhere I went. It was like being studyed or tested and under constant threat. I could hear clicking in my ears and around the room and could not do day to day things or even leave the house. The anxiety was unbearable. What made it worse was the guilt. I felt like I was bringing everyone down and that I was a burden. When I finally told my sister we had to do the sit-down-and-talk-about-it thing with the full family to decide the best course of action. Of course it was off the doctors: the only solution for anything - apparently. Then I filled out a questionnaire. Rate from 1-5: do you feel sad/lonely? Duh. It all seems very odd to me. Let's find out what's going on in your mind by asking you a few short questions. Then your score comes out high and you have depression. That's it. After that I was referred on for some talking therapy. I liked it. I did find it helpful, but only at the time. I had missed a lot of school and had my AS levels coming up. So I did what any sensible student would do and I created my very own state-of-the-art coping mechanism: Pandora's Box. In go the problems, down goes the lid. Job done and back to school and I don't need my therapist anymore!
Well here I am two years later. And now the box is full. And I can't keep it shut.
To be fair to myself I did manage to get ABB in my A-levels and land a pretty decent university place too, but at the cost of my mental health.
The first year of university was hard. New place, new people and all that. But I made friends and I fitted in and everything was going well. Unfortunately I had a couple of episodes, but I still carried on and made it to the end of the year before everything fell through.
Jeremiah (that's what I named that 'thing' that 'follows' me) made a long awaited return and the box began to slip open, and I began to spiral downwards. After some more family discussions the best decision was made: to the doctor! Another questionnaire. Another high score. Another diagnosis of depression. This time round I got medication which I must admit I was somewhat relieved about because it would kick in before I was due back at university so my studying wouldn't be disrupted.
That didn't exactly work out as six weeks and numerous panic attacks later I felt exactly the same, if not worse. And university had started. So guess what I did? Went to the doctor and did another questionnaire! I bet you weren't expecting that. Yes, it seems you are depressed, I was told. Really? I would never have guessed! Increase in medication pescribed and on we go.
And here I am now. Still not feeling much better. Still being 'followed'. Still having panic attacks. I'm in a bit of a rut.
However, depsite all of my sarky comments and negativity, I am still here. Still living. Isn't that fascinating?
So basically, the box is a problem and it's definitely time to get rid of it. I want to change the way my mind works so I can cope with stuff; I want to deal with the stuff I never dealt with and I want to move on with my life and most importantly enjoy it. And on top of that I'm doing a degree. Is it possible to recover from a mental illness whilst living an everyday life?  Let's find out.