Post-holiday update

I got back from my holiday – which was mostly enjoyable – on Sunday. The food there was fantastic and the people were very friendly. The first week was great, though my mood was worse during the second week, mostly due to loneliness. For me, it was better than the last couple of family holidays that we’ve been on because I involved myself a lot more. In the past, if I felt my mood spiralling downwards, I’d have isolated myself from the rest of the family and would have just generally moped around doing nothing. This time, I made an effort to include myself – even if I wasn’t feeling great – and mostly felt better as a result. I did manage to make some small SA achievements as well. I got better at talking to people in restaurants while we were there and managed to say hello to the shop owners that we got to know while we were there. One day we were on a boat trip and my sister somehow managed to get herself locked in the toilet. I actually managed – with the help of my other sister – to have a conversation with one of the staff members on the boat while we were waiting for someone to help get her out. I don’t think I even appeared particularly anxious. As it was so hot, my scars were on constant display again, but I soon managed not to care about that either. To date, no one has had a negative reaction to them/ been unkind about them, which is great. Despite my paranoia, they probably don’t draw as much attention as I think.

I enjoyed the holiday more than I thought I would and got on with everyone except my sister (I’ll write more about her later). I started to read a book on Mindfulness and practised some meditation exercises a couple of times. I’d promised myself that I’d get into a proper routine with them when I got back but haven’t done anything yet. I hope to do so once my mood improves. Although I wasn’t particularly busy most days, my thought pattern didn’t spiral out of control as much as it has done on past family holidays.

*Trigger warning for the rest of the post: suicide + self-harm*

Since being home, though, my mood has rapidly taken a turn for the worst. Again, this is mostly due to loneliness and hopelessness about my future. I’ve been suicidal again over the last few days and the urges to self harm are becoming more and more intense. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to resist them for. The thing is, though, as soon as I self harm, I will feel like even more of a failure because I’ve gone more than 14 months without doing it, and by starting again, I would be ‘ruining’ this. I feel like a complete wreck right now. I usually don’t cry very often, but lately I’ve been crying multiple times throughout the day. I can barely get out of bed most mornings and see no point in doing so. I’m finding it more and more difficult to get anything productive done. Each day just seems to roll into the next. I really hope that this is not the beginning of another depressive episode because – if it’s anything like the last one – I honestly don’t think I could survive that again. There isn’t really any one particular reason why I’m feeling so down – it’s more due to a number of things. However, like I’ve already mentioned, the main reason is the same as ever – loneliness, having no friends, feeling completely hopeless about the future, etc.

When we were driving home from the airport, as soon as we reached the outskirts of our town, this massive bunch of negative high school memories just suddenly hit me. I’m not really sure why. And there was suddenly this feeling of…It probably sounds crazy but, while I was in Turkey, it was like I was thousands of miles from the things that had happened to me there and the memories of that. I was free from any chance of bumping into the people who made my life a misery for so long. But now that we’re back…it’s like…there’s always the worry of bumping into those people…it’s as if, because I’ve come back to the same place as always, my mind has come back to the same place as always. And there’s just…this feeling that I can’t really describe…a feeling of being trapped, I suppose. Of being in the same situation that I’ve always been. Of being the same person with the same low worth that I’ve always been, and of having the same place and the same people to remind me of this. A feeling of constantly needing to be on my guard. I know that all of that probably sounds mad…I don’t know why I’m so incredibly fixated on things that stopped happening to me over 2 years ago now. It’s never left me.

I’ve also been quite stressed out lately about trying to get everything sorted out – funding, DSA, going part-time, meeting with members of staff, etc – with university, and I’m now even more worried about what third year will bring. I’m also feeling completely hopeless about finding a summer job and completely terrified at the prospect of having to work with others…I don’t know if I could even hold down a job. Again, I’ll write more about this in a later post. I’ve been having driving lessons and need to start studying for my theory test and get that out of the way. I’m convinced that I’m not going to do well in the practical. I get quite anxious when driving and I don’t know if I’d actually be able to pass. I’m feeling hopeless about that as well. I also recently had an appointment with a careers advisor and was told that I won’t be able to become a vet nurse – which is what I think I’d like to do – with my course. So yeah…realising that I’ll have wasted 5 years of my life by the end of this is super, smashing, fantastic. I don’t know how I could have been so stupid. I don’t know why I didn’t ask before. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. Why the hell am I putting myself through 5 years of torture for nothing? But then…even if I had done a vet nursing degree…I’m still very, very unsure. I’ve never been sure of what I want to do with my life and have never really had a career plan. I just feel…what’s the point? I’m pretty sure that I’m going to end up hating whatever job I end up with – if I even manage that – anyway. I have no idea what to do. The careers advisor said that either way, if I do want to become a vet nurse, I will need to have a lot of work experience in a vet practice. She’s given me 2 weeks to phone around the local vets and get a placement for work experience or work shadowing. This is causing me intense anxiety – I’m extremely anxious about having to phone people, I still don’t have any referees for my CV, and – even if I manage to get work experience somewhere – I don’t know how I’m going to deal with having to talk to people at the vet practice. I’m feeling so stressed and worried about all of these things right now – I’m very poor at dealing with stress. I feel like I just want to crawl under the covers and never come out again – hopefully never wake up again. I’m pathetic. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the real world.

When I was on holiday, everywhere I looked, all I could see were people my own age in happy relationships. There were happy couples all over the place – kissing at the pool, laughing together on the day trips, cuddling at the airport, walking down the street and along the beach hand-in-hand. I tried not to let it get to me but it did. I feel that I will never have the chance to experience love. And ever since we got home, all I’ve seen are groups of young people enjoying the unusually hot weather together, laughing together, drinking together, talking about how great ‘T in the Park’ was, and probably having the best days of their lives. I’m jealous, I suppose…very jealous. And also quite bitter. I must be a very horrible and disgusting person to not have a friend in the world. Even my online friends have been ignoring me lately. One hardly talks to me anyway and the other ignores me as soon as I mention that I’m suicidal and don’t know how I’m going to get through. I can understand that my being so negative and whinging about my life must certainly put people off and make them want to stay clear of me. The thing is though, that whenever my online friends are having a rough time, I try to be there for them 100%. I know that there is really not much that I can do but I listen to everything they say – well, type – and try to be as supportive as possible. But whenever I’m having the worst time, they just completely blank me and stop replying to my messages. It hurts. A lot. They abandon me at the times when I most need support and understanding. It tells me that they don’t care about me or how much I’m hurting. I know that this is probably not true but…it’s as if they wouldn’t care if I did take a blade to my own skin again or if I did kill myself. It makes me feel like there is no one who cares enough to support me and to be a shoulder to lean on in this world. I do my best to support them but when I most need them, I’m left completely on my own. It makes me feel even more like I can’t rely on anyone. I feel like I have nowhere to turn. I could talk to my mum but – as always – she has enough on her plate right now and I don’t want to upset her with explicit mentions of self harm and suicide. The helplines that I’ve tried in the past haven’t really helped at all, so those are out. I don’t have any friends to turn to right now. No one of the forums/ chat rooms that I go on wants to help/ has actually been helpful/ actually understands. I might try the suicide support forum but there is still not much they can do other than tell me to “Hang in there”, or the very irksome and cliché: “It will get better”. I HATE when people say that. If you have severe social anxiety and severe depression, have had them for most of your life/ many years, and are older than me, fair enough – if you’ve found some things that have helped with those conditions and have actually improved yourself. Or if you’ve gone through some very difficult things/ challenges in life and come out stronger on the other side, fair enough. But even then, who’s to say that things will get better for me? The annoying thing, though, is when people who have never experienced depression or social anxiety have the nerve to tell me that it will get better. How the FUCK do you know? Have you somehow travelled into the future, where everything is apparently SO much better? To simply tell someone with those problems – or any others – who is very much in need of help that things “Will get better” strikes me as very dismissive and lazy. If they could provide genuine REASONS as to why things will get better or ways in which I could help myself improve, that would be very helpful. But as for the people who simply tell me that things will get better and say nothing else…they might as well say nothing. Anyway…sorry for my rant…it’s just something that’s angered me a lot over the last few days. That was probably slightly harsh…I know that these people probably want to help and just aren’t sure how…but it annoys me nonetheless.

So yeah – I can’t really rely on support forums either. My psychologist has stopped seeing me now as well. He was supposed to be finding out about a social skills training thing that I could go to but he still hasn’t got back to me (it’s been 6+ weeks since I last saw him). I don’t see the psychiatrist until September and he’s completely useless anyway (for reasons that I won’t go into right now). I have an appointment with the counsellor on Tuesday, though I don’t know if there is much he can do. I do usually feel better after our sessions though. So other than my mum and possibly the counsellor, I don’t really have anyone who could support me right now. And I don’t want to upset my mum so I’m reluctant to talk to her about how I feel. I feel so incredibly alone right now. It just hurts seeing almost everyone else my age getting on with life and being happy. For various reasons, I seriously doubt that I will ever manage to make friends in a face-to-face setting. I almost completely doubt that I will ever have a relationship. I don’t know how I’m going to hold down a job. I don’t know if I could ever fully explain the reasons why I’m suicidal and why I want to kill myself…it’s one big accumulation of everything over the years, really. I’m not thinking of doing it any time soon and I don’t want to bring such pain and suffering to my family, but I can’t see any other way that I will ever be free from this pain and misery. I just want to get help and to get better but it seems like no one really cares. I don’t want to keep on living if this is what the remainder of my life will be like.

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6 Responses to Post-holiday update

  1. You know what, kid? You are severely depressed. It’s a disease, not a personal failing. Nor is it fate. It’s the thing that’s lying to you right now. It’s the thing that makes you get overwhelmed and then shut down completely. You will get two reactions when you bring it up with people: the ones who’ve never had it will tell you, infuriatingly, that it will somehow get better on its own (as you know); the ones who’ve had it will be scared shitless by talk of suicide and will go away because they don’t want to be responsible for not handling it correctly. You’re talking to the wrong people, and making yourself feel worse by comparing yourself to people who do not have this disease. My advice to you is to look around for another psych and get on some drugs. Ask your mum for help. She’s not too busy to keep her daughter from self-harming (or worse). Your depression is such that you have forgotten all about the progress you were making earlier this year. That’s not good. It can get better, but not on its own, and not without help. GO ASK FOR IT.

  2. Blue says:

    I get into these moods a lot, too. I start thinking about how much time I’ve wasted and how people have had a lot more experiences than I have (e.g. having a job). But those people aren’t dealing with crippling depression and social anxiety. The accomplishments that we have had are considerable for the circumstances we are in.

    One more thing: when I get into these moods, it helps me to remind myself that I WILL get to do these things one day, but right now I have to take small steps. Every time I start thinking about the bigger picture, I get paralyzed by my fears. Tackling small obstacles helps me to feel more accomplished, and it does more in the long run. Also, forcing myself to do things I enjoy helps me to feel better about myself and lifts me out of the depression.

    Anyway, I’m extremely impressed with the progress you have made. It’s HUGE considering the way you felt not too long ago. I’m sorry you don’t feel supported by your psychologist. I wish you could visit mine … I feel like she would help you a lot more. 😦

  3. Gemma says:

    Thank you, J and Blue. Seriously, thanks for being there and giving me advice and pointing out the steps that I’ve made towards progress.

    I’ve felt a bit better over the last day and a half. Seeing the counsellor this afternoon helped quite a bit. I like that when I’m criticising myself, he often points out the positive qualities that I have, as well as pointing out progress that I’ve made. As our session was coming to and end today, I actually managed to have an informal conversation with him about my holiday and he told me that once I’m a bit more relaxed around a person, I’m better a having a conversation – and coming up with things to say – than I think. I can’t fully believe any of these things but it’s nice to have someone point out the positives, I suppose.

    J – I think that’s the reason that my online friend runs a mile any time that I mention I’m suicidal. I think I’ve inadvertently upset him so many times when I’ve felt that way that he doesn’t want or know how to deal with it any more. Which I can understand and empathise with because all the times when the tables were turned and he was the one who was seriously suicidal. It is EXTREMELY distressing when the only real friend you have is giving you the most morbid and gruesome details of the different suicide methods that he’s considering and of the state that he’d like to leave his body in. And you also end up worried sick, constantly worrying that they’ve acted on their suicidal wishes, as well as feeling powerless and like a failure as a friend because – especially because it’s an online friendship – there is virtually nothing you can do to stop them. So yeah…I can certainly empathise with him.

    I can’t really remember how I left things with my current psychiatrist but I told him in no uncertain terms that I don’t get anything out of our sessions and often end up feeling even more hopeless and angry afterwards. I’m not sure whether or not he’ll sign me over to my GP after the next appointment in September. With a bit of luck, I could get referred to someone else through my GP but I can’t say that I’ve ever been particularly impressed by NHS psychiatrists. Many of them don’t fully understand social anxiety disorder and I’ve seen a few professionals who don’t even acknowledge its existence. With some – like my current psychiatrist – I actually appear to know considerably more than they do about the condition, which is worrying, to say the least. I suppose it’s luck of the draw, really. I hope that I eventually find someone more helpful. I could always try going private but I/we don’t really have the money. I’ve been considering going on beta-blockers in a couple of months’ time to help with the presentations that I’ll have to do at uni this year. I’m not particularly keen to go back on antidepressants and I’m not sure what I’d try if I did. SSRIs don’t seem to have any positive effect on me though.

    I haven’t asked my mum for help yet but I’ll try to do so if my mood worsens again. I have thankfully been okay over the last day and a half though.

    Blue – That is very true. But sometimes, even though I’ve made small steps in reducing my social anxiety, I don’t feel that I’ve made much headway. Sometimes I doubt the progress that I’ve made. I can see that I’ve made some progress with phoning people and going to the supermarket, though.

    One problem that I have is the inability to believe that things will ever get better or that I’ll ever get to do any of the things that I’m missing out on right now. I often try to use those things as motivation to get better and try as hard as I can but sometimes the thought of those things just makes me even more upset (because of how unattainable they seem).

    Exercise is the one thing I’ve found that really helps my depression. I felt miserable and completely drained yesterday morning but forced myself to go cycling in the afternoon anyway. I felt terrible at first, but after about 30 or 40 minutes, my mood had improved a lot, and I’ve felt mostly okay since then. I plan to get back into a proper exercise routine again, after not having one for 3 weeks now. Exercise is my drug. Forcing yourself to do things that you enjoy does help a lot too. Just getting out and doing something – instead of moping around the house all day – improves my mood quite a lot.

    Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 Is your psychologist helping you?

    Anyway…sorry that I’ve blabbed on quite a lot here. Thanks again to both of you.

    • Blue says:

      I get that way too … When I start ruminating, everything begins to snowball, and I feel hopeless and discouraged. I’ve been trying to catch myself but sometimes my mind gets away from me.

      I’m glad exercise is helping you! One of my professors said it was one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and depression. It doesn’t seem to do much for me, unfortunately, but maybe I’m not pushing myself hard enough.

      My therapist is helping! Well, she went on holiday this month and I stopped doing my exposures (and regressed accordingly, blah), but she was helping me a lot before that. I was seeing her every week or two and she was keeping me motivated, but when she went on holiday I guess I decided to take a vacation too. Oops!!

      I read some of your older posts and you really seem to have the worst luck with mental health professionals. That post about being diagnosed with Autism actually made my jaw drop. It sounded like the people you’ve had the misfortune of dealing with have some issues of their own. :/

      Were those people government-funded? I hate to say it, but maybe they weren’t doing their jobs as well as they could have because they have so many clients. Maybe someone with a private practice might be more proficient (since they have to get good recommendations and keep their clientele). The good thing about that is you can look up reviews, as well as shop around to find someone you connect with.

      It’s super expensive for sure. I wish good-quality mental health care was more affordable. I had to convince myself that I’m spending more money in the long-run by being unemployed.

      I really hope that, one day, you’re able to find a psychologist or psychiatrist that you click with. Based on what I’ve read, it sounds like most of them haven’t done the greatest job of making you feel supported and accepted.

  4. I suggested drugs only because you seem to be a in a period of crisis in terms of very low mood. Sometimes just getting stable moods, and mood that’s up to a functional baseline, is what’s best, so you can work on other things off of that foundation. But I get not wanting to be on them if you can avoid it and if you don’t feel your issue is chemical.

    I second the opinion that looking around for a non-NHS practitioner can be worth it in the long run. Some people will work on sliding scale (my private practitioner does). A psychologist who has a method and a personality that both click with you can help you make real progress in weeks or months. That’s what has happened to me. I was ready to end my life just six months ago. Things have turned around completely between then and now. No drugs. Just talking. The progress I make in her office helps me make progress out in the world. That is where most of the work is done. I have trouble seeing myself going to see her a year from now. Getting a sense of mental peace plus the ability to connect with other people (and choose the right ones to trust and invest in, which I often haven’t been able to) and feel confidence about being out in the world is worth the thousands of dollars I will have spent out of pocket.

    Agreed on the need to think of your development in terms of approachable, incremental steps. Relationships start with you and your ability to feel comfortable in your own skin. That comes first and in my opinion it’s where most of the work lies. Once that’s happening, engaging in relationships with other people comes a lot easier.

    I’d urge you to dig a little for other options.

  5. Gemma says:

    Blue – I find that I need to do at least 30-40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise before I start feeling the effects. The endorphins kick in quicker when I run, though I don’t particularly like running. I’m glad that your therapist is helping you. Hopefully you’ll make even more progress when she gets back.

    All of the professionals I’ve seen so far were government funded. I’m kind of left wondering what it is that these people are actually supposed to do – psychiatrists in particular have never really done anything to help me. From what I can tell, good therapy is virtually impossible to come by on the NHS. Again, I don’t know if I could afford to go private but I suppose it is worth a try. I’ll probably ask my GP for a referral to another NHS psychiatrist, and if they don’t help, I’ll see about going private. I suppose I would ultimately be saving money in the long run if I was seen by a good private psychiatrist, given that I don’t feel that I could manage job interviews.

    J – I’m sorry that you felt ready to end your life no so long ago, but I’m glad that you’ve made so much progress since then. What sort of things do you talk about (if you don’t mind saying)? It has been mostly talking with the psychiatrists that I’ve seen but it’s never really helped. There have been a lot of times when talking to them has actually made me feel a lot worse because they never really seem to understand. It’s quite sad that self-help books have helped me more than almost all of the professionals I’ve ever seen.

    I might see if the counsellor at uni can recommend anything/ anyone to me. My psychologist finally got back to me yesterday, with news that the organisation for people with high-functioning autism – who he contacted on my behalf – should contact me soon to talk about options for building my social skills. I don’t feel particularly hopeful about them helping me but it’s worth a try, I suppose. I think I just need a lot of practice in socialising with people and knowing what to do/ say in most situations. I think that a ;large part of my social awkwardness/ cluelessness is simply due to a lack of opportunities – throughout my life – to practice my social skills. I haven’t done much in the way of exposure exercises in the last few days, so I’ll try to step that up again.

    Thanks again to both of you.

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