Friday the 13th: Mental Health (Prequel)

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(All picture credit goes to Sarah Andersen dear god please don’t sue me)

Friday the 13th, an ominous day for all of those as superstitious as me. And probably a stupid choice of day to have an important mental health appointment on.

Considering how cynical I am, you wouldn’t think that I would be so superstitious. Oh but I am: I touch wood when I say something risky, I don’t open umbrellas indoors, I don’t walk under ladders, and I genuinely consider not leaving the house on Friday the 13th. It’s not so much that I believe in the folklore as that my luck is so bad and the universe seems to have such a sense of humour when it comes to my life, that if something were to happen to me on Friday the 13th, it would just be typical. People would scoff and roll their eyes and say “that sounds about right.” That is the luck I have.

So today I woke up determined to make a mental health plan of some kind at the doctor. I prepared myself for all of the previous questions I’ve had to deal with: have you thought about exercising? What about making some changes? Have you considered that you could just be in a slump?

I have decided to document my mental health journey from this point onwards, partly because I find writing very cathartic, and partly because I haven’t found many accounts of depression treatment online. I found some discussions of why people feel they had depression, how they felt after treatment and discussion about the stigma of mental health, but very little on the use, effects and after-effects of antidepressants. I very much believe that there is a mental health stigma, and I think that a way of removing this stigma is by discussing clinical treatment, as you would any other illness.

So I thought I would talk about my appointment today, and perhaps people can take my account of dealing with depression as an honest observation, rather than a tragic story, which for me was certainly one of the reasons I struggled to admit I was mentally ill- I didn’t want to have the narrative of the tragic sad depressed girl, and this is one of the reasons I didn’t seek treatment until long after I should have.

Now onto the story; it’s still rather fresh, so bear with me.

I brought my mother with me today. I don’t usually bring her with me to the doctor, and truth be told, in the beginning I intended to keep this to myself, just quietly deal with it on my own, and not give my family more to worry about. There was also the difficulty of admitting I was depressed, it made me feel weak.

But this was the 3rd appointment I’d made with the GP who had steadily rejected me everytime I said I had depression, so I decided to call in the big guns, and my momma is scary.

Firstly I got up, showered, made sure my hair was shiny and my chipped nail polish removed, my mum joked that I should have left it on if I wanted to look depressed, never mind that I hadn’t showered or changed out of my pyjamas in two days, this appointment was all about appearances.

I arrived at the doctor and I had to wait a while, but I wasn’t about to complain as it was so busy, I’m sure they were more stressed than me. As I walked down the hall into the appointment room Dr Dickhead (you’ll understand why in a sec) told me that a medical student and the nurse practitioner would be in the room with us. Firstly we talked about my stomach problems (side note: I don’t think I ever talked about my bodily functions to such a large audience before), and afterwards the nurse practitioner (who I’m convinced was an angel in disguise because she was lovely) asked me if there was anything else I wanted to discuss and I very cheerily said (which I’m not sure helped) that I thought I had depression.

The doctor immediately had this look on his face. I’m sure everyone knows this look; the ‘oh not this again’ look. Then he went through all of the previous motions- have you thought about exercising? What about making some changes? Have you considered that you could just be in a slump? After I said that I had tried all of these, he repeatedly asked if I had made enough changes (extremely condescendingly I might add), and despite my deep-seated desire, or even a need to be angry with him instead of upset, I couldn’t help myself, I just started crying. The thought of leaving that room without medication or counselling or something was devastating.

The nurse practitioner and the medical student made sympathetic noises, my mum started cuddling me, and the doctor looked a little guilty. He asked if my cheery demeanour coming in was simply a facade. This was exactly what I didn’t want; a crack in my mask, to have to confess that the past few years have been a charade of happiness, pain hidden behind a smile that seemed to fool just about everyone, until I got drunk enough or low enough to talk to someone.

Depression is something like going through life on autopilot. For me it was either the emotional equivalent of watching paint dry, or terrible terrible lows. And it doesn’t matter how many runs you go on, or how much happy music you listen to or how many comedy shows you watch, there is just this ever present, underlying numb nothingness which threatens to turn into crippling anxiety and upset at any point. So you go from utterly emotionless to hysterical in seconds.

After me making very clear that there was no change left to be made, he prescribed me some antidepressants. Finally.

The strange thing about this encounter was that the doctor seemed to feel that the depression was because of something I’d done, or because of something I need to move on from, I don’t think that’s the case.

For some reason, treating myself as if I had a physical illness was a comfort after admitting I had depression. In my thinking, I had a chemical imbalance in my brain that needed to be treated medically, and the doctor treating my depression as if it was a life choice I had made killed me a little inside.

I immediately texted my friend who studies psychology and told her the pills I had been given, she was very concerned and helpful and warned me of addiction and said that I was always free to talk to her if I wanted, I am very lucky to have her in my life.

Oddly enough, unlike bouts of depression I had when I was younger, I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts, I like to think that’s because I have a better outlook on life now. I know now how much things can change in a day, a week, a year. I mean things have even changed in half an hour before. Besides, I always saw my depression as a kind of adversary, something to conquer, and you don’t do that by hurting yourself. Perhaps I should name my depression Moriarty, my nemesis that never seems to go for long. Although I’m not sure it’s a fan favourite…probably because it’s not played by Natalie Dormer or Andrew Scott.

No matter what, the way I’ll get through this is with an unshakable and never-failing sense of humour. So that’s where I am today. I just took my first pill, let’s see how this goes.

Happy Friday the 13th! And this should go without saying, but do not under any circumstances go camping tonight.

Lucy 🙂

Future Brain Farts

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(All picture credits go to Sarah Andersen)

Ok so for some reason (probably the ungodly amount of caffeine and sugar I’ve consumed today) I have a real fire in my belly today.

I want to get planning.

At this point I have more or less decided that I want to be a writer or publisher, and right now I’m leaning more towards writer.

I have had the stupid/wonderful idea of travelling for a big part of this summer, which will of course make it impossible for me to get a summer job.

I want to travel and write a blog about it, and possibly use the blog to make some money, not to mention it would look great on a CV. My big problem is that I said that I would start putting ads on this blog when I hit 50 followers, I am about 20 followers off that.

To make money by using ads on a blog, or to get a popular blog you need a following, and an angle. I think that travelling might just be mine. How I’ll do that, or if that will be successful remains to be seen so this could either be an epic experience or an epic disaster, or possibly both…

In other, more random news, I have started to write a novel. I’ve planned around the first 15 chapters and written 2. For some reason I find it quite soothing. I know it’s stupid and naive and bound to lead to disappointment, but I can’t help but have the romantic daydream of it getting publishing and doing semi-well, which is dangerous to think about, but the more I write, the more I want to keep writing, and the more I think I might actually finish this book.

This is all very exciting, but simultaneously I feel as if I am standing very still. I predict many late nights writing for 3 likes per blog in my future, but for some reason I can’t stop.

Is this my passion? My calling even? Or am I just fooling myself?

 

New Year, Gin Hangover

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New year, new me!

Just kidding, I’m wonderful already, now onto the actual news.

Despite my tradition of not making New Year resolutions because nobody likes a sober, skinny bitch anyway, I’ve actually got a very exciting year ahead of me.

I’ll (knock on wood) be graduating uni, hopefully get a 2:1 (must remember to make that pact with Satan), and I’ll be applying for journalism masters courses.

I’m also planning, or rather my mum’s planning some trips with the family, and I’m looking into some solo ones too. I’m planning on inter railing this summer; so far my planned destinations are Paris, Rome and Florence. More might be added to this list as I’m hopefully going for a month, so watch this space!

I also have a journalism course in a couple of weeks, and a week of work experience at the end of January in a publishing house in Edinburgh, so all very exciting things!

I was actually planning on finding someone to go inter railing with at my mother’s behest, but when I suggested bringing one of my friends, she looked a little glum. I think she’d rather I took a boy, but short of making use of a mail-order boyfriend service, I don’t have many plans to get a significant other- I have a dissertation to write, 14000 words might make it hard for me to go speed dating.

I planned this blog post on my phone, drunk on New Years Eve and I’ve actually written ‘I want burgers’ as a point of interest. Drunk Lucy has fantastic priorities. Or maybe that’s a resolution- if so I stand corrected, New Year resolutions can be fantastic if you let them.

I also waxed poetical about Elizabeth Bennett (?) and how I should give the romantic notion of new beginnings a chance…drunk Lucy is surprisingly optimistic, it’s good to know that even drunk I can still acknowledge the brilliance of Jane Austen.

I will hopefully be getting antidepressants next week, I’ll at least be seeing a doctor, so that’s something. With any luck this will be the year I get my head together.

But don’t worry, I can’t see myself getting my shit together any time soon- baby steps!

Happy New Year- hope most of you are over your hangovers by now! And remember, it’s not still the holidays but having chocolate for breakfast is completely acceptable- fuck the system!

Glad Tidings and Family Feuds

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Merry belated Christmas blogosphere! Or just Happy Friday if you’re not into that.

I am surrounded by the remains of Christmas day; which includes the carcasses of not one but two Toblerone bars and a celebration tin with nothing but bounties residing in its depths, as well as a prosecco bottle and a pringles can.

It was a fairly good Christmas, albeit a very jet lagged one. I got all of the books I asked for because my mother is a wonderful human when she isn’t forcing me to watch terrible TV. My mother also outdid herself with her fantastic Christmas dinner, and since it was my first mum-made roast dinner in 4 months I can honestly say it was divine. I also passed out at 4pm and woke up at 11am the next day but that’s irrelevant- jet lag or prosecco nap? You decide.

But this was all slightly marred by my mother not enjoying the holidays.

She likes cooking and the presents and seeing my brother and I, but she has to constantly mediate between me and my grandmother, and my father avoids my nan so my mum doesn’t see him, and considering that my dad works a lot that is a big shame for her at Christmas.

Nan also disapproves of drinking and considering that Christmas is the one time of year when everyone in my family likes to get merry, it’s a bit of a killjoy.

Also for the first time ever I understood why my nan (that’s grandmother in scouse if you’re not from the UK) and I often butt heads. I realised that she tries to make my mother and I fight.

Now I was a nightmare teenager and my mother didn’t really know how to handle me, and there were also the issues that came with being sent to boarding school at 13, that I might get into in a later blog, and my awful re-sit year, which again I might get into in a later blog, but after my rocky adolescence we actually have a very good relationship now.

But my grandmother plays favourites and complains a lot; I don’t want to get into it too much otherwise this will just be a character study on my family, but my grandmother is a bit of a man-hater (not a feminist, I am a feminist and I am very clear on the difference) but at the same time she holds my brother to much lower standards than me, which my mother greatly dislikes.

My mum did not enjoy this Christmas at all so I think we will be going abroad for the next one, which is a prospect I am really excited about, but the problem of my grandmother remains- what would she do? She has loads of friends, I mean it; her social life is better than mine, but would she feel comfortable spending the holidays with them? She has another daughter who stays in the area every Christmas but theirs is a rocky relationship.

There will probably be more to come on this, but for now I might have some exciting news about my summer plans, and a possible career goal. Watch this space but hopefully this will work out.

Apologies for the very ‘Hi I’m Lucy and this is my life blog’ but more exciting things should hopefully come soon as I have an internship in January.

If I don’t blog tomorrow Happy New Year, and may you not need your stomach pumped by 11:30 tomorrow!

It’s a Christmas Miracle!

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I experienced my very own Christmas miracle yesterday.

No, no one got cured from cancer, it didn’t snow while I was proposed to by Ryan Gosling, and I didn’t meet J. K. Rowling. It was, if possible, better than anything else that has ever happened. A brilliant highlight in the history of human events.

I’ll tell the story, it’s rather wonderful and touching, so I won’t judge if you shed a tear or two.

I travelled home yesterday, one flight from Montreal to Heathrow, and then another from Heathrow to Edinburgh. Now everything started off pretty spectacularly because somehow I managed to get into business class, and since I am traditionally seated seated next to a man-spreader or a very chatty child, or both, the seclusion of my little pod was literally heaven for introverted little me.

But of course, if you’ve ever read any of my personal blogs, you’ll know that good things for me are usually followed by a crushing disappointment. So, knowing that the next plane could not top the last if it tried, I sat at the gate, listening to the screaming children and reading the email the airline sent me saying that this plane was going to be extremely busy.

In my extremely sleep-deprived and dishevelled state, I sat and thought glumly about who I would be seated next to. A perspiring middle aged man? A hungover business woman, still smelling of gin? Or, shock-horror, someone who actually wanted to talk to me?

I knew that I had a window seat so it was all about the person in the middle.

Having missed the British tradition of queuing so very much, I got on the plane fairly early and I sat in my seat, waiting to be smushed against the window and to give myself a six-pack doing gymnastics in an attempt to not touch the person next to me.

The person on the aisle seat arrived. The rest of the passengers ambled in and sat down. Then the captain announced that we were preparing for take off. The woman on the aisle and I could barely believe it. We just stared at the blessedly empty seat in wonder. Wasn’t the plane meant to be full? Day before Christmas Eve and all? And yet, the seat was empty. Beautifully, wonderfully, miraculously empty.

And that is the story of how I had my very own Christmas miracle.

 

Heartfelt Goodbyes

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So the very reason I began this blog is now coming to a close. It’s time for me to go home.

I began this blog as a way of documenting my term abroad in Canada and it kind of spiralled into a poetry/diary/political commentary blog.

A lot has happened in the past four months. I decided that I want to be a journalist. I made some amazing friends, and I discovered that I hate snow a lot more than I previously thought.

I also discovered that I am quite brave.

Moving halfway around the world, far away from any family or friends wasn’t easy, and there were times when I wasn’t sure if I would cope, but I did.

I would even say I flourished here. Taking myself out of my old life helped me to clarify a few things about myself, and about what I want. After all of this time I can now safely say that I am ready to enter the real world. Do a real job. Take risks, travel far, push myself out of my comfort zone.

For those of you that have followed this journey from the beginning (all two of you), you’ll know that I went into this not knowing what to expect. I was adrift and questioning what I wanted and what I needed and who I was, and while that’s still happening, I feel like I know what I have to do now to get where I need to be now.

Even if this post gets no likes, and no one sees it, or cares about it, for my own sake and my own happiness I might as well say it- I am extremely proud of myself.

See you when I’m back in the UK Blogosphere, stay foxy!

Lucy 🙂

 

 

Millenial Panics about Politics

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(Picture credit to Sarah Andersen)

Hello blogosphere!

I am interrupting our usual scheduled blogging to talk about politics again.

I’ll admit I am starting to panic a little, and I’m not sure if that’s the norm for someone who is informed about politics or if it is a genuine response to what could potentially be very politically dangerous goings on in the world right now.

People are talking about the EU dissolving and the era of liberalism ending and considering that I’m fresh out of a lecture about the Fall of Rome I suppose I’m in a fairly fatalist mood.

That might be in part because apparently this year the world conspired to give the world not just one, but several potential new Hitlers. Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Theresa May (Although she seems more like someone who would follow Hitler then plead fear at the Nuremberg Trials). Just pick one, any of them could potentially cause very long-lasting damage to the West.

I am certainly biased in my views of the EU. I study history and I view this type of group as a force that will ensure peace in Europe and aid in avoiding another world war, or perhaps another cold war. And because I am a history scholar I keep getting this image in my head of an A-Level exam in 50 years; To what extent did the events of 2016 lead to World War III?

I do absolutely think that governments are overrun with career politicians more intent on being something instead of doing something. I am well aware that in the UK in particular the government is not benefitting the working classes and there needs to be a shift in favour of helping everyone, not just the few. I think there needs to be a change. What exactly that change needs to be, or how to bring it about, I’m not sure. This is incredibly frustrating and I am very much an outsider looking in, for those actually experiencing these issues it must be infuriating, hence the rise of populism.

Populism is historically very divisive and negative; ergo the prejudiced rhetoric that surrounds it. In Britain I do not actually think that people overwhelmingly hate minorities, which might be naive or a very precarious attempt at being positive. But I think they overwhelmingly want some form of change, which is understandable.

I do feel that all of this division and hate and anger will spill over into something eventually. It could be the cultural and widespread movement of liberalism like the 1960s, or it could be a war. These are uncertain times, and there is an uncertain future.

I am young. I want to travel and explore and live without fear of living in a war zone, or being dragged into a political upheaval, or a populist uprising, which are all very real possibilities in these times, just look at what our armies are doing right now. They are bombing places, making people homeless, killing civilians and creating war zones, and then scapegoating refugees as drains on our system for daring to seek asylum, from a place that our government helped destroy.

For my generation, one of the most free to explore and enjoy the world in decades, there is now a very real fear that this will be taken from us because of political upheaval, and I’m not sure we have anything but an elitist government to blame for that. But I am certain that dissolving the EU, scapegoating immigrants and refugees to cover all manner of sins by the government, or populism in general is the answer to these problems. Perhaps it’s time for people in power to take a step back and realised that they caused this, or rather that they could have done more to stop this.

Political systems all end eventually. We just have to hope that this is not the end of ours, and if it is, that the transition is fairly smooth and does not replicate the wave of revolutions that swept the world in the 19th century.

Does everyone feel better? No? Me neither.