Being depressed at Christmas

I came across this article written by Matt Haig earlier today. Matt writes extensively about living with mental illness, and this piece really sums up some of the struggles faced by many of us at Christmas.

https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/14/shopping-hell-kindness-therapeutic-depression-christmas?__twitter_impression=true

Advertisements

Santa Claus is coming to town!

It’s got to be mentioned, hasn’t it?

Christmas is fast approaching (we’ve been seeing festive stuff in the shops near us since before Halloween).

How are you feeling about it?

I’m totally unprepared, although this weekend we had visitors again and they put up our tree!

We all had so much fun, singing Christmas songs and hanging baubles! The kids went to choose the tree yesterday morning. I’d asked them to make sure they got the best, and I reckon they succeeded!!.

In the evening we watched Elf, and were feeling pretty damned festive!

Even the dinosaurs are feeling festive.

This morning we woke up to snow, so obviously the girls couldn’t wait to get outside!

They threw snowballs and made sort of snowmen and generally had a great time (I have a story about playing in the snow when I was round about their age which involved FARRRRRR too much excitement!).

They were so cute when they came in and sat side by side in front of the fire to warm up and drink some hot chocolate!

Me, I hate snow. I mean, I love love LOVE how it looks. From inside my house. I like to watch it fall, and I love the peculiar light of a snowy evening. But going out in it? Nah. Not for me. There’s something super romantic about snuggling the sofa in front of the fire and watching a good film.

I certainly won’t be repeating my 6 year old self’s snowy escapades…

So Christmas.

I love Christmas.

Well, I love the feeling of Christmas. I like the prettiness of Christmas. I love the SMELL of Christmas!

I detest the commercial aspect of Christmas though.

For the past few years, people have received had made gifts – maybe a hamper or a knitted gift, but they’ve definitely had a lot of heart put into them.

These, for me, are the best kinds of gifts.

Thoughtful gifts.

I hate being ‘forced’ to buy gifts. The best kinds of things come from the heart, and don’t necessarily cost a penny.

Everyone seems to want the ‘best’ or the ‘latest’ or just what’s been forced upon them in the latest advert break.

I hate that attitude.

I think we’ve almost finished our shopping (not including Christmas dinner!), and every gift has been carefully chosen as we are on a pretty tight budget, just like many other people.

Christmas is stressful for so many reasons without having the added pressure of having to get the ‘perfect’ gift.

Some people won’t be having any kind of Christmas, for whatever reason, so I think that people need to start being more grateful for what they do have.

My favourite thing about Christmas is spending time with loved ones.

In my 35 years there are very few Christmases that I have spent apart from my mum.

I love cooking Christmas dinner for my family, but this year we’re saving our Christmas for new year as I have a new ‘family’ – my wonderful partner and we have his 2 girls over the Christmas period too!

How exciting!

I hope they get snow again.

Me, I’ll stay in and cook the dinner and sing some Christmas songs.

I hope you are all coping with the festive period.

Please remember there is always someone to talk to if you are struggling, and of course, you are always welcome to contact me if you’d like.

Take care of yourselves xxx

Depression – fair game for bullies?

I admit, I don’t spend my Saturday evenings watching I’m a Celebrity, but the show, and in particular, Iain Lee, has been brought to my attention today via Twitter.

I’m sure you will have heard about him by now.

He was the one that cried during last night’s show.

Yes, HE. A man cried on TV.

He took part in one of the challenges (which sounded pretty horrific), and suffered an anxiety attack, meaning he ultimately failed the challenge.

He returned to camp and broke down.

Everyone seemed to show compassion, reassuring Mr Lee, but later Rebekah Vardy (I’m not sure what one of those is) said she didn’t like to see crying as it shows ‘weakness’ and Amir Khan agreed.

Luckily support and words of wisdom came from Georgia Toffolo (apparently a star of Made in Chelsea) who said during a conversation with other members of the camp

Yes, because the stereotypical man doesn’t cry and that’s wrong, that shouldn’t be the case.’

This is exactly the problem.

Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact, I’d say it shows strength that someone is quite prepared to expose that raw emotional side of themselves.

Anyway, Mr Lee has now become the target of Twitter users calling him ‘pathetic’ and poking fun at him.

Because anxiety is so funny, isn’t it?

Depression is a perfect opportunity to call someone crazy, isn’t it?!

Despite what you may or may not think, mental illness of any sort is no reason to abuse someone.

It’s not an opportunity to attempt to push your own twisted agenda.

I can imagine that if I’d been in the same situation as Mr Lee, I’d probably have had a panic attack.

And in case you didn’t known, here are some of the VERY REAL physical symptoms of anxiety –

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fidgeting
  • Headache
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling in hands
  • Palpitations

Now imagine experiencing just one of these whilst being in a huge tank of water about to attempt a ‘trial’ on a TV show in order to feed your team mates.

Tell me you would be able to do that and not feel emotion.

Mental illness of any sort is no reason to bully and harass someone, whoever they are.

Maybe if people start accepting that it’s ok to show emotion and it’s not any kind of weakness, things will start to change for the better, but as long as names like ‘crazy’ and ‘pathetic’ are being hurled at people struggling daily, morning is going to change at all.

4am…

So, it’s 4am, and I’ve not yet slept.  Hurrah for insomnia!

I’m no stranger to this stupid fucked up sleep cycle, I’ve been living with it for years, but I’ll never get over the fact that 4am is so utterly boring!

I’ve been looking at recipes.  Mainly healthy ones.  It can never hurt to try to eat healthier, can it?

I’ve been browsing the Shitty Watercolour Facebook page.

Listened to another episode of Paul Temple.

My brain isn’t ready to switch off.

A million and one things are racing round my head.  I wonder how they all fit in there.

Just had a mug of hot chocolate, but now I feel sick.

I should probably go back to bed as I have important things to do tomorrow.

It’s too late to take a zopiclone, as I won’t be up before lunchtime if I do that now, and if I was to be, I’d have the mother of all hangovers from it.

I kind of hope that spilling here will allow me to get at least a couple of hours sleep.

I wish I could put my finger on one particular thing that’s bothering me right at this moment, but I guess it’s a culmination of things.  So many things in this old brain.

I applied to go back to uni, so I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear about that.  I’d love to be able to finish my Film Studies course, but unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it may seem.

I’m totally lacking motivation to do anything at the moment, so that’s making me feel guilty.  I enjoyed the sun the other day though, and went for a nice walk.  Baby steps.

I wish people would mind their own sodding business, and focus on their own lives rather than trying to ruin other peoples.  Makes me think of the old ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’.

I’m worried about this whole election business.  Still no one seems to know what Brexit is, and whilst the media are talking about Diane Abbot getting muddled up in an interview, the government are pushing through some very worrying policies that will affect our young people.

One of my cats has been more clingly than usual since she was spayed the other week, and I don’t know if I should be concerned about that or not.

I feel terribly guilty for not making more effort to see people this past goodness knows how many months.  I currently don’t have a car, so I’m feeling somewhat isolated.  I liked being able to just go out for a drive sometimes, particularly if the weather was nice.  Just go and see places.

I don’t have a light summer jacket.  I have cardigans and winter coats, but nothing really in between, so I was thinking of making the ‘bomber jacket’ from Gerties  ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s’ (seriously, something I’ve been thinking about whilst unable to sleep!).

There was something about shoes too, but that’s not in my brain any more.

I worry a lot.  I think too much.

I need to sleep.  It’s now almost 5am.  Fingers crossed for the sandman.

xxx

 

 

 

Claiming Benefits.

I’ve been unemployed since the beginning of April. I made a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, and was put on Universal Credit.  I had to wait until 10th June to get a payment of £238.  I still have all the bills I had to pay before losing my job, so I wonder how people cope, as I can guarantee that I’m not doing so well.  I guess one benefit is that I don’t have to pay for my prescriptions.

Going through the benefits system has been nothing short of traumatic.  I have been patronised, spoken down to and treated like a sub-standard human.  I have asked if I know how to look for a job, been told that I shouldn’t be overdrawn and given incorrect information time and time again.

I have been in work since I was 16, so I know how to look for work.  I am not uneducated, and I’m certainly not scum, so why do employees of the DWP feel it necessary to treat me this way?

From speaking to other people, this is common practice.  It’s almost as if we a taking money from their own pockets.

At no point have I been offered any kind of support.

The benefits system is seriously failing people with mental health issues.

How can Stephen Crabb (Secretary of State for Work & Pensions) even imagine that the system is fine how it is?

When information and support is deliberately withheld, how can this be a good way to run the system?

For instance, I read about budgeting support.  I’d quite like that help.  I was given a leaflet from Debt Advice.  If you ask, you can have your benefits paid bi-weekly, but you have to know about this in the first place to be able to ask.

Universal Credit is meant to ‘reflect the world of work’, but I was paid weekly, all my bills were set up weekly, I budgeted weekly, so how does that system help me?  The amount of Universal credit is roughly what I earned per week, so far less than minimum wage.

I honestly wonder if the system is set up in such a way that they hope to kill off people with mental health issues.  It wouldn’t surprise me.

Maybe Mr Crabb doesn’t realise how this affects someone with such an illness?

Let me enlighten you.

I already mentioned having exactly the same bills now as I did when I was employed full time.  You start getting threatening letters because your bank account is overdrawn, you get phone calls from people wanting the bill paid.  As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, you dread the phone ringing, you don’t know what to say to them, so you ignore it.  You don’t know how to deal with it.  You feel helpless.

You try to eat a healthy diet because you know it helps you feel better, but you can’t afford the good food that you could when you were earning, so instead you start living on pasta and sauce and cheap ready meals.  Your stomach constantly feels bloated and you feel sick.  You feel lethargic and even less inclined to leave the safety of your bed.

You can’t go out anywhere because you can’t afford the petrol.  You certainly can’t afford to socialise unless you’re being paid for, and that causes feelings of shame and guilt.  How can you replay them?

You dread your bi weekly visits to the job centre to be judged by someone sat behind a desk, tarring you with the same brush as those ‘benefits cheats’.  The dread starts a few days before your appointment, and when sat in front of the guardian of the money, you bite back the tears as they decide if your attempts to find work in a place where no work exists were up to their own standards.  You want to yell and scream, but you turn into a tiny, quiet little mouse.  You just want someone to help, but know it’s not likely here, and you have no idea where to turn.  They’ve beaten you down.

All the while, those with the power to make a difference put in their expenses forms whilst you struggle to get by on the pasta and cans of beans you had left over from the last time you were able to do a proper food shop.

I wonder if Mr Crabb will read this?  I wonder what his thoughts are?

This is why I want to move.  I want to make a better life for myself, but how can I even make that happen when I can barely afford to feed myself?  It’s a never ending spiral of worthlessness, failure and shame.

I wonder if Mr Crabb would like to donate?  He could always claim it back on his expenses…

Please consider donating to my Go Fund Me