6. Symptoms and Solutions!

My lists. Writing it down disassociates it from me. Makes it easier. Simplifies things. It’s no longer racing through my mind. One less thing for Betty the Demon Depressive to put into her food processor of my mind and whisk furiously for a few hours.

Try it! Write it down. Write down everything. Worries, anxieties, symptoms, everything. Get a piece of paper. Get a ream of paper. You may well be writing for a while, but it helps.

My mantra …. “This is an illness. I want to get well, so I am going to get well, but it’s up to me to do it.”

In terms of symptoms, this is my list of what I had to cope with and I daresay you could probably tick some and add a few more ….

  • Exhaustion ….Betty cackling and chatting in your ears 24/7 is somewhat tiring. Needing more sleep from roughly an hour after I woke up.

  • Lethargy …. A simple task was a mountain. Anything from picking up the shopping to having to clear up the dishes.

  • Procrastination …. Delay, delay, delay. Anything that I considered tricky to do, I would ‘leave til later’. Usually because either I was too tired to deal with it, or it involved making a decision, or it meant phoning/emailing/basically being in touch with the world (and of course Betty told me that the world is a nasty place – and I believed her).

  • Anxiety and fear – Fear of the present (auto-correction just put in ‘President’ – this amuses me!) Fear of the future. Fear of people. Anxiety relating to everything.

  • Anger …. Anger at myself. Anger at people. Anger at the world.

  • An aversion to doing anything new …. Or anything that involved physically moving from bed.

As Looney Tunes used to say in the cartoons, ‘That’s all Folks!’

Now it’s time to get better!

That’s in essence what happened to me. I made the decision to get better by using every available resource available to me. So I wrote List 2, the solution:

  • Exercise – I shall find something, anything that involves working up a sweat.
  • Diet – Remember to eat …. the good stuff. Breakfast is a must. Am starting to go off this whole idea ….
  • Alcohol – Either stop or moderation at the very least. This could be problematic.
  • Therapy/Counselling – I’m loathe to admit it, but I’m rather middle class, so this doesn’t sit very well with me, but hey ho! Give it a go! Crikey, I’ll be doing yoga next!!
  • Yoga and/or Pilates and/or Meditation – Really?? Dear God, I really can’t be doing with whale music and finding my inner wisdom. Keep an open mind.
  • Medication – First port of call
  • Sun – Somewhat tricky in Glasgow but possibly a sun ‘light’ if all else fails.
  • Find a Positive Indoor Activity – Baking, cleaning anything that I can do without leaving the house for very dark days when going out is simply not possible but will ensure there’s physical activity rather than hiding behind the sofa with a glass of wine and a box of tissues …
  • Consistent routine of all of the above – Structure

These were my two lists. This was my starting point. I now had plan which in itself was the most wonderful relief. I really was going to get better.

☀️ K x ☀️

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2. Acknowledgement

One pretty miserable day a few months ago, I hit what I suppose is commonly known as ‘Rock Bottom’. I call it miserable because a) it was raining and b) yes, I was miserable.

To be fair, neither point should have been much of a surprise, because firstly I am currently living in Scotland, Glasgow to be precise, i.e. west coast if your geography is as ropey as mine, where if it’s not raining, then frankly it’s about to, and secondly I was always miserable.

Actually that’s not strictly true … I was sometimes manically happy and sometimes pretty angry too, internally that is. As a child I had never witnessed anger (apart from when my father got the lawnmower stuck in the ditch again and my mother was clearly anxious that he’d got mangled underneath and had lost a limb or two as how on earth would he be able to mow the grass then? – that, and when he had slightly over-exuberant bonfire and lost both eyebrows, eyelashes and frizzled the majority of the front section of his hair; she wasn’t best pleased then either – perhaps she had visions of him doing a complete Joan of Arc. I don’t know, but I digress … suffice to say, apart from a couple of occasions, it was not something that reared its ugly head at home. (A bit like talking about sex or politics – both of which were highly taboo subjects. ‘Darling, never discuss religion or (hushed voice, eyes darting nervously around) ‘nooky’ at the table, you’re bound to cause offence’. Right …

Anyway, back to that particularly miserable day …. So you see most of the time I was either internally raging (some of the time) or as anxious as heck (most of the time), over-thinking everything and anything (all of the time) or just plain pissed off (my ‘constant’). A not so happy little bunny then …

Pretty exhausting actually; and that’s what I was, exhausted, exhausted by life. Of course in real terms I’d actually only just got out of bed and made a cup of coffee and yet I was dog-tired, knackered, worn out both physically and emotionally. A bit like jet lag when you want to go back to bed but know that in fact you’re better off fighting through it until the end of the day.

So, for me, it’s firstly acknowledgement. Acknowledging that I am ill. Acknowledging that dear old Betty the demon is once again not just knocking on the door, but has let herself in and is making a cup of tea and getting oh so comfortable.  She reckons she’s here to stay.

I was not physically ill, but mentally not great (slight understatement as per usual but you get the gist).  Personally I can’t bear the phrase ‘Mental Health Issues’ as pictures of padded cells and mental asylums with children being ripped from mothers’ arms spring to mind, so if I ever had to describe my state of mind, I’d simply say, “my serotonin levels are a little low right now” (same understatement)  as the prospect of having electric shock therapy whilst being tied to a table wasn’t awfully appealing, therefore I’d tone it down a tad …. ‘Right now’ also means that this is temporary. Because it is.

Now I’m going to pass this over to you a little and may I be a teensy bit bold here and shout this bit? IT IS TEMPORARY!  You may just be having a blip; you may have lived with this for ever, but now you’re going to get better.

But, and here’s the almighty BUT, and sorry to point out the bleeding obvious, only you can actually do it. Yes, there is a mass of help available out there and ways of getting better, but first of all you have to acknowledge that what you’re suffering, although common, is not normal and therefore not to be tolerated! And secondly, you have to want to get better (we all know how soft and comfortable it is under the bed) and finally, only you can actually do something about it.

It’s a bit of a bugger really – this is not something that can be delegated.  You can’t for the first time hide away from this and get someone else to do it.  Bit scary really and you’re just so darn tired.  I know.  I get it.  Been there, done it and worn the t-shirt, probably got the jumper and matching trousers too …

In the past for me, it has crept up so slowly that I don’t notice it, until WHAM! Suddenly it’s on top of me and it’s suffocating and I panic.  But as I got older, I started to recognise the symptoms.  Hey ho …. Back to the GP then.  Now, to be clear, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not one for taking pills nilly-willy, and I’m certainly not recommending pills for everyone, but for ME  the GP is my first port of call.

Now I just have to actually get up and make that phone call to the surgery.  Hmmm … Another cup of coffee first?  Noooooooo just do it! Now!  In your pyjamas before there are no appointments left and you can procrastinate another day.  Just do it.  Sounds like a Nike advert I’m afraid but really, just do it.  Ok I say to myself and yes, I do it and strangely feel a little better.  Now I’ll have that cup of coffee.

May the battle commence!

☀️ Kx ☀️

1. The Beginning

I think I should be clear from the outset, that despite the rather odd title “How I Killed Betty”, this is no crime story.  This is not a thriller, something akin to an Agatha Christie novel set in 1930’s England with beautiful women and dashing young men drinking champagne for breakfast whilst a festering body lies behind the rhododendron bushes ….. My apologies if you’re looking for a ‘who dunnit’ with Miss Scarlet in the library with the candlestick. I am not Miss Marple or indeed Poirot because ‘Betty’ is not in fact a person.

Betty is a part of a person; indeed, a part of me. She is the devil that sits on my shoulder, the voice in my head, the co-joined twin that you can never be rid of. She is the person who controls me, my thoughts, my entire mind and as a consequence of this, my actions.

Several months ago Betty slowly began a painfully long and slow death. A death which was something akin to a horror movie where the baddie again and again rears up with the knife ready to inflict more damage despite 46 bullet wounds pouring blood from their victims torso with various limbs hanging off. Yes, a long, slow and definitely painful death.

Betty is Churchill’s ‘black dog’ and hundreds of thousands of men and women’s depression and anxiety from all over the world which hinders their every day enjoyment of living, or indeed, the ability of just being able to live.

Betty was my personal demon who had to be killed and shrivel up like the Wicked Witch of The East in The Wizard of Oz who is flattened by the house and all that is left is a pair of red, glittery Jimmy Choo style shoes.  Frankly it was either that, or I would have ended up in a small fermented cocoon-like sub-existence under my bed with my laptop googling ‘how best to kill yourself with minimum pain’. Needs must.

In this blog, I’m including parts of my diary from the early days and tips and suggestions and, well quite frankly every single thing that helped me become transported from the utter depths of despair and self-loathing onto the wonderful road of sunshine, warmth and sheer happiness.  Yippedy doo dah! Enjoy!

☀️ Kx ☀️

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