Tag Archives: Depression

Letter to Myself ~ aged four and threequarters

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My inner child,

It was not your fault that you were taken from your mother and put in an incubator, just after you were born.  You were not well when you were a newborn, and they had to put you in an incubator to keep you alive.

I know you loved your nanna, and that she loved you too.  It was not your fault that she went away and left you .  She was an old lady, and she just died.

It was not your fault that she died.  It was not your fault that your parents did not explain that nanna had died.  It was not your fault that nobody told you why she had to go away and leave you all alone.

Your parents did not know how to show you their love for you, and that was not your fault either.

I know you felt abandoned and unloved when you were a very young boy, but you were not to blame.

Please let yourself grieve for your nanna, and let her go to heaven to be in peace with the angels.  Please forgive your nanna for dying and leaving you.  Please accept that she loved you, but now she has gone.

Please forgive yourself, the blame was not yours to take.

Forgive yourself, and live in peace, happiness, and serenity from now on.

All my love,

your older self.

~

P1040484jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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Reality and Denial

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Surreal Seascape

Without a ruthless search for and acceptance of reality it is almost impossible to live a rewarding Life which will fulfill your true potential.  Yet the vast majority of people would rather live in denial than accept the truth of their personal situation.

Chronic Denial of Reality can be seen in almost all alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, drug addicts, the obese, criminals, politicians, people in dysfunctional relationships…  Yet without admitting there is a problem there is no possibility of fixing the problem.

Accepting and embracing reality is usually difficult and painful.  But, the first of the Great Truths is that Life is Difficult and Painful.  The path to recovery from suffering and mediocrity lies is recognizing this truth.  In fact, dedication to recognising and accepting the truth makes us better able to deal with the real world, and not be trapped in the world inside our own heads.  Real truth is reality, ~  lying to ourselves and lying to others traps us in an unreal, looking-glass world.

tom-hanks-and-cast-awayThere is a strong tendency to hope that bad things will just go away.  There is an even stronger tendency to lie to ourselves, and completely ignore negative feelings, events, and situations.  This shows either a total lack of self-discipline, and / or an underlying psychological or issue.  Even when one is searching for truth and reality, the real issues and problems are sometimes difficult to discover.

In my own case I spent years suffering all kinds of symptoms, from alcohol abuse to being in a series of dysfunctional relationships, before I was strong enough, and willing enough, to search deeply inside myself for the truth.  For most of my life I was unwilling to accept reality.  I have now realised that I suffer from a borderline personality disorder ~ a fear of abandonment.  Which is one reason I live alone, as not having a partner means that I could not be abandoned by my partner.  Fear of abandonment is common and if you suffer from it the disorder will blight every relationship you ever have ~ even to the extent of not entering into close relationships in the first place.

What is Denial?  What is Truth?  What is Reality?   Denial is not a river in Egypt.  Denial is actively refusing to accept the truth.  There is no absolute truth ~ my truth is different from your truth.  For me, searching for the truth seems to be a daily challenge to ignore the myriad surreal falsehoods which come my way.  There is no ultimate reality.  My reality is different from your reality ~ and I’m not ever completely certain what is real and what is a lie.  For example, I firmly believe in the law of cause and effect, but I now know that simple model of the Cosmos does not always hold true. Reality can be as disorienting as any dream state hallucination.  The picture above is a seascape, but it is both true and unreal.

To do more than just survive, to get by in this world without continually suffering, and without being the cause of suffering in others, we just have to do the best we can to be as completely truthful and real as we can.

~

P1010717jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

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The Road Less Travelled

Alternative Living # 9 ~ Solitude and Mental Health

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Most of my life has been spent alone.  When I was a child I sought solitude.  When I bought my first place I lived alone for 5 years.  Even when I had a partner I spent most of my time alone, travelling, being ‘on the road’ for work, living out of suitcases in lonely hotels 4, 5 or 6 days a week.  And now, I have lived alone in the seaside apartment I call ‘the garret’ for over ten years, and nobody is allowed into the garret.

Turns out that spending too much time alone can be very bad for your mental and spiritual health.

Turns out that some of the things I’ve done in the past few weeks have convinced me that I am spiritually /mentally ill ~ and you probably have no idea how much it hurts to admit that in writing.  I am pretty certain that I have become a sexually repressed obsessive alcoholic who also suffers from stress, anxiety and depression.  Maybe with a few other problems thrown in.

Admitting the problem is the first step to recovery ~ and there is a plan I can use to become the true me, without the baggage of behavioural problems I have been carrying.  Admitting that life is difficult is the second step to recovery.

Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we see the truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult ~ once we truly understand and accept it ~ then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.  ~  M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Travelled.

I belive that Dr. Peck’s book is based on The Four Noble Truths from Buddhist teachings.  The Four Noble Truths lead to the Noble Eightfold Path, and it’s this road I intend to follow to recover from my need to avoid all pain, my suffering of uncontrollable cravings and lusts, seeking out and clinging only to what is pleasurable.  It is a long journey, not a final destination, to my becoming the good and true person I know I can be.

Wish me well.  ~  jackcoller7@talktalk.net

~

eightfold path

 

Alternative Living # 7 ~ Alone

locked-doorLiving alone is perhaps the ultimate expression of the alternative lifestyle, yet so many people now live a solitary existence in their home.  Perhaps I have taken it a little far with my Rule # 2 Nobody Is Allowed Into The Garret.  (The garret is what I call my small loft apartment.)  Literally this means I never have house guests, dinner guests, lunch guests, random visitors, or girls I want to sleep with, in my place.  My place is my space and I don’t want another person in my space.

There are upsides to this very solitary lifestyle.  For example; nobody leaves their junk around, everything is tidy and clean, the garret is exactly the way I want it, I can do whatever I want when I want, and I never have to ask anyone if they’re happy with what I am doing or how I am doing it.  If I need to paint the whole place black, then I will.  As it happens the garret is completely decorated and furnished in white and natural wood.

You know, one of my fears about living alone so long is that you get used to doing everything your own way.  ~  Terry McMillan

There are some downsides to my isolated and remote life.  For example being seen as antisocial and reclusive, which I am anyhow.  Other potential downsides include being; lonely, friendless, introverted, withdrawn, introspective, unsociable, and being literally without help in times of crisis.

dink+smokeSome people who live alone can develop some quite nasty habits, for example; never washing or changing their clothes, never cleaning the place, not eating properly, keeping strange hours, drinking too much, smoking too much, taking drugs, watching too much pornography, spending all of their time on-line…  In fact, living alone can be dangerous for your health.

I have been guilty of some of these undesirable habits from time to time ~ particularly drinking too much and keeping strange hours.

Perhaps the most common characteristic of someone who lives alone is that we become far too reflective and thoughtful, too introspective, too philosophical and meditative, too broody and serious, too melancholy and solemn, and too set in our ways.  This can lead to some serious mental health problems such as melancholic depression ~ luckily for me it’s mostly women who suffer from this treatment resistant disorder.  My personal disorders are that I suffer from obsessive thinking ~ which I have always had, but then I have mostly always lived and worked alone.

Hungry people are always thinking about food; poor people are always thinking about wealth.  Obsessive thinking can kill your dreams.  ~  Stephen Richards

The ‘cure’ for living alone but not falling into these traps is to have an active life outside of your home.  However, as I have discovered to my cost, taking the solitary lifestyle mindset outside the sanctuary of your own home can get you into serious trouble.  What gets you into more trouble is if you flip from being solitary and introspective at home, into being extrovert and available outside of the home.

~

Smoking-Cigarette-holderjackcollier7@talktalk.net

dark musings

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~

sombre introspection

depression evolves emotions

spirit withers

~

P1040270words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

We Admitted Our Lives Were Unmanageable

WE ADMITTED WE WERE POWERLESS ~

THAT OUR LIVES HAD BECOME UNMANAGEABLE

In 12 step recovery programmes this is Step 1.  In Alcoholics Anonymous the full text reads;

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable. ~ The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This is very specific and it is directly aimed at those among us who have a desire to stop drinking.  However, the shorter text I have given in the heading applies to a large proportion of the people on this planet.  Everything seems to be out of control, we don’t know where to turn, nothing seems to help, ‘I can’t go on like this…’  If we go to our doctor he will most likely diagnose Anxiety and Depression, and dispense something like Prozac.

Many of us will find that the drugs dispensed by our doctor don’t seem to help much.  Some of us will spiral downward into severe depression, and if we were not heavy drinkers before all this happened, we may well turn to the bottle, or street drugs, unsafe casual sex, overeating, or just staring at the wall…

The sad thing is that our doctors are doing their best to help us ~ as it turns out doctors can’t much help to cure this sort of problem.  To begin with, the underlying cause of our problems is probably still there.  Problems at work, or money problems, marital or partnership issues, child care ~ the list of people, places and situations making people’s lives miserable is almost endless.  And, anxiety and depression can lead to far worse than taking a few too many drinks of an evening ~ violence, mayhem, suicide, murder are among the really bad possibilities.

The reason I don’t Kill Myself is because I know I can. ~ Stanley Victor Paskavich.

Stanley Victor Paskavich ~ Genius by birth, bipolar, disabled Gulf War veteran, poet.

The other sad thing is that sometimes it’s impossible to remove the proximate cause of our troubles ~ we need that job, they are my children, she is my wife.  It’s another Catch-22 situation, the job is killing me but I need the job to live.

The first step on the road to recovery is admitting we have a problem.  This is where recovery begins to fail.  Many of us are unwilling to admit that we have a problem.  Some of us will go to an early grave because of liver failure, cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, pancreatitis, cancer, damage to the central nervous system, or an accident while drunk, still saying that I don’t have a drink problem.  Some of us will stay in an abusive relationship because she loves me really.  Some will say that cocaine isn’t addictive, or that the job isn’t so bad, really.

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Denzel Washington playing a very hungover airline pilot in Flight

Some of us, (myself included), may be, or may have been, a High Functioning Alcoholic.  Part of the insanity of alcoholism is that it will allow some people to go on working at the highest level, even while they are a complete lush.  This is denial writ large.  Denial is one of the main signs and symptoms of addiction, and denial can take many insidious forms.

And in my mind, this settles the issue.  I would never drink cologne, and am therefore not an alcoholic.  Augusten Burroughs.

Augusten Burroughs is the bestselling author of Dry and Running with Scissors.

The first step on the road to recovery from any serious problem is that illusions must be smashed, broken into bits.  Sometimes this means we have to reach Rock Bottom, meaning that we have sunk as low, lower, than we could have ever believed possible.  Trust me, however low one has sunk to reach what we think is rock bottom, if we don’t change our ways there is another rock bottom below the one we are on, and another filthier, dirtier, rock bottom below that.

I will not go into some of the horror stories I have heard from others, or what happened to me.  I will tell you that if you imagine the worst possible thing you can think of happening to you, then rock bottom is infinitely worse in ways that you will not believe when they are shared with you.

Eventually, if one doesn’t die first, we will be prepared to admit that we have a problem, that we are powerless, that our lives are unmanageable.  This is where another set of serious problems beset us.  We say the words, but we don’t believe them.  We say the words and we use self deception to ensure that we don’t really believe them.  We say the words and believe them in our head, but we don’t believe them in the depths of our soul and spirit.  This is where we need to begin to discover our road to spirituality.

Spirituality requires an acceptance of reality, a dedication to absolute truth, a real determination to find one’s own path to psychological transformation and spiritual growth.  Spirituality is not religion, spirituality requires no God, although some of us find the concept of a ‘higher power’ both useful and comforting.  Spirituality requires that we believe in the power to change ourselves from within.

If we admit that we are powerless ~ that our lives are unmanageable, we need to believe that with the same certainty that we believe in Gravity.  We need to believe that our lives are out of control with the same conviction we hold in the fact that night follows day, and that the sun always rises in the east.  (Anyone having a smart thought about when the sun doesn’t actually rise in the east needs to learn the meaning of humility.)

The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity, but the achievement of serenity and spirituality within and above it. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr ~ theologian, ethicist, public intellectual, professor at Union Theological Seminary.

If we are capable, this is when we need to begin some of the simple routines which will help us on the road to spirituality and serenity.  The easiest and most practical of these is to go for a longish walk, every single day, rain or shine.  By longish I mean for an hour or more ~ distance doesn’t matter, and if you are not feeling so well, then don’t try and walk too quickly.

The next thing to do is to try and eat some decent food.

There are some other suggestions in this JackCollier7.com blog which you should find helpful.

Depression ~ How To Survive

CLINICAL DEPRESSION IS A SERIOUS ILLNESS

Real Health is not an absence of illness.  Real Health is feeling positive, alive, energetic, empowered, physically and mentally well, happy even.  Most of us have known that good feeling of self-reliant love for oneself and the world around us from time to time.  Conversely, some of us have known what it is to have an absence of feelings other than a feeling of impending, formless, grey doom and despair.  The utter helpless hopelessness that can prevent us from performing even simple tasks, such as dragging ourselves out of bed to visit the bathroom, eating, thinking even.  This latter type of negative health may not be simple sadness.  Some people suffer from periods of depression ~ incapacitating gloom and doom that can lead to loss of personal identity and a death wish.

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if you cannot even get out of bed, then you may have a touch of depression

Clinical Depression is different from unhappiness.  Unhappy people can identify the reason for their unhappiness, talk about it, deal with it, get through it.   In depression there seems no way to cope so the sufferer’s brain switches off feelings and the person becomes emotionally dead and utterly isolated.  Regrettably, any good and redeeming feelings there may be floating around are switched off along with all of the bad feelings.  Descriptions vary, some say it’s like being in fog, in a white room, alone in the dark, crushed under a heavy weight of dull misery.

Anyone can suffer from depression, although some seem to have a lifelong battle with the black dog while others can sail through life without once knowing the killing self-doubt of pointlessness.  The causes of this curse may have been created as far back as childhood.  ‘We are not interested in you. I do not love you.  You are nothing.  You are not important to me.’  If one get’s much of that in childhood you’re not set up to be full of joy later in life.  Not that it makes much difference to the sufferer, but the people in white coats recognise more than one type of depression;

  1. Exogenous.  This is reactive depression caused mostly by an outside event.  Bereavement, physical illness, betrayal by a loved one, losing one’s job…
  2. Endogenous.  This kind of depression comes from within.  This may be the kind of depression that has its roots in a lack of nurturing childhood love.
  3. Mixed.  Obviously, anyone with a tendency to suffer from a depression coming from within can have a depressive episode triggered by an outside event.  Being constantly miserable may be enough to chase one’s significant other into the arms of another.
  4. Smiling depression.  Nobody sees the tears of a clown.
  5. Masked depression.  This is very difficult to recognise because the person the depression is hidden from is you ~ as well as depression you are suffering from self-deception.  The symptoms are most likely to be physical rather than obviously emotional.
  6. Manic Depression.  In its severe form this is more properly known as Bipolar Disorder, and is most likely a genetic disease because it seems to run in families.  This illness is characterised by severe mood swings, which may take months to switch from depression to elation.
  7. S.A.D.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  When the nights start to draw in and the weather changes, S.A.D. sufferers feel worse and worse as winter approaches.  Often the symptoms of depression abate with the approach of spring, but if this happens year after year it can be a debilitating condition.

If you are depressed for the first time it is very difficult to know what is going on.  The brain slows down and it becomes difficult to think, let alone to think about what may be wrong.  Generally, if you feel very low, if everything seems hopeless, if there is no interest or joy in life, and if this goes on for days, weeks, months…  then you may be suffering from clinical depression.  If you are self-aware enough, and you have been feeling like this for a couple of weeks, then you need to see your doctor.  Don’t just bottle it up, try to get some outside help.

The symptoms of depression can be complex but the warning signs are;

  • A feeling of doom.
  • Feeling helpless and hopeless.
  • Loss of interest in everything and everyone.
  • A feeling of infinite detachment and indifference.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Inability to perform daily routines.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Sleep changes.
  • Anger, irritability, reckless behaviour.
  • Either a loss of appetite or compulsive eating, or both.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, casual sex, reckless driving.
  • Aches and pains for no obvious reason.
  • Self loathing.
  • A feeling that you would be better off dead.

Attempted suicide is only too common for people with severe clinical depression.  If you are drinking heavily or taking drugs during depression, then you may be even more at risk.  Mix depression, alcohol, reckless behaviour, and over the counter analgesics and you have a very dangerous combination.  If you are self-aware enough there is one key warning sign.  Feeling as though you would be better off dead is bad enough.  Starting to do anything about it means that you are in serious personal danger.  Warning signs include; putting your affairs in order, saying goodbyes, planning how you will do it, buying the necessary drugs / whatever, a sudden feeling of peace and calmness…

If you see these signs in yourself or in a loved one, then you need to seek immediate help.  As well as your own doctor there are The Samaritans, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Church, and your own friends and family.

Curing your own depression is very difficult.  One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to do very much of anything at all, up to and including helping yourself out of the deep hole you are in.  However, there are some things you can do, both in the short and long-term;

  • Stop taking drugs, other than anything given to you by your doctor.
  • Stop drinking so much booze.
  • Eat sensibly, even if it tastes like cardboard.
  • Stop isolating yourself.  Get outside among people, make a telephone call.
  • Take some gentle exercise.
  • Establish a regular routine.  Go to bed, get up, get clean and dressed, eat…,
  • Talk to people who have the ability and experience to understand, or just talk to anybody about anything.
  • Do some work of some kind, even if it’s just reading.
  • See your doctor.
  • Stop lying to yourself and others.

There is a lot your doctor can do for you but it boils down to medication and / or ‘talking therapies.’  Neither of these is an overnight miracle.  It may have taken your whole life to get into the slough of despond, getting out of it may take a while.  However, once you stop going downhill you will start to feel better.

If you feel as though you would be better off dead, then get immediate help.

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