Superficiality and Desertion

Another slightly controversial post, this time on my perception of people’s reactions once they heard I had PTSD and depression and was out talking about it.

A person spends many years meeting people, associating with people and in some cases becoming friends with selected people. This is especially true when you run a business or are a key person in another company. “Friends” abound as you have something they want or need but once your usefulness has passed they are quick to forget about you and move on.

Oh yes, there are those people who say, “If you ever need someone to talk to, give me a call” but then disappear never to be heard from again.

I was actually surprised by who really seemed to care – it wasn’t the people I thought I was closer to, it was the people who were more on the edge of the associates list – people I dealt with on a business level rather than on a personal one – in many cases people who generally were not spoken of very favourably by the more inner circle of associates.

I was also surprised by the number of people I knew from longer than 15 years ago who did take the time to contact me and see how I was getting on – including some who I barely knew but our paths crossed numerous times all those years ago.  These people interact on here and on my Facebook pages or in private messages and it means so much to me.

And there are those people who I worked with closely more than 20 years ago, who have reconnected and are interested in what I am doing now and wanting to know how they can help. And the people I worked with as a consultant over different periods who have all moved away to other locations but have kept in touch as sparring partners or fellow jokers on Facebook. I would love to name them but I fear I would forget someone and then they would be upset at being left out – it is strange how such a seemingly minor slip can cause such hurt in people, so it’s best not to name anyone.

It is these people who have been the backbone of my recovery and, in many cases, the catalyst for me getting out and about talking about this stuff. They have given me the drive to want to help people who need, and will appreciate, whatever help they can get. It has also got me into meeting new people who are focussed on helping others – they see that what I am doing is beneficial and they want to do whatever they can to help me do my new thing.

I now find it fascinating to see names appear as people I might like to make as a friend on Facebook – “oh I thought they already were… this must be a cloned profile… let me check… hmmm they seem to have dropped off the friend list somewhere – how very odd”.  Well at least one person did call me and say they had unfriended me.

Sadly, it seems that there is still a stigma in society surrounding mental disorders – this keeps many people hiding away and not seeking help from professionals. As a result, they spiral down to the bottom of the pit of despair and never get out of it – or they get out the only way they see available to them..

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Empirical Stress and Depression

So where do you start a post when you are in a seemingly stable period with emotions and feelings. Well let’s start with how I feel at the moment…

For the second time since climbing out of the pit of despair, yesterday I had another very positive day – one of those days where you just feel comfortable, happy and relaxed that everything is going nicely. It’s a bit of a strange feeling for me because over the past ten years I had never felt like this – the closest I got was during the periods of extreme ups and downs in emotions – when even at the top of the cycle, I was just waiting for the crash. Now I get the feeling of happiness and tranquility but no longer expect the crash to come – although deep inside me there is a little voice saying to be careful because somethings going to come along and stuff it up.  However, this is now a little voice not the dominating commanding voice of the past.

This voice I can ignore but it just gives that little niggling feeling of uncertainty. I still wait for the event or comment or action from someone I know that will start the downward spiral – and while there have been a few things in the past few days that would have started that spiral in the past, it never developed and I didn’t slip back into the pit. I have stayed above it all and just moved on – this is what ‘normal’ people do I am told. But you know what???? The more I get into this new me, getting out there and talking to people and organisations dealing with depression, anxiety and PTSD, there more I wonder just how many people are suffering.

It seems to me that there are so many people in the ‘western world’ who are not ‘normal’, and I am also starting to realise that even many of those who think they are normal, really aren’t. It looks like everyone has issues of some sort going on in their heads. For many years I had chuckled at America’s love for counselling and therapists – it seemed everyone over there had a therapist of some description while we in the rest of the western world didn’t.  Now I am seeing so many people in Australia and the UK who have problems and who really need professional help I start to wonder where all these problems are coming from.

I am sure there are experts/professionals/sociologist/psychologists and many other “…ists” that have examined this and have drawn educated conclusions that they have published and received recognition for. But I am but a mere mortal and try to look more simply at why things happen rather than trying to complicate them. So let’s look at it simply and you can draw your own conclusions…

Please place personal ideologies to the side for the next few paragraphs – I am not after a debate on pos and cons of the subject – it is just my perception.

The US is a highly commercial and financial based country that has had a history of people using therapists to manage stress and emotional issues. Countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand were more based around lifestyle, enjoying yourself and getting the job done with a “she’ll be right”  (or equivalent) attitude. We used to chuckle at the therapy reliant Americans.

The UK was an innovating, world leader in technology and (rightly or wrongly) colonisation and had a clearly defined class structure. It’s colonisation strategy was open and obvious and it ‘ruled’ a large percentage of the world – what those of us of mature age call ‘the pink bits on the map’. Now the British Empire has been replaced by the American Empire – a slow and, apart from a few distracting military actions, mainly a financial/commercial coloniZation activity. Interestingly, where the US attempted to exude its will forcefully, it failed but where it used commercial principles, it succeeded.

So we now live in the ‘free world’ under the leadership of the country we used to laugh at because of its reliance on therapists and counsellors.  Funnily enough, a high percentage of us now seem to need therapists and counsellors…

In The Air Again

So here I sit on the back stairs of an Airbus A380 as we wing our way across Eastern Europe at 30,000 feet. A place where I have spent so much time over the past few years – just the need to get up and out of my seat gets me back here. The mind (and bum) -numbingness of sitting for 14 hours with nothing to do but watch television or sleep allows the mind to race of in its own direction. It starts to drift off to paces you don’t want it to go and there is very little you can do about it except meditate or get up and walk around.

But there isn’t a lot of places you can walk; a couple of laps up and down the aisles and then back to your seat. My escape is to go to the back of the aircraft and hang out near the toilets (not my usual practice in life I can assure you) – eventually you get to see or meet everyone in your section of the plane because they all need to pee at some stage. Sometimes you get into great conversations and I have spent many an hour back here with some lovely people filling in time and keeping out of my seat.

The trouble is there is food back here and free drink; and it isn’t good food either – Tim Tams (a bit like UK Penguins) and Coke, so I usually tend to end up eating as well as socialising. But of course there are times where I don’t want to socialise, I just want to stand quietly in my thoughts and wish the flight would be over soon. 10 hours so far and four to go.

Captain Krankypants really needs an airline sponsor so he can get up the front and out of the cramped conditions that really play havoc on the bad back he suffers with – another little injury currently being processed by the veterans’ affairs department. All seems to have gone quiet with the claims at the moment, not suggesting work has ceased but it has now been a few weeks since any contact (apart from the rehab manager who also wants to know what is happening) – with Christmas coming I can guess they are so busy trying to process as much as they can for so many of us before the compulsory shut down over the break that all government departments have over the festive season.

But I am looking forward to getting to England soon and catching the train which is a completely different situation to the plane – the UK really has got train travel sorted out and I find it so relaxing and inspiring . I could spend days just travelling by train, writing blogs, planning the future and relaxing, if only the airlines could do something about their cramped conditions and the food. But then again, the train fare from Newark to Taunton (which I will be doing on Tuesday) is not much less than the flight from Sydney to London… you get what you pay for I expect.

Well this blog post doesn’t seem to have followed the usual theme of blogs but I trust you did notice the one significant factor relating to PTSD – I always get a seat up the back of the plane and spend most of the flight standing right at the back where I an see what is going on and is right next to the escape doors. Yes, I never said I was cured, just in recovery and living with it. Best sign off now, all the children on the flight are starting to wake up and sing the morning chorus – where are those ear plugs….

Oh look a photo…

Stabilise

So it’s been a massive journey so far – from the depths of the pit of despair through to a few days of extreme happiness and joy. Then back to a couple of days of insecurity and standing on the edge of the pit looking down ready to drop back in. And it would have been very easy to do so, in the past I wouldn’t have seen the edge, I would have just started sliding in with no way of stopping it.

So how did I stop it this time… I actually implemented some of the suggestions I have made in these blog post over the past few months. And a  key one was to focus on the goal I have and give me a reason to keep positive. I focussed on preparing the multimedia pack to go with the Captain Krankypants – something to make the shows more entertaining while still being informative.

Going though the slides to make sure there aren’t any facts ad figures, no reasons for and ways to handle that…. Just videos, pictures and words that will get the point across – I think I just about have it ready now, well ready for these first two shows at Newark and  Cullompton. But I realise that to have a set show that is the same thing every time will very quickly become a bit difficult for me to maintain enthusiasm – I am already working on improving the show to make it bigger and more entertaining while still getting the important information across.

These first two shows will also be the ones that will show me what the audience will be and then how I need to adapt the content and delivery to meet the needs of everyone in future shows.  I can already see there will be two markets that will run concurrently – the first will be the smaller intimate shows – like the two coming up in December then there will bigger shows, shows that capitalise on my theatre production skills – I’m not quite sure yet how these will work but I would love them to be live shows with bands and entertainment, smoke and mirrors… all that stuff but still get the important information across.  “The Captain Krankypants We Need Our Heads Read Spectacular” or something like that – evenings where we can get out and have a bloody good time while still helping our mates who are struggling.  Would be happy to hear your thoughts on the idea in the comments below.

The other thing these first audiences is they will let me see the backgrounds of those who come along – I expect a high percentage to be military or ex-military, then a few first responders (ambulance, fire, emergency services, etc), a few health care workers and some victims of violence, disasters and other trauma.  The shows will be suitable for all of these groups and audience input will be very important for me to make sure I get the balance right in the future.

We all need to remember, and this is what concerns me, is that the people who come along to the shows already realise they have a few issues going on and so are going to be there to see how they might be able to improve – there will be thousands of other sufferers who will stay at home stuck in the pit of despair either suffering or not realising they have the conditions.  It really is up to us all to see if we can drag these guys along and get them to realise they are not alone and there is a way out of the pit.

Listen to me… bagging on about getting our friends and family members to get out of the comfy armchair, into the freezing cold to come and listen to some ‘up himself Aussie telling me I’ve got something wrong”.  Just a few posts ago, I was saying how, when you are in the pit, you just want to be left alone to wallow in your own self misery – yep, it’s true and I didn’t say getting these guys to come along would be easy but, just maybe… maybe the thought of listening to someone who has been there and is still doing it might be enough to encourage one or two to come along and start the climb out of the pit.

This post has been a struggle to write for some reason with so many typos as I go along, brain and fingers not syncing well on this early Sunday morning – I think I picked most of them up but if some get through I want you to know it is because once I write the post, I do not read it before posting. These posts are my thoughts as they flow from my head to the keyboard, being the perfectionist I am, if I went back to proof read them, I would not just fix any typos, I would change how things are worded and that isn’t the idea – I want these things to be from the heart via the head through the fingers.

Please guys, comments welcome below and help spread the word through your networks and let’s help as many of our mates as we can…

 

Talking Ain’t What It Was

Warning – this blog gets into some discussion of society and where I see anxiety causing stresses originate. It is my opinion and my experience on my road to recovery – please do not be offended if these thoughts do not align with your political ideology.

You know there seems to be a lot more depression and anxiety around to day than there used to be – maybe it’s true or maybe it’s a perception. Is it just that we are all older now and see the grown up problems when, as kids we were oblivious to it. Because back in the old days (there you go, I must be getting old) kids were allowed to be kids and have fun as they learn and as they grow. Nowadays we seem to molly coddle and wrap our kids in cotton wool while schools hammer them with homework to get as much ‘learning’ done as they can.

Seriously though, what is the point of flooding our future grown ups with so much irrelevant crap that all we really are doing in filling them full of anxiety – I mean who decided that everyone should go to university and get a degree? All we are doing is creating a future population of highly educated unemployed – where are the tradespeople and unskilled workers going to come from?  I on’t want this to get into a long political debate because that isn’t what this is about – this new social model just seems to be bent on creating high levels of anxiety in our kids rather than letting them get outside and learn as they play.

Then this anxiety becomes the norm, the anxious kids become anxious adults and develop depression because they don’t think they can achieve what their parents, friends and society want them to. Depression then sets in and becomes the norm – until eventually some bright spark in the government asks  why there seems to be an increase in suicide rates…

Social media, yes folks including blogging, also seems to be adding to the mix. It now is possible for everyone (apart from a small group) to have access to self promotion and having themselves ‘heard’ by many. What used to be a soapbox in the park is now a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn or even a website. And these electronic soapboxes allow for so many more people so see and hear the opinions of people who generally may not be following the social norms where previously these opinions were only heard in the pub or by people walking by in the park or people reading the placards of the person walking up and down the street.

So as the majority can more easily see the opinions of these minority groups, individuals start to wonder what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. Once again causing anxiety.

It used to be the case that of an evening a household would sit down for dinner together and talk about the events of the day – opinions and experiences would be shared and the ‘air would be cleaned’. The family dinners seem to be falling away with parents too busy to cook and the kids either too busy with their homework (because they have to get into university) or on their electronic device doing something parents have no idea about.  At least with homework parents can attempt to interact with their offspring – even if they also have no idea what it is about – and generally the kids are happy for the distraction – but with the electronic devices… well just try to leverage your youngster away from killing all those people in the latest version of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty…. The ability for families to sit together and talk is disappearing.

There have always been outlets for individuals to talk and get their emotions expressed – the “traditional” stay at home mums used to have the sewing groups, the book clubs, the gin afternoons and other social activities where the women would get together and talk about their problems – including that grumpy git of a husband who comes home from the pub in time to watch the news and have dinner. Of course the husband had been at the pub after work talking with his mates about the problems he was having – including the nagging wife who didn’t like watching the news.

Society has changed so that these are no longer the norm – the informal counselling sessions, as right or wrong as they have been, have dropped away. Men and women are equal and everyone has the right to do as they see best for them, within broad socially accepted guidelines – traditional roles and responsibilities have eroded and it is difficult for some people to know where they fit and what their role in life is. Another cause of anxiety.

The world is a changing place and technology, while a massive help in some areas, also seems to be the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety. From the kids on their games no longer engaging in family discussions through the 24 hour news cycle to the ease with which cyberbullying can occur – there really is no escape from the pressures of life and society – stress and anxiety increase, the need for more formal therapy evolves, pharmaceutical use increases but still depression reigns supreme and suicide rates increase.

Maybe we need to look at a new model for society – I know my stress levels have reduced considerably since I stopped watching the news, reading news sites and even unfollowing (or unfriending) the majority of ‘radical loonies’ who were my ‘friends’ on Facebook – bit I still maintain a good number of friends of varying ideologies because society and our knowledge can only improve if we allow differing opinions and views to be heard – what we must remember is balance is important and that free speech is a way to allow for the sharing of opinions, attitudes and stresses while relieving pressure and reducing anxiety.

*Guys, please remember these are my experiences and are expressed here to demonstrate how I perceive things and what I have done to fight through the conditions – feel free to comment or disagree with anything but please let’s not get into debates or arguments over ideologies.

 

Climbing Out Of The Pit

Oh yes, “The Pit of Despair” as I call it, is that darkness and lowness you feel when being overrun by the feelings of depression.  People always used to say, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Of course that is correct if you are in a tunnel but when depressed it isn’t a tunnel at all, it is a pit. A tunnel is a long enclosed thing generally a lot longer than it is wide and if you keep walking you will eventually get to the other end – and before you get to the end you will see the light from the exit to give you hope and a target to reach.

The pit is not a tunnel – it is deep and it is the same size all round – no matter how much you walk you are trapped inside it and the only thing to do is walk around in circles continually going over the same things you have already been over – passing the same point, hitting the same obstacles and, if you have been in there long enough, wading through your own filth with no hope of ever moving on.

No hope until you stop in the darkness and realise you are going nowhere and start to think laterally (or upwardly as the case may be). Then you realise that maybe (as in the Yazz and the Plastic Population hit in 1988) the only way is up. So you need to sit, think about where you are and be ready for a massive leap of faith – you look up and strain your eyes but it looks the same – dark, nothing and no clear path that you can see. You have no other option – there’s no point in continuing walking around in circles and there is no way to go any lower but it is dark, it is lonely and it is unpleasant – where do you start.

Well the first thing to do is find a wall – the cold, wet, slippery wall that entombs you. You need to feel it, understand that it is not a solid wall enclosing you like a prison cell, it is a mud wall and, being mud, it is pliable, mouldable, able to be dug into. Next you walk around the pit and collect all the bits of advice and support your family and friends have thrown in for you – all that stuff they threw at you to try to help. You know, the stuff you ignored as you walked around in the dark feeling sorry for yourself.

You pile all that stuff up against the wall and climb up as far as you can go but it isn’t high enough. The support from friends and family is now helping you start your escape but it isn’t enough; you need to now start the hard work of climbing.  By now the external help and support has probably dried up and there is no more being thrown in at you – it’s up to you to do the hard work yourself now.

You look up, if you are very lucky you might see a slight glimmer of light (much as I do now as the sun begins to rise on another day) but in most cases you still wont see it – you need to get higher. You now sit back on the pile of support, take a few deep breaths and then turn and face the wall.

You scrape away at it, digging a foothold. Only small but enough to hold your weight – this is important because if it isn’t strong enough to do that you will come crashing back down again at any stage. You reach across and scrape another foothold, then a little higher another then another. You have now the base to start to climb but you also need to start to scrape a hand hold, then another and another until you have enough to climb up off the pile of support. You now have to start the climb – with your feet in the footholds and one hand holding on you scrape the next hand hold – it’s difficult and confusing and in the early stages you make the occasional mistake and slip back a little but mostly you don’t fall.

Falling back down is a real danger on the climb – sometimes somebody will throw something at you that knocks you off the wall completely and you plummet back into the depths but, mostly people will see you working hard to climb out the pit and they will pass you more support – allowing you to climb higher. Eventually you see the light, this spurs you on and you start to climb faster and faster – remembering to make sure the foot and hand holds are strong enough.

As you reach the top of the pit, you are bathed in light and you can see all the people around the edge who were throwing you the support, for the first time in ages, you smile, reach up and take the hand of one of the supporters and climb over the rim and back onto solid ground. You walk away from the pit, not looking back at it but knowing it is there and knowing it will be there for a long time yet. It will take a lot of time for the pit to disappear and you are going to have to spend a lot of time and effort making sure you avoid it until it is closed in.

Avoiding the pit is another story and one I shall attack in the future when I am certain I am avoiding mine – I know the bastard is still there and it wont take much to drag me back in…

 

Friends, Families and ‘Helpers’

This blog is going to be a little controversial I think – I will be slapping the face of traditional beliefs and upsetting any apple cart that comes with 100 kilometres (62.137 miles). Please do not take offence, these are my personal experiences.

Most of us with these disorders have family and friends – yes I know there are a lot that don’t and have resorted to living on the streets rather than in ‘normal’ accommodation but these may be the subject of another blog when I understand their motives a little better.

So, anyway, the majority of us have families and/or that love us and care for us and they can see the anguish we suffer because when we are around them our minds come to the surface and break through the facade – they see the real us and, because they care, they want to help. Alas, they don’t realise that when we are in the pit of despair we don’t want help, we don’t need help, we are happy to be wallowing in our own self pity – we just want to be left alone.  And their constant badgering about ‘needing help’ and ‘go and see someone’ is just a pain in the arse and they should just piss off and leave us alone… please tell me in the comments if this is not your situation, maybe I am just super weird…

And then comes the special treatment – yes it is nice to have a cup of tea made for us, but please don’t get upset if we don’t say ‘thank you’ or if we seem ungrateful. If we seem to ignore you, or not be paying attention, please remember our heads are full of other stuff in these moments – stuff that is not pleasant and the best thing is to let us be and work though the processing.  By all means stay close by and be there to ensure safety but in reality there is nothing family or close friends can do to get us out of the ‘bad mood’ as it is seen.

I have many friends and family who care about me and, since starting this blog, many old friends have reengaged to offer support and compassion – it is a wonderful thing. However, their advice when I was in the pit, was not appreciated when I was in the pit – in the pit you cannot see out of it and while family and friend re-engagement, support and comments might seem irrelevant at the time, they all metaphorically fall into the pit around you, and as they fall in around  you they get in the way of your self pity so you push them over into a corner of the pit.  Then one day you look over and see this pile of stuff and decide you might climb up on it and amazingly from up there you can see the top of the pit.

Now it might not be enough for you to reach up and climb out but at least you can see the top and you know where you can get out – it then comes time to take your own action and restructure the pile of stuff so its a bit higher, then a few more bits are thrown in and the pile can be built up – this is the recovery starting.  But remember guys, while friends and family are giving you the building materials, it is up to you to shape and build the escape structure yourself – if you can’t do that then, as long as you have decided you want to build it, you can seek an expert builder to help you. This is where the psychs come in – please pay attention to that… ‘the psychs’… The experts trained in building the escape structures.

There are many people you can consider a counsellor – priests, rabbis, close personal confidante, yoga teacher, chiropractor, your baby sitter and dog walker, and there are many people willing to listen to your story, and may know a little about what you need, but, in all honesty, they know stuff all about how the brain works and how these conditions affect the sufferer. My experience has shown that qualified psychologists and psychiatrists are the people you need to see – after all they have bee trained in it and you are paying them a rather hefty sum for their advice.

To return to my analogy – you wouldn’t call on your local handyman to do a compete rebuild your house, you would be much be better advised to call in a master builder and a project manager.

Just a reminder guys, these are my experiences and how they have helped me get through this – happy for comments and alternate suggestions in the comments below.  Also please go to the Facebook page and like it – that way you can be sure not to miss a blog and to see where I will be showing up and talking live about all this stuff…

https://www.facebook.com/captainkrankypants/

Forms, Forms, Forms and Reports

Forgive me readers but I have failed to keep you updated on recent events with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

So far it feels as if things are going well, all communication with the Department has been professional and courteous. They seem to be rather decent people to deal with – so different to what I had expected. The reports from older veterans had filled me with dread but the reality at the moment seems contrary to their experiences… but then again I am still at the early stages.

There does seem to be a thing about forms with the Department – understandable really when they are dealing with taxpayer money – but it does seem a touch excessive when doctors have to spend over an hour filling out justification forms for their professional diagnoses. For example on Monday last week I was called into my GP who said he had a form that we needed to complete. I booked an appointment and showed up at the due time – he was running half an hour late as it was the end of the day but this didn’t bother me – I don’t seem to be bothered terribly much anymore about people not being on time.

I was duly called not his room and he pulled out the form, well it was more a volume than a form… about 14 pages I think it was. All asking for justifications for his professional diagnosis. We spent an hour working through the questions – he king doctor things to me in between questions to justify to himself that he was correct in his diagnosis. All this time it’s other patients waiting to see him. Eventually we finished the form and decided he would have to do the medical certificate later in the evening or over the next few days as he could’ve keep he other patients waiting.

As I left, I apologised profusely to all in the waiting room for taking up so much time and keeping them waiting, “I’m so sorry, had to fill in forms for DVA”. The younger patients nodded while the older ones looked at me with with clear recognition of what they had had to deal with when dealing with this and other government departments in the past.

The Sunday before this I had spent three hours on messenger and SMS with my psychiatrist filling out another form relating to levels of severity of PTSD and depression, how I was affected and what the chances of recovery were. It all has slipped into a cloudy mire of fog now as it was so mind numbing but I know he was not at all happy that his professional diagnosis was under questions by bureaucrats following the steps of an internal process. He was particularly miffed where questions asked about the severity of symptoms that were either there or they weren’t. Anyhow we got the forms completed and he wrote a report to justify his previous report and sent them off.

Later in the week I received a call from the GP that the medical certificate was ready for me to collect. I picked it up and added it to the pile of other papers that made up a claim for incapacity payment – a process where acceptance of liability for the injury and and the claim will have DVA pay a percentage of your salary from the date you left full time work through to the end of the medical certificate. As I had left work 18 months previously, it was not an easy task to find details relating to salary, termination letters, letters of offer, etc. Nonetheless, with this final piece of the jigsaw I was able to dispatch this claim via email.

Yes it is important that process be followed with any use of taxpayer funds but when doctors have to qualify their diagnoses to ridiculous degrees – including writing reports to justify their previous reports – it does seem a touch silly. Now I am in a waiting mode – although I haven’t yet seen any questions or justification request regarding the ischaemic heart disease claim. I am sure that will show up soon. Then of course we have the obligatory government department shutdown over the Christmas/New Year period… well as we used to at in the old days… “Hurry up and wait”

Ups and Downs Still Exist

It’s interesting as you travel down the road to ‘recovery’ – there are still good days and there are still bad days. At the moment though it seems that the bad days are nowhere near as bad as they used to be.

I remember during the ten years I kept my conditions hidden the bad days were really bad and the good days were – well – not so bad. It went a bit like this really:

Day 1:   An average kind of day, just toodling along, not good, not bad

Day 2:  Things are looking good, feeling happy, all is good in the world

Day 3:  All ticking along quite nicely, still happy and enjoying things

Day 4:  Hmmm that’s not a good thing, not quite so happy but okay

Day 5:  Start to feel the downward spiralling begin, can’t do anything about it

Day 6:  Past the average point and into depressed state, helpless free fall

Day 7:  Hit the bottom, nothing you can so, don’t try to help me, leave me alone

Day 8:  Wallowing in the pit of despair, leave me alone

Day 9:  Just stop trying to cheer me up, get  away from me, you annoy me

Day 10: Oh things don’t seem so bad today, I might go for a walk

Day 11: Hey a nice sunny day, gardening and exercise for me today

Day 12: Things are looking good, the world isn’t too bad a place, equilibrium

Day 13: An average kind of day, just toodling along, not good, not bad

… and so it went on constantly.  Maybe the timeframes varied here and there but that was life – ups and downs and nothing I could do about it.  I knew the moment the downward spiralling began, I could sense it in me. And I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it, except keep away from people or withdraw into myself. So, people who didn’t understand just saw me as the guy who ran hot and cold, didn’t like to socialise and was always cranky – Captain Krankypants.

What these friends didn’t know was the turmoil going on inside my head nearly every day, turmoil that even got to the point where, as I got into the positive feelings and on the way to a high, I knew that it would only be for a few days before the downward spiral started – so I couldn’t even enjoy the good days because I knew the bad days were coming.

Close friends would try to cheer me up, “Let’s go and do (something I enjoyed)”, “Hey did you hear the one about…?”, “Did you see that show on last night?”.  The poor buggers used to try so hard but to no avail, in fact their trying made things worse – I just wanted to be left alone…

Now things seem to have changed, since seeking professional help (again I emphasise PROFESSIONAL) things have changed. I have climbed out of the pit and seem to be in a state of ‘upness’ where I am happy and enjoying life – maybe it is the whole Captain Krankypants thing that has given me a new lease on life, or maybe I just see things more positively – I can’t be sure at the moment. I did hav a ‘day of negativity’ yesterday – you know one of those days where things don’t seem to go right at all – every thing do seems to not work out, things break, people aren’t helpful, you have to deal with telecommunications companies… all those nasty things.  When I was in the corporate world these were the days you never went to see the client or try to close a deal.

But the day of negativity, followed by a night of not being able to sleep (like now) passed without any serious issues and today, despite it only being 3:30am already seems more positive.  So the ups and downs seem to have levelled off in the positive, with the negatives nowhere near as bad as before.  Although I am still expecting the bubble to burst one day.

Onwards and upwards…

Chase Your Dream

So here we are again – time to look at what we can do to keep ourselves interested and out of that pit of despair. I have been to hundreds of management conferences and wank fests over the years to hear experts tell me how to plan for the future, how to set goals and develop achievement strategies with measures along the way to confirm you are on track – you know the basics of what they say in those things has proven correct in my case.  We all need something to live for, if we don’t have that then we either die or we just exist. Living is more than existing – living is getting off your arse (ass for our American friends) and doing what you need to do to be happy.

Each of us has different measures of happiness and different things that will make us happy. In my case I am happy making people happy, that is why I went into the entertainment business, I love creating shows and seeing people enjoy what I created, money has never really been important to me (much to the annoyance of business partners and family). For other people, money makes them happy, for others it’s internal peace, saving animals, having close family, good music, good food – many different things for many different people. While they are all different goals they have one thing in common – they give the person a goal, something to strive for, a future.

In my case, when I hit rock bottom with my conditions I saw my entire life ripped away from beneath me – yes it was my own doing because of how I reacted to certain stimuli (caused by my PTSD and depression) but it tore away everything that I had worked for over ten years and everything I had planned for the foreseeable future. Suddenly I had nothing – or so I thought – I still had the love of family and friends, even the cat of the house started sitting on my lap giving me affection. But it was to no avail – my brain kept telling me everything was over, there was nothing to look forward to and I may as well just sit in the chair and feel sorry for myself, which is what I did for three or four weeks. 

Then I decided to get off my arse and seek professional help – I know I have mentioned this in an earlier blog but it is important… probably the most important lesson so far – YOU have to decide to get up and seek PROFESSIONAL help. Your family and friends can tell you thousands of times but you wont take any notice, it is up to you to decide to seek help – then you will listen to what you are told. But you MUST go to a professional helper, not a friend, not a family member, not a blog by some stranger standing on a cliff – a professional. Yes they can cost a lot of money but they know how to get you up and operating again – and that is what you need.

Now there has always been discussion about psychologists vs psychiatrists – I don’t want to get into that discussion. I see both at the moment – the psychologist sits and lets me talk and provides guidance on things to do to get out of a bad place, the psychiatrist also listens but also analyses and sees where medications can assist with recovery ( I hope that’s okay J and P – I know you are both reading this). I can honestly say that without the medication prescribed by the psychiatrist, I would have had no motivation to get up and do the things suggested by the psychologist. Do you see that??? “do the things suggested by the psychologist” – setting me goals to achieve.  Only simple things at the start but giving me something to aim for. Which is where we came in at the start, we need goals or targets.

So what did I do – I removed myself from everything I was used to, I took myself to England for three weeks but told nobody I was going there.  I wasn’t shunning all my UK based friends, I just needed to be alone and away from the routine of everyday life – doing new things and things I had always wanted to do. It was on the trip that I decided to start blogging here and hoping to not just clear my mind but provide some help to readers who are experiencing the same thing – it has now become a bit of an obsession and is taking on a life of its own with so many people interested in what I am doing – but remember guys, it isn’t about me, it’s just my experiences and thoughts along a journey that so many others are also taking.

In addition to the blog, the trip away allowed me to see a few bands I had always wanted to see – bands that originally ignited my love for music and entertainment. It was three songs into the John Fogerty concert when it dawned on me that entertainment and theatre are what I really love and what I needed to return to – as a result, those of you who saw the ending of Lockhouse Productions may soon see it rise again – possibly looking a little different and focussing on the theatre/concert aspects rather than all the other stuff we were doing before.  I’m not sure yet if Lockhouse will have anything to do with my speaking engagements in the future or if they will be kept seperate and just handled by that learned gentleman Trace Dann.  Unless of course there is a high level manager/agent who fancies taking it on….