It’s not about living anymore, it’s about surviving. I’m dying on the inside, and it has to stop. My grandmother always used to say “tell the truth and shame the devil.” So I guess it’s time to shame that arcane, evil bastard.

I wish, just for once, I would allow this inferno of a pressure cooker inside me to just explode, gushing out a scalding geyser of everything that’s making life pretty helpless, painful and empty, in a glorious maniacal onslaught. I wish I could tell you what a shitty existence I feel I’ve fallen into, through no fault of my own, and how deeply and unavoidably unhappy I currently am. I wish I didn’t have to hide this disease, often for the preservation of others, often to appear normal and healthy on the outside. I wish I wasn’t so good at applying and wearing undetectable makeup with the only purpose of giving me the appearance of health and glowing vitality. I wish I saw a bright future ahead of me, with exciting adventures to seize with unquestioning, open arms. I wish I didn’t often see potential love – and even the world – casually pass me by. I wish I didn’t crave the love of ‘one’ so intensely. I wish I wasn’t alone. I wish I didn’t daydream about a life with my very own beautiful children, only to shed many a tear over the children I will never have; that’s one of the things that hurts me the most deeply of all.

I wish I could grab a bag and run out of the house at five minutes notice because a friend surprised me with a weekend away or just for a perfectly spontaneous dinner date. I wish I didn’t promise to join friends when I’m invited to do something incredible & life-changing, or just invited do something wonderfully everyday, like going to the shops and laughing at silly things. Or being asked to travel the globe and feel the sand between my toes… because at that very point they asked me to join them, I knew I had already broken my promise before I even said yes; because as naïve as I am, I always believed there was hope, and I might be strong enough/well enough to make it, maybe next week or in a month or two. In reality, that’s rarely the case. Hope now seems more akin to a malevolent entity, or a cruel mistress. Now, joyful excitement feels too much like fear.

There’s more, so much more I could say. However, I can’t; doing so, in my naked and raw truth, and to completely lay oneself bare, is an impossibly. In doing so, I would alienate the few friends I have left, because nobody wants to hear that, and really, no one should. So I censor my self-pitying self and psyche, so not to rock the boat, to keep things nice and neat and sterile and reliable, as its always been. Heaven forbid I might appear a weirdo, a freak, a depressing force that will only drag you down. I can’t post certain ‘arty’ photos I take, because some find them uncomfortable and read too much into them… and then ask me if I feel suicidal, which I do not. If art provokes an emotional response, even if that response makes one uncomfortable, doesn’t that mean the art is doing its job? Anyway, isn’t that a little irrelevant? Think about it.

There’s very little left of me these days – even I miss the old me. I’m dying on the inside, and I’m so desperate to live again. Despite my all the shattered pieces and shards of razor sharp glass strewn at my feet, I still have so much love to give, and to give freely, unconditionally. This existence has to stop. My worry is that there might only be a handful of straws left, and my back might already be too weak…

Invisible Diseases Series: Contributors Wanted

Posted from: Vale of Glamorgan CF64, UK
Yes, I have an invisible disease. Well, several actually…

Many readers of my blog may not realise that I have lived with a condition for over 10 years called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or CFS). It is more commonly called Myalgic Encephalopathy (or ME) in the UK. I was diagnosed with CFS in 2002 after contracting the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and then developing Chronic Mononucleosis that lasted for an exhausting 6 months or more.

I want to start an ‘Invisible Diseases’ Series, and would love to invite you to share your experiences here, on this very blog. If you have CFS/ME, Fibromyalgia, POTS, Lyme Disease or any other invisible disease (see Dr. Dolan’s FAQ’s below), I would love for you to be a featured contributor. You can email your article or story to rycariad@gmail.com for publication to www.rycariad.co.uk

I can’t wait to hear from you. In the meantime, I’m going to be brave and share my story for the first time very soon…


Further reading:
Dr. Franky Dolan’s FAQ’s:
www.invisiblediseases.com/FAQ.html

Other useful information:
www.findfranky.com
www.actionforme.org.uk
www.meassociation.org.uk
www.foggyfriends.org

Submit your own link to:
rycariad@gmail.com

On Depression & Getting Help by Rob Delaney

The passing of Andrew Koenig prompted me to write this, but it’s something that will apply to plenty of people.

I have dealt with suicidal, unipolar depression and I take medication daily to treat it. Over the past seven years, I’ve had two episodes that were severe and during which I thought almost exclusively of suicide. I did not eat much and lost weight during these episodes. I couldn’t sleep at all, didn’t even think about sex, and had constant diarrhea. My mind played one thought over and over, which was “Kill yourself.” It was also accompanied by a constant, thrumming pain that I felt through my whole body. I describe the physical symptoms because it helps to understand that real depression isn’t just a “mood.” These two episodes were the most difficult experiences of my life, by a wide margin, and I did not know if I would make it through them. To illustrate how horrible it was, being in jail in a wheelchair with four broken limbs after the car accident that prompted me to get sober eight years ago was much, much easier and less painful. That isn’t an exxageration and I hope it helps people understand clinical depression better. I’m saying that I would rather be in jail in a wheelchair with a body that doesn’t work than experience a severe episode of depression.To clarify the timeline, I got sober eight years ago and my first episode of depression was seven years ago. I had been in talk-therapy with a psychologist for months and was getting used to life without booze. It’s my understanding that it’s not terribly rare for someone in early sobriety to get depressed. I started to exhibit the symptoms I described above and had no idea what was happening. My psychologist urged me to see a psychiatrist, as did my family, among whom alcoholism and depression are old pals, so to speak. Everyone wanted me to go on medication, except me. I felt that it would be “weak” to do so and that I could soldier through and get a handle on it. But everything got worse and it was terrifying. Most of my thoughts were telling me to kill myself and I began fantasizing constantly about suicide. The images of my head being blown apart by a shotgun blast or me swimming out into the ocean until I got tired and drowned played over and over in my head. My whole body hurt, all the time.
Fortunately, a tiny part of me recognized my thought process as “crazy.” I knew that if anyone other than me was describing these symptoms I would lovingly handcuff them and take them to the hospital and help the shit out of them, whether they liked it or not. So I tried very hard to step out of myself and look at the situation with a modicum of objectivity and “imagine” that I was someone who deserved help.
Quite literally I thought, “I don’t think anyone else would shoot me with a shotgun, so maybe, temporarily, I’ll postpone that and try this Lexapro that everyone who knows me is recommending.” It worked. It wasn’t magical, but it addressed some chemical issues in my brain that allowed me, gradually, to feel better and actually experience my life. I ate again, slept again, got boners when I encounted attractive women, and made normal number twos when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t and don’t feel euphoric all the time or anything. I still get angry, sad, and afraid sometimes. But I also get happy, excited, and horny too. I experience the full range of human emotions, rather than just one horrible one.
Just under eighteen months ago, after a couple of years of both my marriage and my decision to pursue comedy full-time, I experimented with a lower dose of medication and had another episode. It was as bad or worse than the first one, but thankfully I had some idea of how to deal with it. This episode drove home the knowledge that, like alchoholism, depression demands respect and attention. Whether it’s a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, I cannot pretend to know, but it exists and it can kill you dead.
My psychiatrist adjusted my dose and I got feeling better over time. If you know me personally, all this information may surprise you, as I think I generally have a pretty sunny demeanor. For most of my life, I’ve been a happy, optimistic guy. But for whatever reason, I’ve had depression of a serious, life-threatening nature rear its head a couple of times.

The sole reason I’ve written this is so that someone who is depressed or knows someone who is depressed might see it. While great strides have been made in mental health over the years, certain stigmas still exist. I strongly resisted medication at first. But after having been through depression and having had the wonderful good fortune to help a couple of people who’ve been through it, I will say that as hard as it is, IT CAN BE SURVIVED. And after the stabilization process, which can be and often is fucking terrifying, a HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don’t think. Get help.Reprinted with permission of the author ~ 
© Rob Delaney 2010
http://robdelaney.tumblr.com/mobile/post/414007899

Image © Ryan Price 2010 (self portrait)

Depression – The Deepest Dark Hole – To The Depressed, From The Depressed

Posted from: LE2 0JE, UK

It is normal to feel periods of being ‘down in the dumps’ that last for a short time. Normal life events can cause these to happen. For example, when someone dies or you lose a job.

Clinical depression, on the other hand, is another event, in itself. It does not only last a week or two but is a deep dark hole, a lonely abyss, a black dog (as Churchill once said) that seems impossible to escape from. It is a dangerous medical condition that is caused by an imbalance in the chemicals of your brain. If it is not treated properly it can completely disrupt a persons life and sometimes leads to suicide.

Warning signs that depression has taken hold include being unmotivated, tired all the time and a flat feeling. As the depression becomes worse a person might not even want to be part of social activities that they once enjoyed. Sometimes they feel very lonely and alone, and often become reclusive. When depression becomes really deep a person might completely lose the will to work and have trouble with relationships. They tend to curl up in a safe house and want to not be bothered by anyone. The desire to live a happy and productive life can disappear, altogether.

There are ways to treat depression even when there seems to be no hope left. The first thing that needs to be done is to set up an appointment with the your GP, Nurse, private doctor or psychologist. They will ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting your everyday life. Depression carries symptoms that are common in other medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. This is a big reason why you need to see your doctor regardless of whether you think it is depression or not. If the doctor thinks you are dealing with depression then you might be referred to a specialist for more precise care.

Never get scared about starting medication such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or even anti-psychotics – they can turn out to be that one little thing that brings you life again. Also, don’t give up if your medication doesn’t seem to be helping. It might just mean you’re on the wrong dose or a less-suited drug. See your doctor as soon as you can and discuss your thoughts with him.

Depression is most often caused by poor genes. If you know someone in your family that has suffered with it then the chances of you becoming depressed are greatly multiplied. Brain chemistry is also a big cause of depression.

Major stressful events in life can lead to depression, as well. Trauma to a child and poor parenting techniques or traumatic experiences at school (for example) can also make depression more likely to popup in adulthood.

Some natural remedies can work really well for treating depression without the side effects of conventional medicines. With caution, St. John’s Wort can be a really effective natural method of treating depression; but be careful with this – if you are on any medication, such as antidepressants, talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist first. Passiflora Incarnata has properties that are similar to a tranquilizer and can also be used to combat depression with anxiety. Relaxation techniques can be useful in fighting off depression especially when the cause is anxiety.

Talk with your doctor about some of the many options you have.

Just do not sit idly by and let your life melt away. How do I know? Because I’m a living and unashamed testament of depression survival. Contact me if you want to find out more, or if you would just like a chat, leave a comment below…

How to be Alone

Posted from: LE2 0JE, UKIf you are at first lonely, be patient. If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were you were not okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find its fine to be alone once you’re embracing it. We can start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library, where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books, your not suppose to talk much anyway so its safe there. There is also the gym, if your shy, you can hang out with yourself and mirrors, you can put headphones in. There’s public transportation, we all gotta go places. And there’s prayer and mediation, no one will think less if your hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation. Start simple. Things you may have previously avoided based on avoid being principles. The lunch counter, where you will be surrounded by “chow downers”, employees who only have an hour and their spouse work across town, and they, like you, will be alone. Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone. When you are comfortable with “eat lunch and run”, take yourself out to dinner to a restaurant with linen and silver wear. You’re no less an intriguing a person when you are eating solo desert and cleaning the whip cream from the dish with your finger. In fact, some people at full tables will wish they were where you were. Go to the movies. Where it’s dark and soothing, alone in your seat amidst fleeting community. And then take yourself out dancing, to a club where no one knows you, stand on the outside of the floor until the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no ones watching because they are probably not. And if they are, assume it is with best human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely move to beats, after-all, is gorgeous and affecting. Dance till you’re sweating. And beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things, down your back, like a brook of blessings. Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you. Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, they are always statues to talk to, and benches made for sitting gives strangers a shared existence if only for a minute, these moments can be so uplifting and the conversation you get in by sitting alone on benches, might of never happened had you not been there by yourself. Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if after awhile no one is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it. You can stand swaffed by groups and mobs and hands with your partner, look both further and farther in the endless quest for company. But no one is in your head. And by the time you translate your thoughts an essence of them maybe lost or perhaps it is just kept. Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from pre-school over to high school groaning, we’re tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cause if you’re happy in your head, and solitude is blessed, and alone is okay, Its okay if no one believes like you, all experiences unique, no one has the same synapses can’t think like you, this keeps things interesting, life’s magic brings much, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t connected, the community is not present, just take back to you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it, if you have an art that needs practice stop neglecting it, if your family doesn’t get you or a religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it. You could me in an instant surrounded if you need it, if your heart is bleeding, make the best of it, there is heat and freezing. be a testament.