Descent into the darkness

I’m finally done with coursework for this semester at uni and will now hopefully have more time to update my blog. I’ve got quite a lot of things to write about.

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My mood has taken quite a dramatic nose dive recently and I can only assume it’s because the days are getting shorter and shorter. I find the American/Canadian term “Fall” to be very apt in describing what my mood, motivation, and mental health in general begin to do at that time of year. The recurring pattern is that I start to feel worse usually in early-mid October and continue to feel that way until March or even April. I still get depressed in summer sometimes, but usually not as bad as in the darker months. The autumn/winter depression feels…deeper somehow. My lamp is definitely helping to take the edge off the depression but it still affects me deeply. Without the lamp, I might be suicidal constantly for months but for the last 2 years, the most intense suicidal feelings usually haven’t lasted for more than a few days. I don’t know if it’s due to putting in place the few coping methods that I have picked up over the years, but – while the pain isn’t any less – I think I’ve gotten better at fighting the suicidal urges and the urges to self harm. I’m just hoping that I’ll continue to get better at coping as the years go on.

I still wonder though…will it ever lessen? It seems that this is probably something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. I overeat because I feel hungrier and crave chocolate and carbohydrates. My mind becomes foggy. I feel spaced out a lot of the time. My concentration is bad enough when I’m not depressed – due to anxiety – but when I am, my concentration is often non-existent. I can’t focus at all. I feel less connected to the world and other people somehow. I feel more tired and spend a lot of my time doing nothing – just lying on my bed or on the sofa because I feel too tired to move or do anything more productive. I feel awful about myself. My social anxiety gets worse in the autumn/winter months as well. I don’t even want people to see me. I don’t want to offend them with my ugliness or awkwardness. I feel like wherever I go, people hate me. I feel like the most disgusting, worthless, despicable, disturbed human being on the face of the earth. When I’m at my worst, I don’t want to go out in public at all. Christmas shopping is usually a nightmare for me because I feel so awful at this time of year and I’m completely paranoid about other people judging me. I find it more and more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings, particularly from November-January. If I could just go to bed now, wrap myself up in a nice, warm duvet and hibernate for at least the next couple of months, that would be great. My ability to manage stress seems to be greatly reduced in the darker months as well. I suppose it doesn’t really help that I have the emotional intelligence and regulating capabilities of a teapot at the best of times, but at this time of year, it’s even worse. Even the minor things can feel like major sources of stress to me.

I always used to think that I was depressed because of the loneliness brought about by my social anxiety, and due to dwelling on those feelings. I still believe this to be true to a large extent but a lot of the time, I will feel awful for no apparent reason. Now it seems that the depressive feelings lead to thinking about how lonely and isolated am I and how hopeless everything seems (rather than the other way around), which then leads to even more depressive feelings.

I have felt very suicidal over the past few days. Killing myself would be all too easy at the moment, especially given how sensitive I am to the effects of propranolol. I can’t see a positive future for myself. Even though things have been getting better for me, in terms of anxiety, there are still so many things that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to overcome. What I’m referring to here is mostly the apparently sisyphean task of trying to connect to other people. Sometimes I think I’d rather just be completely done with trying to form friendships and just enjoy the company of animals instead. Animals can’t reject you or mock you or stab you in the back like humans can. And yet, of course I long for friendship and a relationship and feeling connected to people. I just fear those things so much. And a lot of the time, they seem to bring more pain than anything else (post about this and avoidance issues coming later). I’d like to make it clear that I’m not planning on doing anything soon, but I really can’t see myself being alive for many more years if things don’t improve. Last night, the urges to self harm were more intense than they have been in a long time. I dealt with them mostly by distracting myself with comedy videos on youtube and cute videos of puppies and babies. I also drew on my arm with red pen, before washing it all off, which was quite therapeutic. When I feel that bad, sleeping helps as well.

The weird thing is that there is nothing really wrong at the moment. There is nothing stressful that I have to worry about in the near future. So why do I feel like I’m falling apart again? I’ve been crying a lot lately – often uncontrollably, at random moments throughout the day. I am being very self-critical and self-loathing. I promised myself that I’d get back into CBT when my coursework was over with, but I’m reluctant to do it because of the fact that it often makes me feel worse instead of better. This is mainly because it triggers so many negative memories. These memories have been bothering me once again lately. I don’t know why they cause so much pain. I don’t know why I can’t just let everything go and move on. Sometimes it seems like hardly anything triggers them, and the emotional distress that goes with them.

I should probably also mention that my psychologist had one final appointment with me a few weeks ago, and the psychiatrist has now completely stopped seeing me as well. So after 4 and a half (mostly useless) years, I won’t be seeing anyone else from CMHT/CAMHS. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it’s not like seeing those people was really helping me anyway. This was especially true for the psychiatrist, who usually made me feel worse. I’m glad to see the back of him. He actually asked if I wanted to have a check-up appointment every 6 months or so, but I said no because he is useless at actually helping me. Not that I’m not already completely disillusioned by the state of mental health services on the NHS, but one has to wonder slightly why they’ve decided to stop seeing me if I still need help. With CBT – which is apparently the only type of therapy offered on the NHS – it’s a case of 8-12 hour sessions and then they stop seeing you after that, regardless of whether it’s actually helped or not. It would also help if the majority of the people I’ve seen throughout the years actually had an idea of what social anxiety disorder IS, let alone how to treat it. I’m still not even sure about what it is I’m actually suffering from. I assume that I have seasonal affective disorder because of how well the symptoms fit with what I experience, but I don’t know for sure because – despite the fact that I filled in a screener for SAD – the psychiatrist didn’t actually tell me anything. I could try getting referred to someone else on the NHS but as almost everyone hasn’t really had a clue and hasn’t helped me much, I’m extremely reluctant. I don’t want to see GPs either – unless I’m asking for medications – because of my previous experiences with them. All I have left is my counsellor. I see him tomorrow. I don’t know if he can refer me to anyone. Probably not. I’ve been wondering about seeing a private psychologist for a while now but I don’t know how to find someone good. And I certainly don’t want to waste time and money on someone who won’t help me. I’m beginning to wonder what exactly it is these people are supposed to do. I know that it’s me who has to do all the work but I mean…are these people actually supposed to make you feel better in some way? That has not been the case so far. I feel that nothing short of a miracle is going to help me. I’m too messed up.

I woke up this morning feeling terrible. It took hours before I finally managed to drag myself out of bed. It was a beautiful day outside – hardly a cloud in the sky. I was free to spend the day doing whatever I wanted because I don’t have any classes on Mondays this semester, and there is no more coursework for me to do. I was free to relax and put my feet up. No stress. And yet I still felt miserable and like everything was falling apart. I still felt like life was not worth living. I still felt very emotionally distressed. I took my dog out and listened to happy music to try and make myself feel better. I did feel a bit better afterwards, I suppose. But miserable while I was actually doing them. I had to try my best to keep myself from crying while out with my dog, for fear that other people would see me. I also had driving lesson today, which really didn’t help with my mood. (More on this later as well). I’m beginning to seriously doubt that I will ever be able to drive, given my social and performance anxiety. It makes me feel awful when I can’t do the things that I should be able to do by now, because of the lack of focus, and panic that my anxiety causes. And then I had another cry when I got back from the lesson.

Part of me just wants to give up on life completely because it seems that things are never going to change. The majority of me (for now) wants to continue to fight through it, as hopeless as that often seems. The thing is…I know that life can be beautiful and enjoyable. But I fear that because of my anxiety and issues with connecting to/ trusting other people, I will never experience most of the beautiful and happier things in life. I really wish I could experience those things like other people do.

Anyway…I must apologise for the above jumbled mess that was this post. I’m going to go to bed now. I’m still feeling a bit suicidal but not anywhere near as bad as last night, or even earlier today. Hopefully life will seem more bearable in the morning. More updates coming soon, if I can somehow unjumble my thoughts into coherent posts.

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