Hanging On To the Edge

I have promised an honest blog and I guess that needs to include the negative events as well as the positive so here we go.

The past two days have not been as positive as they could have been – I don’t know if it was a result of coming down after the high of the first talk in Devon, or forgetting to take my pills in the morning, a drop in sugar levels because of being hungry, the bitter and biting cold of the day or some other influences that I cannot identify.

Around midday yesterday I felt myself slipping back into the pit of despair – it was a feeling I cannot describe very well but it was as if all my positive energy was being drained down my body and out through my feet. It was weird, maybe feeling like a tyre going down – maybe that’s why they say you feel deflated when you get sad…

I knew it was happening but there was not much I could do about. I told the people around me that it was happening and that I need to take a little bit of time out – to be away from people and sit quietly alone and let the process do its thing. But first I took my pills and loaded up on roast beef and potatoes with a hot cup of tea.

I sat quietly alone, eyes closed, stomach full and depression hitting me from all sides. After about 45 minutes, the pills took effect and the food re-energised me. I was again able to function – I felt okay so went about planning for next week’s show and trying to work out some of the social media stuff I needed to do.

I then headed of to a concert to see T-Rextasy and due to a number of factors I found myself running late for the show which started at 7:30. I have always prided myself on never being late for anything but as it got later and later and I was still not at the theatre, I found my stress levels rising again and deep down the old anger that I used to feel when things didn’t go right.

The difference this time was that the anger didn’t come to the surface – I managed to keep it suppressed within me but I felt dreadful. My heart was racing, my head throbbing… I could feel my eyes sinking back into my skull as more small delays kept happening – it’s always the way when you are in a rush – other things happen that slow you down more – or they seem to.

Eventually I got to the concert and after some mistakes by the door staff finally got to my seat where I sat and stewed for 15 minutes trying to control my emotions – I couldn’t enjoy the first half of the show as my mind was angry at myself for not getting there on time – luckily enough, most of the songs I loved were in the second half. And once “Ride a White Swan” was performed (one my favourites) my mood swung around and I was back to feeling positive and could enjoy the second half.

This morning I awoke to what was going to be a long day – the first thing I wanted to do was write a short blog about yesterday but, in true form, I had a problem with database synchronisation that took up all my morning trying to get it sorted. Eventually I gave up and headed off to my meetings. But all day I could feel the depression bubbling beneath the surface – the meetings went well and I think there will be a lot of positivity come from them.

The feelings are strange now – I don’t remember them like this when I was at the bottom of the pit – I feel like I am hanging on by one hand, I look down and see the darkness and know I don’t quite have the strength to pull myself up and out – but I do feel capable of holding on and am confident I will not fall in again. Now I need to find some positivity to give me the strength to grab on with my other hand and then climb out. It might take a few days but I know it will happen.

I know most of you will be wanting to respond to this with positive messages of love and support to try to help me get the strength – while I appreciate your sentiment this post is not looking for sympathy, it is a record of my journey and this negative element is part of that journey – I am hoping we can learn from it. So please guys, no sending love, positive energy, payers or amens.  I know you care and are interested or you wouldn’t be reading this. Stay with me on the journey and we can all eventually get to where we are going.

More soon….

First Show Thoughts

Well ladies and gentlemen, the first Captain Krankypants Live show has been completed and packed away. It is an interesting experience standing up in front of a group of strangers and some friends spilling my guts about mental conditions I am living with. The group was more than expected with a number of additions who walked in off the street.

The place was full with a diverse audience of people from different jobs including military, police and medical professions. There was also a number of partners who came along to support their loved one and to maybe hear ideas on how to best care for them.

During the first half of the show I found myself easily falling into the performance character I have employed many times in the past. The talk flowed, the Powerpoint slides worked and the audience was listening… Or were they???  There was little engagement or visual feedback coming back to me from them – there was little mirth shown from my witty quips and there were lots of stares.  They were probably wondering who this idiot in the pink trousers was in front of them. Nevertheless I persevered through to the short break. I expected many of them not to return after the break…

To my surprise everybody returned and took their seats quickly and I continued looking at methodologies I used to get over the issues. There was a little extra response in the second half but still not what I was used to from the old days of presenting. But at the end of the show the Q and A session was magnificent – a multitude of questions about things specific to the questioner. I promised myself before the show that any questions would be answered honestly. And that was the case…

And when it was asked “So, how many of these shows have you done now?” my response was “This is the first.” There was an audible gasp from the audience and spontaneous applause – I think they might have thought I had been doing this for ages. That, I think, proves the point of how I could put on a positive and confident facade despite all the goings on inside my head – while I wasn’t nervous about the show, I was concerned about how people would react, how the show would flow, maybe I was biting off more than I could chew – yes ladies and gentlemen, the ever confident Captain Krankypants had been struck by a bout of self doubt.

Once Q and A had finished, people left and most thanked me as they walked out. Some went home, some went to the bar for a drink where we overheard them talking about how they enjoyed the show.  While packing up, an audience member came back from the bar to talk about how her life had been changed by he condition but she now felt more at ease with it and was back at work – it was lovely that she spent the time to come back and tell me.

The show worked very well from an admin perspective as well. Mark Dewer has been a friend for a long time now and he pulled this event together from nothing – he put out posters, he spoke to people, he went tot he media and he made me dinner before the show – the weirdest tasting tuna pasta in history. I want to thank Mark for everything he did for the show and hope we can do it again one day.

But once again I failed to do the most important thing… to get pictures and video I could use on promotional material – Despite my confident nature I really am crap at personal promotion.

And here is the only photo from the night – once again thanks to Mark…

Image may contain: Trace Dann, standing

 

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

You Are What You Wear

There is always so much talk about positive thinking and how that can be a tool to overcoming depression – well I guess that is true to an extent. However, I have found that it isn’t positive thinking that makes things happen, it is a positive attitude and attitude is more than just thinking. Attitude is how you approach life and how you behave, how you present yourself and how you feel about things. Positive thinking is just thinking about it.

I have found that how you dress is a part of the attitude thing- if you dress like a slob that reflects in how you feel and how you behave. I know that when I was badly depressed I stopped caring about my appearance, my hair grew long, I didn’t shave, I dressed in track pants and dirty t-shirts. I was a slob – if I sat down outside a supermarket people would have probably dropped money in front of me. I also found that I couldn’t function normally dressed like this – my mind remained in a negative mode and everything was too difficult, I couldn’t be bothered; near enough was good enough.

If I got up in the morning and decided to have a decent shower, shave, and shampoo then dressed in relatively decent clothes I found that my entire attitude to the day changed – yes I was still depressed and had crap going on in my mind but my approach to tasks changed – I was more creative, more productive and more able to focus on the tasks at hand. I was able to get things done. It was as if the “clothes maketh the man” was in full flight. It really makes no sense logically but for me it seems to be a thing that works.

I suppose it all comes down to marketing versus reality – we all hear stories about minor stars who start to believe their own publicity then become obnoxious and up themselves. When I used to look after performance artists, we always ensured they remained firmly with their feet on the ground despite what the publicity machine was saying. In some cases it was even necessary to get them to feel like a star and behave in a certain way because that is what the fans would expect – it is a fine line between confidence and arrogance – much the same as it is a fine line between sadness and happiness – well it is a fine line when you go from happiness to sadness but it seems to be a massive canyon when trying to get from sadness to happiness.

Another amazing way the mind works – we can go about our day as happy as a pig in poo then the smallest thing can happen that switches our mood around and suddenly we are sad or depressed but, conversely, if we are sad or depressed it takes a major shift in mind set and a lot of time to get out of the sadness. If only it were possible to flick the switch the other way – a bit like at night you can flick a switch on the wall and make it light but during the day it takes a lot more effort to make it dark. If only we could invent a switch to make it easier.

Ok this next bit is a bit like mum and dad telling you what to wear and how to behave but trust me, it works for me and it could for you…

So anyway, what I am saying here is that it is important to give your brain the best opportunity to think that it is in a good place – go out and buy yourself a good colourful shirt and some cool trousers or jeans, even get some decent underwear and funky jacket – package yourself up so you look good and I promise you, your attitude will change and you will start to feel more positive about yourself.

The next thing you need to do is start to think about your posture. Stand up straight (it doesn’t matter if you are tall or short), pull your stomach in (yes we are all expanding around there as we get older) and, most importantly, lift your head up – not so high you look like you have crap under your nose but just high enough to to let you look straight ahead out of your eyes not rolling the eyeballs up to look ahead – stop looking at the ground when you walk around – look around you see what is going on, watch other people, cars, read shop signs, look at the trees, the birds, animals; not just the pavement. Once again you will start to feel different about yourself – more positive, happier and more confident – yes you might occasionally step in some shit or chewing gum but, honestly it is worth it.

Just give it a go guys and send me feedback on how it works for you – use the feedback option below or share on the CKP Facebook page.

October 2018
December 2018 with a change of clothes

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/