An open letter to my depression

// TRIGGER WARNING: SH/SUICIDAL THOUGHTS//

You are honestly, the worst thing ever. You and anxiety, make my life so hard, every day is a battle because of you. I can not get away from you, you make me harm myself and make me feel like I would be better of dead, you make these thoughts pop up into my head on a daily basis, why? You make me isolated in thoughts that are not very nice, and make my day suck, even if I do something I love, somehow you find a way to make it suck.

You make me isolated in thoughts that are not very nice, and make my day suck, even if I do something I love, somehow you find a way to make it suck. You make me hate going to therapy, and don’t even make me start about you teaming up with anxiety to stop me from going out and hanging with people, which I’d love to, but you and anxiety stop me.

Some days, I wake up actually happy, very happy sometimes, but for some reason, you mess it all up and make me feel so down it’s unreal, this happens every time. I’ve not had a day where I’ve felt 100% happy in months because of you. Having you in my head is not something I want, so why are you in my head? You suck.

However, because of you, I feel like I’ve become a stronger person, mentally. I know it’s a battle but battling every day makes me a strong person. You made me want to find a hobby to distract me, which is actually blogging, which is something I’ve actually loved doing since I started, so thanks for that.

You won’t defeat me, this week is the week where I will start defeating you. You will never beat me, I will beat you.

Liam

CBT: Fifth Session

// TRIGGER WARNING: SH //

As you may have seen on my twitter, I’ve had a bad few days, the worst I’ve ever been. I decided, yesterday to text my therapist just so she asks me and then I can’t avoid telling her what I’ve done. So the past few days, I’ve started self-harming again, it sucks and I’m so happy I actually told my therapist today.

This wasn’t a usual CBT session, solely down to what I have done, this was literally just a conversation about what I’ve done, and what needs to be done. She decided that I should be on medication, or at least try it. She immediately told me she will phone my doctor as soon as my appointment finishes, and get me an appointment, she was brilliant. As I was on the bus, I got a confirmation text for the appointment, how fast!

She was so understanding, I found it awfully hard to tell her what I did, and why I did it. But she just let me talk, she knew I had more to say, but I said as much as I could in this session, and she totally understood. I am feeling a bit better after actually telling her, it sucks that I have to go through this but I will get through this, it’s just a mere blip and it’ll get better. She gave me booklets on SH and distractions to stop SH and a booklet all about anti-depressants. She also mentioned an SH group talking thing which is every Friday, I’m still a bit unsure about that, but she gave me the contact details just in case.

So, hopefully, next week will be a better week, GP appointment and CBT next week on the same day! Hoping that will be a good day, and I hope I get something out of it, to help this annoying thing.

Sorry for such a short post, but we didn’t go over anything to do with CBT, no exposure, no panic, it was merely just me talking about the last few days, which honestly, I needed to do.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Fourth session

This post should have been posted this Wednesday, but I’m a bit behind… but I have no CBT next week so it should all even itself out!

This session was my first session after attempting to do exposure therapy, I didn’t do it very well, I was told to do 4 days of it, I only managed to do one. It was such a hard, big jump.I didn’t learn anything new this session, which felt weird, but it was good not to. We just went over how exposure therapy went, and what we could do to change that, and went over why it didn’t go to plan. As usual, I did fill out a PHQ-9 and GAD-7 form, like every single session. Depression went up, Anxiety went up. Not good.

Exposure therapy, and how the first week went.

This was the main topic of the session today. I was open about what I did, and I wasn’t going to hide from it. I didn’t do well in terms of what I should have done, but my therapist was still happy that I even did one day, to be honest, it is a step in the right direction, even though it’s a tiny step. As I explained in my blog post I did about my third session, which you can find here. I was planning on going the shops as a start of my exposure therapy. I told my therapist about how little exposure I did, and we discussed and came to a conclusion, that it was too big of a step, and it gave me more anxiety than I thought it would.

So, this week I am going to not go the shop, but walk to the shop, every other day for two weeks. Since my therapist is in training next week, I will not see her until the 15th, so this gives me time to get up the courage to do it. I’ll try my best.

We also talked about what happens after my 6th session, which has made me worry a lot, you’d probably know how much I’ve been worrying if you see my tweets from the past few days. I don’t think they will let me leave if I’m still struggling with my mental health, so I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

 

CBT: Third session.

This was a big, deep session, I was very anxious over it. We went through mainly exposure therapy, and how I am going to do it when I’m at home, planning what days to do it on, and what time.

I learned a lot this session, mostly about how exposure therapy works ( I thought I got thrown in the deep end) but it’s actually worked as doing something that gives you 40% or such anxiety and doing that multiple times a week, for example, going the shop. We went over a lot this session, the avoidance hierarchy was the thing we went into a lot of detail, as you plan the exposure therapy around that.

Avoidance hierarchy:

This was something very new to me, even with my research of CBT, I didn’t know what this was at all. Avoidance hierarchy is a ladder, where you put on each step a situation and then a percentage of anxiety, on mine, the first step is to go to my local shop at midday when it’s not as busy. The highest is talking to a total stranger at any time, which is 100% This links into exposure therapy because this is virtually the backbone of it, you plan from the ladder of avoidance.

My first week of exposure therapy will consist of me going to the shop, four times. This will help as I am putting myself in a situation which makes me panic, but doing it multiple times in one week, my anxiety should go lower in that situation at the end of the week, well I hope so.

Conditions:

I also had to go over these, it’s important to follow conditions as exposure therapy might not be as effective. The first condition is for it to be Graded, basically doing it from the avoidance hierarchy ladder, starting at the bottom working your way up at a steady pace. The second condition is prolonged, you’re meant to stay in the situation that causes anxiety until it drops by 50%. The third condition is that it has to be repeated, me and my therapist has said minimum 3 times a week, ideally every other day. The repeated part is very important as your anxiety in that situation goes down after each day of doing it. The last condition is doing it without distraction. Naturally, you can do things to distract you from your anxiety, for example, I use my phone when I’m anxious and I don’t give eye contact.

 

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been recovering from eye surgery, slowly but surely getting better!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Second session.

I had my second session of CBT therapy today, it went better than last session. We didn’t really cover much more other than going into more detail about panic attacks and then going on about exposure therapy (which scares the heck out of me!)

Vicious cycle of panic:

This was the first thing we went through today, it’s basically a cycle of what happens when you panic, it goes trigger – thoughts/images – feelings – thoughts/images – behavior then repeats as the panic attack goes on. I related to this a lot as this is basically what happens to me. She also spoke about like me worrying about being in a panic attack, like I always think I’m going to throw up and I hate throwing up, but she went over how I’ve had a lot of panic attacks but only threw up once.

Positive self-statements

My therapist noticed my struggle with filling out some parts of my panic diary, especially the “answer to negative thought” column, but she said that was totally normal as I never really know what to say about my anxiety and panic attacks, so she gave me a list of stuff to say to myself, there’s preparation statements like “I might enjoy it if I go” “It’s not going to be as bad as I think”

Exposure therapy

We didn’t go through this in much detail, just because my therapist didn’t want me to worry about it. (too late!) She basically only said that it was happening next week, so stupid me researched it and made myself worry even more

 

Only a short blog post this one, sorry! I think the next session will make a long blog post… hopefully!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: First session.

So it finally arrived, the day of my first CBT session, I was very excited, even though I slept in almost two hours later than what I did, luckily I planned to wake up too early. So then there I was, feeling anxious, waiting for the bus. I was in the town centre, a good 2 hours early, luckily there’s a town centre near my mental health clinic. I had a panic attack on the bus, a mild one compared to others, but luckily I texted my friend, who helped me take my mind off things.

Then it was 1pm. I was in the waiting room a massive 1 hour early, silly me. It didn’t take long for the hour to past, and then my name was called, I thought to my self “first part of my recovery now, you can do it”

I opened up about how much of a bad week I’ve had, in terms of feelings, anxiety and depression. It felt good to let it all out, I then filled out the usual PHQ-9 and GAD 7 forms.  sheet where you circle if you’ve felt what it says in the last two weeks, several days, every day etc. Anxiety stayed the same, I expected that. Depression was a lot higher, I expected that also, I’ve had one of the worst weeks in years.

Then we got right into the session, it was mainly another intro one she said, we talked about a lot of things, mainly my panic attacks, which I was very confused on as I thought we’d talk about anxiety first which causes them.

Fight or flight

We first talked about the fight or flight, it’s your body’s natural response to situations that you perceive to be a threat, basically when you have a panic attack, this is what happens. Social situations are my threat. There’s so many physical affects with the fight or flight mode your body automatically switches to in situations, which causes a panic attack. My therapist explained it, like my body getting ready to fight a tiger, but there’s no tiger, it’s just situations that cause the panic attacks, i.e social situations. All the symptoms I get in a panic attack (dry mouth, choking feeling at times, palpitations, breathing very heavily.

Cycle of Panic

She filled out this cycle for me, before I was in the session, I think she called it the 5 box cycle or something like that, its basically just a visualised cycle of panic with boxes saying “thoughts and images” “body/physical sensations” “moods/emotions” and then “behaviours” She filled the boxes in with the information I gave her last week, i.e in the thoughts and images, there’s information like, overthinking situations, catashropising events. She left the “situation” box blank, simply because all these sensations, emotions are caused by many situations.

Panic diary

My therapist then gave me a sheet to take home, with loads more information on anxiety and depression, the panic diary is just a table to fill in columns “situation” “Main body sensations” “negative thought” “answer to that thought” “behaviour & consequence” and “how long panic lasted” to give her more understanding on when I get panic attacks, but sometimes I just get them randomly, but she knows that, I think?

That’s all we went through this session, my sessions are only 30 mins, and I only have one a week, which I might talk to her about it next week if I feel up to it, we did go through some breathing exercises but she said we’d go into more detail next week.

I felt awful going out of it, I expected much more, but now I feel pretty confident it’s going to work.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

An open letter to my anxiety.

I’ve struggled with you for years, since 2012. Nobody knows how you make me feel. It took me ages to figure out what I was feeling, and took me years to finally open up about it, you’ve made my life a living hell. Thanks.

Every time I feel like going out, you pop into my head and stop me from going out, making me overthink every situation, and making me think the bad of every situation. You stop me from going out, you stop me from making friends, you stopped me from working at a job I did once enjoy, but you stopped me enjoying it, and made me quit.

Anxiety, you’re in my head, every minute of my life. Even at this moment of writing this, you’ve made me cry so much whilst writing this. I didn’t ask to have all this anxiety going on inside of me, so why has it happened, why me? I never chose you, so why do you think you should of chose to ruin my life?

I’ve had awful experiences trying to socialise because of you, you’ve made me cry so much in public, you’ve made me have panic attacks in public, and you’ve made me avoid every social situation possible this last month. I’ve even stopped eating completely for a few days at a time just because you make me lose my appetite completely. You even tried your best to ruin the best day of 2016, when I went to my first concert ever, you made me have three panic attacks on the train. But I stopped you.

You’ve made me the person I am now. I have finally asked for help and i’m going to stop you ruling my life forever. It was a battle to even get to the point of going to my doctor, but that battle has made me a stronger person, so thanks for that.

I also found a band because of you, a band that makes me chill out whenever I need to, all I do is just listen to my favourite songs by them, I’m really appreciative of that because they are now my favourite band ever, and I have seen them live.

 

I will not let you defeat me. I will always win.

2016: Mental health, gigs and all sorts.

2016 has been a big year for me, I went to my first gig, I got help for my anxiety, after waiting 4 years to do so. Finished college, got a job, quit the job at the end of 2016 because of my mental health, what a roller coaster of a year.

2016 started out stressful, as I trained to be a chef in college the start of the year for every course is so stressful, so many exams, 5 hour cooking exams, paper exams.. a lot to take in! Additionally to all the stress, my anxiety of course wanted to play up and make everything worse. Having panic attacks when it comes to exams, every time an exam was being mentioned it gave me pretty bad anxiety, then it went really bad on the day of the exams, panic attacks, crying, walking out.

In April, I turned 18 on my birthday, wasn’t the best of days, riddled with anxiety all day, the meal was good though, food is always good. Then there was the month May, a bad month. I had the biggest exams of my life. Two 5 hour practical exams, it was extremely a nerve wrecking, anxious experience. I had a panic attack in the middle of my first one, I thought it was all over, I thought, I wasted my time training to be a chef. But no, I managed to complete both exams (what a miracle!). I also got my first job after the exams, the interview went extremely well, and I enjoyed the job for about the first month, then my anxiety just took over. I ended up quitting in December, I just couldn’t handle the amount of stress the job caused, I was having a breakdown every night. It was not good.

Then the best month of the year came, July. The month where I miraculously finished college, and got a ticket to see my favourite band ever, the 1975. I missed so many concerts due to my anxiety and money. But I got tickets for the biggest show they’ve ever played, it felt good. Throughout all this anxiety and college exams, I found out that I needed surgery for my eye, strabismus surgery it’s called. That made me really anxious, I cried when I found out. I was put on a waiting list, and had countless amounts of hospital appointments in 2016.

I finally, after four years, got the courage up to go to my GP and open up about my anxiety, I then got an assessment to get my self on the waiting list for CBT. I was very scared, it was a new experience, never felt it before, panic all over, scared, but happy at the same time?

December then came, a stressful but very good month. It was the month where I found out my surgery date, my date to start CBT, and my first ever concert. Also, Christmas to top it all off! The concert, was a very anxious, stressful experience. It was the first time I’ve ever went to Manchester by my self, I got lost finding my hotel room, luckily I was going to meet with a friend, who knows Manchester very well so she luckily helped. Then it was the time to line up, for four hours.. what a boring, anxious time. Many people were drunk, shouting, playing music. Safe to say, it was a weird experience.

Now here I am, in 2017, writing this covered up in three blankets as it’s so cold. 2016 was a bad year, had it good moments though. Let’s hope 2017 is good.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

Anxiety & Me.

Overthinking, loneliness, panic attacks. Just three of the things in my life all caused by anxiety. Anxiety makes every day for me, a battle. A never ending battle.

Anxiety makes my day, not a simple day. All I do now, is wake up at a stupid time due to my anxiety not making me sleep until like 5am, and then just eat and go on my computer, Sad, I know. Life gets so overwhelming at most times, down to this stupid, annoying anxiety.

As I write this post, about a hour ago I had a bad panic attack, guess what over. My CBT session this coming Wednesday, of all things I could of had a panic attack about, it was the thing that’s trying to help me, how fun. Anxiety also makes my mood swing from good to bad so often throughout the day, in the morning I could be ready to face my fears, maybe go out, go shopping I don’t know. However, I start to overthink every bad situation “What if I fall over in public” “People will hear my pathetic voice and judge me” “I look so stupid worrying about everything, people know I worry” All these thoughts run through my head whilst I try to go out. I just end up not going out, and it upsets me. It makes me cry. I spend all my life (apart from going DRs, therapy etc) indoors from the first day I quit my job due to my anxiety just overpowering everything.

The past 4 almost 5 years have been hell with anxiety, starting from high school, everyone obviously misjudged it as just to be nerves, even my mentor in every one of my class misjudged it. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, anxiety also makes me leave stupidly early just so I’m not late, but then that makes me think like “er, they are going to judge me so much for being early” you just cant win.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

Liam.