The Sun Has Stopped Shining

3 Feb

Dear Diary,

I feel so utterly lost and my souring mood has been beaten about the head until it  promised to be forever and a day miserable with a sprinkle of ‘I hate my life’ tears. I suppose I’m always pretty unhappy and I can live with that, but when I feel this depressed it hurts so badly I want to run away from myself. I’m struggling to describe even a small percentage of the pain I feel and it’s taken me at least half an hour to write anything.

I cried yesterday, I cried five times. Tears leaked in the Job Centre, while I was walking to the bus stop, as I was sitting on the bus, when I arrived at my volunteer job at Mind and when I returned home. The tears decorated my face all day Thursday and I haven’t had time to feel all that foolish or embarrassed about it yet.

Bottling up my feelings and pretending everything is okay is detrimental to my health and the longer the problems with the Job Centre continue, I know I’m not going to feel any better. I haven’t been sleeping well since I received the serious looking letter from them and even trying to find out the simplest facts from their call centre is a mission best left to Sherlock Holmes. But after living with Depression for years I know a good sleeping schedule is important to keep the black dog at bay, but how can I close my eyes at night and sleep when I know my life is pain wrapped in a blanket of thorns?

When I take a step in the right direction and there’s a stirring of happiness which is a feeling I’d long since forgotten, I feel a little braver and think maybe I can achieve all of my goals, become someone, the person I’d love to be, but then the cold light of day hits me square in the eyes and I realise the world is a cold, dark, unforgiving place where the average person is ripped to shreds.

I’ve still been searching for a job and even applied for one at a hotel/bar in my local town centre. But between you and me, I don’t hold out much hope for a golden reply of, “Yes! Come in for an interview right away. You’re just what we’ve been looking for!” Yet there is a small pocket of hope deep inside me wishing I’d never ever have to darken the doorstep of the Job Centre again. Do perfect jobs even exist and where can I find them? More importantly how can I become confident?

Do you know why I first wanted to volunteer for a mental health charity? I knew I needed to improve my confidence because I struggle to believe in myself. Not only is Mind an excellent place for people weighed down by the world and their mental health issues, but when I go there  everybody is so lovely. I stand there and feel like I completely lack any type of social skills, I’m nervous, I beat myself up and I don’t even understand the concept of small talk. Even when I’m asked to help write a press release I can’t help but type away and then hit the back button until I’ve deleted every single word. I belittle myself, I can’t stand to be given a compliment because I despise who I am and I don’t believe I have anything of value to contribute to the team.

I want to be confident, but I don’t want to become an absolute nightmare. I want to be happy, but I don’t want to skip down the street beaming at everybody I meet.  I want to beat this depression into submission, but most importantly I want to use everything I’ve learned about myself to create something positive, long lasting and if happiness decides to make a reappearance again, I’d be eternally grateful.

To be completely honest with you, I don’t know what to do or where to start. When life begins to close in on me, should I run away or stand my ground with a trembling bottom lip and a stubborn, tearstained gaze? I guess the time has come to make that decision because I’m the master of my own destiny and despite being blown of course by the most ferocious of storms, I’m still standing, if not with a little trouble and a broken heart.

– Raindrops

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I want to be Happy

28 Jan

Dear Diary,

On Thursday I felt a fleeting moment of happiness and I loved it. Remember that Mind volunteering job I wanted? The one where I’d get to write and make a difference to those who suffer from mental distress? Well I got the job. I know I don’t get paid but it’s a start and even on the first day I realised I was going to love every moment of being there because people understand me. They’re not going to question me when I feel down or even judge me when I’m feeling so depressed I want to crawl to the nearest hiding place and never be seen again. But like I said, that was a fleeting moment.

Today I woke up to a very serious looking letter with my name on and the envelope was light brown. The colour is significant because it means the Job Centre have decided to do their best to make my life a misery again. At first I thought it was a reply to the complaint I’d made about my job advisor, but do you know what it contained? It was three sheets of paper informing me I was no longer going to receive money because I’d refused to apply for a certain job. There is a set of numbers beside the rambling letters from the typist but I don’t know what job title it’s eluding too and of course the Job Centre has to be closed today! I don’t know what to do or even how to fight the decision because they don’t care about a young woman, who has little confidence, tries her best and was actually happy on Thursday. Why would they care? I’m only one person and when I try to take them on it overwhelms me. Sometimes I think they like it that way. They like people to be overwhelmed or to just say, “I can’t be bothered with this. I’ll let them win instead.” But if I don’t stand up for my rights, what happens when somebody else who suffers from depression or some other kind of mental health condition visits my local Job Centre?

It makes me realise when my mood has slumped and I feel so utterly lost, I’m easily trampled over and the Job Centre have become masters at this. Even my Job Advisor can peck away at me and I’ll dissolve into tears. I sometimes wonder if it gives her pleasure to push until my life begins to sail away from me and my depression rears its ugly head. She will sit there and ask why I’m late, I’ll explain the buses aren’t running on time and she’ll shoot me down before I’ve even finished my explanation. “That’s a story,” She’ll say. “The buses are always running on time.” I’m left sitting there and thinking I’m telling the truth, so why am I being treated like something she’s stepped in? But when she strolls in late from lunch and I’ve been sitting there waiting for over fifteen minutes that seems to be okay.

What I really want is to be treated with respect. Just because I’m depressed and may snap or cry sometimes, it doesn’t mean I’m any different to you, or anybody else. I’m certainly not treated with any such respect at the Job Centre and I guess that will never change. When I’m there they talk to me like I’m a liar, because every time I say something I receive a look and an answer of, “Yeah, yeah”. Then there’s a roll of the eyes and the woman types furiously on her keyboard. Now I’m starting to wish I knew what she was typing on my details because she could be putting anything. Especially when I know I’m telling the truth and she’s there on the opposite side of the desk arguing with me and labelling me as a liar.

Since November my moods have been flying all over the place. I had about four to five days where I was on top of the world, swiftly followed by the most soul crushing depression and then I felt extremely hyperactive again. There’s been almost three solid months where I’ve been forgetful, not myself and I can’t even start to begin to understand what’s happening to me. Then I visit the Job Centre where I’m treated like I’m worth nothing, I’m a liar and I’m a benefit cheat. That is how I feel right at this moment. When I sit in front of my Job Advisor and I know I’ve been searching for jobs and I can’t remember where, that isn’t an act, because I truly can’t remember the dates or times or even names of the places. There was even an entire week where I felt hyper, high and depressed all at the same time and I was still trying to search for a job. If you think that was easy, I’ll tell you right now, it bloody wasn’t. I was falling apart and I was trying to cling onto some kind of semblance when part of me knew it was an impossible task because when your mind is falling apart, job searching when you truly believe you’re worthless is not going to cure the problem, but only make it much worse.

I seem to try but ultimately I always fail and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m in floods of tears right now. If there’s something I truly, truly despise it’s failing and I’m always and forever falling into that trap. I’m a failure, I can’t find a job and even when I secure the best volunteer job in the world, the happiness is torn away from me.

So thank you Peterborough Job Centre. You’ve made me feel like a benefit cheating, waste of space that pretends she looks for work while she also puts on a show and says she has a mental illness.

  • Raindrops

I’m Plagued by Thoughts

21 Jan

Dear Diary,

I’m at my most dangerous when I begin to think and I’ve been doing just that over the past couple of days. It’s strange how I can avoid listening to my thoughts and feelings because I have gotten into a habit of waking up each morning and wanting to cry. Depression has the power to strip your personality down to the bone; it knocks your confidence more roughly than a Tsunami and leaves you with little more than a shadow of your former self. Only now with the help of counselling am I beginning to piece together my thoughts and learning to stand my ground when a problem arises. It’s all too easy to curl up in my bed, tug the covers over my head and hide from the world when I feel like I’m falling apart, but I want to grow as a person and I above all else I have to succeed.

Everything I have ever touched has fallen apart whether it was my family unit, hopes of an education or my mental health. I blame myself continuously for everything that has ever happened because isn’t it my fault I’m depressed? I’ve heard so many clichéd responses to a depressed person, I’m sure I could write a book on it. But common sense usually prevails and I remind myself Depression is a treatable mental illness, I’m seeking help at long last and I don’t wish to be smothered by this black cloud for the rest of my life.

It’s far too simple to allow myself to be labelled as the “Depressed Girl” until the end of my days and if I did that, what would I achieve? And furthermore, wouldn’t I have wasted my life fluctuating between being miserable and downright drowning in my own tears?

Sometimes I can’t help but think it would be easier that way. If I remained depressed and feeling like an outsider each time I stepped out of my front door, I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain and stir up memories I don’t want to deal with. When I hit the age of eleven I was already a master at bottling up my own misery, sealing said bottle and hiding it under my bed. Before I knew it I was sleeping on a mountain of bottled tears and the tip of my nose was greeting the clouds.

Refusing to be drawn on my feelings worked for me at the time and I stuck with that very way of life until the age of seventeen when I became absolutely terrified of my own thoughts. When I look back now it’s obvious to me I became severely depressed by the time I reached eighteen. I was suicidal and wanting nothing more than to leave full stop. I self harmed, I cried myself to sleep, at times I even felt like I was losing my mind because I was in so much pain, but I’m still here now and whenever you hear the phrase “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” take heed, because it’s true.

When I’m faced with another wave of depression now, I see the oncoming signs and I know when to hunker down. I avoid getting into situations that will drag me down further, I cry when I need to shed tears because bottling things up is dangerous and I type my innermost feelings out and post them here. There are many reasons why I do the latter, but the most important aspect is this: I would never want anybody to feel as alone as I once did.

Overall and with almost eight years of depression behind me I know I’m okay right now. I’ve been better and I’ve certainly been worse, but feeling “okay” gives me a foundation to work from and with the correct tools, I will construct a life around me before the year is out.

– Raindrops

Nothing

15 Jan

Dear Diary,

It’s early on Sunday morning and I haven’t even tried to sleep yet. However hard I try I can’t seem to pinpoint the reason I’m still awake when the time is slowly wrapping rings around me and leaving its marks in the form of dark circles underneath my eyes. My mind is being weighed down by box upon box of clutter and leaves me wishing the removal men were imminent with a lorry the size of Rupert Murdoch’s bank vault. There was a single beacon in the heavy mist of my mind though and I thought if I chose to write my thoughts down, it could lead to a place where sleep happens to be hiding. Think of it a lot like an insane, slightly clumsy and utterly dreadful game of hide and seek.

Right at this moment I feel nothing and it doesn’t terrify me in the slightest, but it may worry me a little. My heart is sinking, I’m trying to run away from my responsibilities and I feel nothing. It’s so difficult to describe to those who have never felt this feeling and I’m sitting here struggling to do just that. Detached is a word that comes to mind and I believe it will serve me well. I certainly feel detached from the world and everybody in it and this fills me with a sense of relief. Detached equals little or no pain and surely it should make me happy but it never seems to have that affect.

Detached and incredibly self-conscious, the latter merging almost seamlessly inside me until I’m at a loss to see where I start and the black cloud begins. Why I should feel so self-conscious at six thirty five in the morning I do not know, but many of my insecurities stem from that. I don’t just believe my body needs bulldozing from the feet up, also my personality leaves a lot to be desired and what in hell’s name am I actually good at? Everybody has something they can do which amazes others and would set the world alight if released into the polluted atmosphere, yet I’m left with a large question mark looming overhead. I can’t draw, I’ll never create cuisine fit for a Queen and I can moan, but have yet to reach the dizzying heights of Victor Meldrew status. So I’m still left with more unanswered questions then I can shake a stick at which does little to amuse me.

Sleep? No chance.

Sometimes it feels like I’m rounding up sheep. Rowdy sheep who like to party all night and keep the neighbours awake. Sheep that even during the day refuse to eat grass and would rather cause mayhem in the nearby villages with their shifty eyes and kleptomaniac personalities. That’s how stressed I feel right at this moment, especially when I can’t sleep. If I was the farmer who owned a farm full of troublemaking sheep I would be tearing my hair out and begging for a job at Aardman Animations as a script writer. I guess that’s beside the point though and I’ll always be thankful my sense of humour is intact. I’ve found when I having nothing else left in life, a little joking and banter are what help dry the tears until I’m ready to face the world again. It’s only a shame good jokes are hard to come by.

I still have no interest or intention of sleeping. I’m sitting here lost in my thoughts and pondering how many people out there right now are unable to sleep for whatever reason. And I looked the word ‘nothing’ up in an online dictionary. The information I found was rather dull but “nothing’s” first recorded use was in sixteen thirty one. I wonder who first used the word and if they were on the slippery slope to sleep hell? They probably weren’t but it would reassuring to know I wasn’t the only one to pander to such darkness at a ridiculous time of the morning.

Sleep? I think I had better try before I lose my mind completely.

Raindrops out.

New Year, New Life?

31 Dec

Dear Diary,

As the time rolls closer to midnight, I find myself sitting here and thinking. Thinking about points A, B and C. Yes, my mind is that organised I have even taken the time to label my thoughts. You can take pity on me for having far too much time on my hands or applaud me; the choice is very much up to you. But anyway, back to my thoughts. My ever so amazing, glittery, sparkly plans for 2012…

Firstly say hello to my first thought: I want to volunteer for Mind. For those of you who have no idea what I’m typing about and think I want to spend even more time in my own mind, nope, your own brain is a little crooked. I don’t want to turn knight in shining armour and vanquish my own problems; I would rather spend time helping others. Mind is a mental health charity in Great Britain and it does a great, great job. Oh, I can’t believe how cheesy that sounds. ‘Great’ is not usually a word I would use but hey, please have pity on me. It is New Years Eve and there is some absolutely shocking music on the TV right now. (Who is Loick Essien and why did 210,000 people buy a song which makes my ear drums vomit?) The Mind wheels have already been set in motion and I’m determined to see that through until the end in the New Year.

Secondly and I know you cannot wait to read about B, so I had better not keep you waiting any longer. B is a very special letter because it revolves around my studying. I was actually (And I’m sure you’re all really shocked by this admission) the world’s worst ever student. I was terrible and no, that word doesn’t even cover how utterly lost and trampled upon I was when I was attempting to do my A-Levels. I was eighteen, newly depressed and the school system chewed me up and spit me out. I felt like such a failure for not being able to complete my studies when everybody around me was doing just that. So now I’m older and slightly wiser, I’m studying with the Open University. I’ve passed my first course, sixty credits are mine and now I want more. Yes, I’m one of those greedy individuals and everything has to be mine. – Cue a carefully orchestrated evil cackle that will turn your blood to ice- I want my English degree and I will gain it!

Thirdly, I only want to be happy. This is a huge undertaking and I know at times it’s going to be a struggle, but right now, as the clock races further to the end of a year I would absolutely love to place firmly behind me, I feel like I’m on course to do just that. 2012 is going to be different because I’m going to tackle every issue head on no matter what it is. Isn’t it funny how you can become accustomed to avoiding life when it becomes too difficult? I do this. In fact, I do this so well I was expecting to be mentioned in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for being an avid avoider of all things ugly and annoying. But alas, Old Liz passed me by without a second look and I’m absolutely gutted. No really, I am. I hope you know I’m currently typing this with a miserable look painted on my face. That OBE could have been mine!

As the song Come On Eileen winds down (This really has to be the strangest New Year’s track listing ever) and Elton John begins (Seriously? Elton John?) I’m hoping 2012 is going to be my year because that is all I have: Hope. Hope and a sense of humour, and those are two traits you need to hold close to you when you’re hurting.

That’s enough from me this year.

  • Raindrops

 

Sunshine with a Chance of Laughter

13 Dec

Dear Diary,

I’m happy today, there, I said it! I feel like a different person and I couldn’t be more bewildered by my change in mood. It’s like the windy weather has blown away my troubles and given me a new lease of life. I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a couple of weeks but I was busy trying to find a way out of that deep, dark, bleak, black hole I had found myself stuck in. Thankfully I didn’t approve of the living conditions down there, so I wrangled with my depression until I could stand on my own two feet again and pulled an Indiana Jones. Yes, I climbed out of the hole, dusted myself off and smiled. I think I’m also extremely lucky my face didn’t crack because it’s been a long time since I have found a reason to smile.

I know it’s important for me to continue this diary and explore my thoughts and feelings whatever mood I happen to be in. I want people out there to know there is light at the end of the tunnel when you think you have nothing else to live for. Even when you feel like your heart is breaking, you still need to fight, fight and never give up because this is the only life you will ever have. I guess what I’m trying to say is “Fight, live, love, laugh and be happy!”

Another issue I can’t gloss over anymore is the problem with the Job Centre and now I’m feeling so much better in myself, I know I can fight the decision they made when they stopped my money for two weeks. It caused an abundance of problems, sent my depression spiralling out of control and left me penniless. I guess the money I lost isn’t the most important aspect because the woman’s behaviour to me was what pushed me to break down there in the first place. I only wish people would realise how their actions can affect somebody’s state of mind when they suffer from a mental illness. An exchange of words might seem like a completely normal occurrence to you, but to me when I’m crumbling inside, it feels like a personal attack and heaps more emotions onto my already unsteady mind.

I also have no interest in alcohol, none at all. I only seem to drown myself in spirits when I’m desperate and alone. If anybody reading this ever feels so down they feel the urge to drink: don’t do it. Alcohol is one of those friends your parents never liked you spending time with. It corrupts you, leads you astray and soon enough you see the cracks start to appear in your friendship. You’re better off finding somebody to talk to, just talk and talk some more. Even writing down your feelings can help when your mind is racing. If you write down some thoughts that are bothering you it’s easier to help yourself and if you choose to seek help, you won’t find yourself in a maze of silence and confusion when it’s time to explain your heartfelt feelings.

I guess that’s enough for now.

-Raindrops

 

That Dark Cloud is Stalking Me

28 Nov

Dear Diary,

It’s been a funny sort of day and I don’t know where to start. I’ve cried to the point where I’m surprised I haven’t caused a flash flood and no, I’m nowhere near the point of exaggeration. I forgot how much depression hurts, how badly I want to fall flat on my face and stay there until I’m nothing but a distant memory. Like I said, it’s been one of those days. I’ve walked around on autopilot, pleading with my emotions and I really didn’t want to break down in public like I did, but it happened and I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face.

I guess it all started when I left the house today. I’m still so tired, my sleeping schedule is worse than a newborn baby and without sleep, I’m terrible. I snap like a rabid dog, I act as though I’ve never heard of the word ‘patience’ and I’m probably not the type of person you want to sit down and have a conversation with. I get tearful and before I know it, I’m a walking waterfall. That’s what happened earlier and I still can’t pinpoint where it all went wrong. It would be easy to blame the buses, seeing as once again they weren’t running on time and because of that I was ten minutes late for my Job Centre appointment. Yes, I suppose the bus driver played his part in my tears today. Also the queue I was met with when I arrived, that annoyed me further. Still, what really pushed me over the edge was the waiting.

Sitting there for over forty minutes, my name was eventually called and I sat down at the lady’s desk. This was the part where everything fell to pieces. She started telling me off for being late, I explained about the bus not being on time and how it was full before we’d even gotten half way to town (That always happens when the buses are slow.) and she rolled her fucking eyes at me. I was told the buses ran every ten minutes, so my ‘story’ couldn’t have been true. I’d pushed back all her appointments, made her late and the same happened last week. And this is the part where I snapped back at her.

I was on time last week and I told her so. What made her late was the fact she stood there gossiping for a while to one of her work colleagues and left me waiting for over fifteen minutes. Yes, that’s what I told her, but I sprinkled my argument with a handful of ‘bloody hells’ and the likes.

She stared at me stony faced and said “Well, if you want to play it that way…” and then started to fire questions at me.

What have I been doing to look for work? Where’s my booklet? Have I been writing things down? What websites did I look at? Times, dates, places… It started to overload me and before I knew it, I was crying. Fat tears were rolling down my cheeks and right at that moment, I’d had enough. I ended up yelling at her and saying I couldn’t give a toss about any of this right now. Christ, that’s where I really shot myself in the foot, because she’s now trying to get my claim shut down… Well, at least she gave me a tissue before I left.

I then had to go buy potato fucking seasoning from Marks and Spencer. Of course I didn’t have to, but I would never have heard the end of it if I hadn’t picked up that bloody packet of crap. I just walked around in a daze, fighting the urge to cry again. It was difficult but I held on to my tears until I stepped through the front door.

I thought I was getting a little better, yet my mood took a nosedive today. Even with the medication I’m religiously taking I don’t seem to spot a difference in my day-to-day moods. It seems like its one step forward and ten steps back. I can’t sleep properly and I’m snatching a couple of hours here and there. My brain’s like a hamster on a wheel, it’s forever running but never getting anywhere, only turning in circles until I’m so exhausted I cry and eventually fall into a light sleep.

After a phone call, I now have something else to keep me awake at night. Shit, I’m probably the worst friend in the world and today I feel like the depression can claim victory because I’ve well and truly lost the battle. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll feel better? I can always hope, but right now even that feels like a struggle of epic proportions. Still the battle lines are drawn in the sand and with the waves crashing down on me; I’ll live to fight another day because Tuesday won’t know what hit it.