Friday, 15 June 2018

John Henry Trustrum 1937 -2006

It would have been my Dads birthday today. It falls around Fathers Day every year so it’s a bit of a double whammy. I have been thinking about him a lot today so wanted to do a post about him and maybe write a bit about what it’s like to lose someone. Actually, forget that, I didn’t lose him. He died.

Having to give permission to turn of my Dads machine’s in intensive care is something I hope no one has to go through but unfortunately I know that some people will. I had gone from ‘about to go a work party’ to ‘saying goodbye’ to my Dad in 12 hours. Then afterwards collecting his belongings from the Hospital (he had a new suitcase packed, he’d only gone in for an operation, he didn’t know he was going to die), signing a death certificate, dealing with a will, getting a funeral together (thank you Auntie Margaret), choosing the music and readings and all those other practical things you have no idea about. Then later scattering the ashes, then even later still finding out that after a certain length of time the plaque you placed at the Crematorium has to be removed to make way for someone else. It feels very brutal but sadly it’s another part of the process that you would never even think about.

So this year, Spring I got sent the brass plaque my brothers and I had arranged for my Dads ‘place’ at the Crematorium.  I couldn’t even remember what we had chosen to be written on it. But it had been 10 years since I scattered his ashes and it was time for the plaque to be either destroyed or kept by a family member. Of course I couldn’t allow it to be destroyed even though I had only been to the crematorium twice since he died. Once at the funeral in October 2006 and once to scatter the ashes a year later. (I’d put it off as I couldn’t bear the thought of it,  but he couldn’t stay in a plastic jar forever).  So I asked for the plaque to be sent to me.

The plaque that had been next to a rose bush in Upminster since 2006 ‘ In Loving Memory, John Henry Trustrum, 1937 – 2006, Our Dearest Dad & Friend’, for 10 years was now in my house. I can’t deny it, that was another strange experience. But in a way quite comforting. 

Then in April this year my older brother was coming over from Sydney to stay so I thought it would be the right time to get the plaque on a wooden mount that we could plant with something in my garden. My older brother, his daughter from Sweden, my younger brother and his family from Essex and my Mum from Norwich  (which was bonkers in itself) were all going to be here for lunch. But the thing about the plaque is that it arrived on it’s own. A piece of brass. No wooden stake to poke in the ground. And this is where the fun really starts.

One evening we were watching a Mel Brook’s documentary at home, my Dad loved Mel Brooks, we loved watching ‘Blazing Saddles’, and it prompted me to order a wooden stake online for the plaque for my brother’s arrival. I think it was a message from beyond the ashes to give me a swift kick up the arse. So I googled somewhere that did this kind of thing, again nothing I’d ever had to do before, measured the plaque and ordered the stake. I forgot about it until 2 days before my ‘family lunch / plaque planting session’ and realised the wooden mount still hadn’t arrived. I checked my emails and saw that the stake was not due to be despatched until 3 days after my brother had gone back to Sydney! So in a panic we cobbled one together out of some wood from B+Q and hoped for a sunny day.

Obviously, in true Trustrum style, it rained and rained and rained on the day of the lunch so after all my anxiety we left ‘my Dad’ propped up in the corner of the kitchen while we stood around snorting Doritos and downing Aldi Wine. Then about two weeks later the sun came out so I rushed outside alone and stuck him next to a young Magnolia tree planted buy the previous occupants.
But still the original, bespoke stake had not arrived. I contacted the Company and said it wasn’t here, and actually don’t worry about it as the moment had passed, I’ll just have a refund thank you very much. The stake Company apologised but said that as I hadn’t said anything sooner they could not refund me and would send the stake anyway. I said again, I didn’t want it, it was an emotional situation I’d rather move on from but they didn’t care. They would claim compensation from the courier company but would not cancel my order. Worst customer service ever. Then a month later, the stake arrived and is in my cupboard so if anyone needs one, let me know!

But now, with the plaque in my garden I feel like my Dad is home, which is stupid because this was never his home, it barely feels like my home, and his ashes are long gone in Upminster but it’s quite a nice feeling knowing now if I want to feel close to him, he is outside. I have in the last few weeks sat on the grass near the plaque and tonight, for his birthday I sat with him and had a glass of cheap Tesco Wine and a rollie. It’s what he would have wanted.

The thing about someone dying is that you do learn to live with it. I would never say you recover from it and you are certainly never the same person after going through an experience like that, but you do come to terms with a different life, over time. No one ever said this to me but, for me, it has been the case. I never said goodbye to my Dad, I never told him I was sorry for whatever I did to piss him off my whole life and I never got to tell him I understood how hard being a parent is, but he did teach me something in that hospital room at St Bart’s. I realised how precious time is. The greatest lesson he ever taught me.  When you realise that time has gone and you can’t get it back that is a hard lesson. No amount of money can buy you time or turn back the clock. No amount of jobs or bonuses or late nights in the office trying to get the approval of your boss. You need to live NOW.  I know that for my sanity and for my relationship with my son, we need to spend time together which is why in the last few years I have chosen him over my career, so maybe I am a better parent because of the relationship I had with my Dad. I have to take something from what happened and if that’s what it is, then that’s enough. I have never been confident about anything  in my life but I think, so far, I can say I’m a good Mum, which I think means he was a good Dad. 

So Happy birthday JT, under the Magnolia.  Sorry about the plaque cock up. xx

Saturday, 3 February 2018


After 4 months in over priced storage, my boxes of books have finally been freed and I've been unpacking them today. Our current house is a quarter of the size of the old one so while I miss the space of our old house there was a terrible tendency to never get rid of anything. We didn’t need to be particularly selective about what we brought into the house as there was always room. We didn’t need to worry about the ‘one in, one out’ rule.  So, when we moved out in October it was a real eye opener about how much stuff we had accumulated in 5 years. Not to mention all the crap the previous owner had left us... I don’t think I had got rid of a single item of my sons’ clothing or toy, not even the free ones you get on Kids Magazines. Cooking utensils were another shocker, the twice used Spiraliser, the never used Cookie Cutters our neighbours used to buy for our son, the huge industrial sized Raymond Blanc saucepan set I’d got from a shoot. Also, never used. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Because the move came about out of the blue and happened in a relatively short space of time, there was no time to be sentimental. Everyday I was taking a least one trip to the Charity Shop with bagfuls of things. Things I knew we wouldn’t be able to take with us. Part of me felt sad that my life was so out of my control that I didn’t even have time to decide what I might want to keep, but another part of me felt liberated that actually, it just had to go. It made me feel a bit lighter.

But books. are a hard thing to part with. Predominantly because a lot of the books I have belonged to my Dad. My two brothers are not really the sentimental types and did not want to keep any of my Dads’ books when he passed away. They kept photographs and a few choice knick knacks, nothing more. But I could not let the books go. They are of no monetary value but have huge sentimental value to me. For example, my Dads Childhood Sports annuals are full of newspaper clippings about Sport event’s that were happening at the time. 

Then his books from when he was older are full of scribbles and underlined with quotes he must have liked.

From 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist'

From 'Down and Out in Paris and London'

Written in the back of a book. 
No idea if he copied this from something or wrote it himself.

They are like Diaries in a way, with these notes and scraps of paper in them. And while they wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, they mean something to me, and maybe will to my son one day. (That’s another justification for me to keep them). The Grandson and Grandfather who never met. They help me understand a little more, the person who kept a roof over my head but also the person who kept himself very distant from me.  Some of the books are great, classic books, ‘Animal Farm’,  ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘The Works of Oscar Wild’, ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. But others are a bit more eclectic. ‘Venus in Furs’, Several Erich Von Daniken books about Spacemen visiting Earth, a book about Aleister Crowley, poetry books.

Since getting the books home and unpacking them, we still don’t have enough space. So more of my books are going. Books I’ve enjoyed but books I know I’ll never read again ‘Angela’s Ashes’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘A Boy Called It’, but again, there are some books I simply can’t part with. Particularly my Douglas Copeland books. I was happy to let ‘Microserfs’ go, but not the others.  ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ is my favorite book and the one I’ve re-read the most. My friend Tracey bought it for my birthday. I’d never heard of him before but soon found myself devouring his books. ‘Miss Wyoming”, ‘Generation x’, ‘All Families are Psychotic’ ‘Hey Nostradamus’.  I used to pass ‘Books Etc’ on my way home from work which didn’t help my book addiction. 

And, as I’ve been looking through my books again I’ve noticed all my underlings and scribbles.

From 'Generation X'

From ' High Fidelity'.

From 'Black Hole Focus'.

And while I understand that we are all supposed to be de-cluttering for a simpler, happier existence I just can't get rid of these. Reading a book that belonged to someone else not only gives you a little bit of insight into what interested that person at a particular time in their life (like music) but you never know what else you might find among the pages. I hope that when my son gets older he will enjoy books, and our family books. I love having books around the place, it's good for my son in a world that is increasingly screen focused. My books might give him an insight to his relations and in turn maybe help him understand himself a bit better. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. And with that I will leave you with my favourite Douglas Copeland quotes:

Thursday, 14 December 2017

"The days are long but the years are short" Gretchen Rubin

Ever since my son was born, I have been writing to him. Birthday and Christmas cards, letters about his milestones, lists of music I like, random scribbles in my notebooks on the commute home about places he mights like to visit, drunken musings on life while waiting for friends to arrive at the pub, bad jokes, all sorts of things. The box is bulging, but he has never read any of them. Not just because he has only recently been able to read but mainly as they are all sealed in envelopes, tied up with a spotty ribbon and placed in a wooden box for him when he is 18. When I started writing them 5 and a half years ago, his 18th birthday seemed like a long way away but now it seems frighteningly close, like it will be just around the corner...

When he was a baby and I was at home with him alone mostly, in a new town, with no friends, the days would drag on and on. The never ending guesswork of what this tiny human needed was exhausting. I felt like I had been taken off one planet and put on another, completely alien one. The only thing I could be sure of in those early days was another day tomorrow with more guesswork and isolation. When you become a parent, it's easy to forget who you were before your baby is born, so my letters to him not only marked his new skills (first words, favourite foods etc etc) they also became a way for me to remember who I was in my previous life. What bands did I like? Where had I travelled to? What books and films did I enjoy? Even the most mundane memories became something to write down for him, for another day, while we could only communicate to each other in cuddles and whinges (both of us).  Ultimately, as he gets older, I want him to really know me as a human, not just as his Mother, as it may help him understand where he has come from and maybe even why he is like he is. On the other hand, he might think it's a shit 18th present and want cash, but at least I tried.

Another reason I wanted to write to him, and not to sound morbid, is the fact that we just don't know how much time we have. In an ideal world I could have another 40 years of being in sound mind to tell him all my debauched tales myself, but frankly, I don't want to hedge my bets. I properly became aware of time when my father passed away 6 years prior to my sons birth and always think about my Dad at this time of year. We spent every Christmas day together my whole life. 36 Christmases. At home growing up, later on at boyfriends houses, at my best friends' house when he got lost and turned up almost on Boxing Day.  Mostly they were incredibly stressful days. We had a very difficult relationship, my Dad and me, and he died suddenly during a period where we had not spoken for 5 months. A fairly routine operation went wrong. I had heard he was poorly 7 days before but had 'no time' to even call him. I was busy on a shoot and thought I could see him the following weekend. The next thing I heard was when my little brother called me from St Bart's Hospital to say our Dad was on life support. After the quickest 14 hours of my life spent next to my dying Father I had to give permission to turn the machines off. And that was that. With a few switches he was gone. Time, what a bastard. But the thing about my Dad, was that he also wrote letters. Letter's to his 2 eldest children. My older brother and I (my little brother was thankfully spared all of it). Spiteful, vindictive letters outing our faults and laying down the rules. We had used too much toilet paper so had to buy our own, suddenly I was forbidden to watch the small crackly black and white telly with my brother in his room, we were not allowed to sit on the sofa in the summer in our shorts, as soon as we both turned 16 we had to pay rent. Mean stuff like that. I never kept my letters but believe my older brother has and if anyone ever read them now they would most likely call Social Services. I'm sure he loved us but if all we had to look at after his death were those letters you would absolutely question it. BUT, for all his faults and idiosyncrasies he did have good qualities and he did have a life before us which I learnt a lot more about after he died.

For example, I knew he had been evacuated during WWII, but when he died and I accumulated the majority of his belongings, I read the letters from the man who had taken him in and the correspondence they had over the following decades I read all the funny letters he had sent my Grandparents when he was doing his National Service in the 1950's. I have his postcard collection from his travels as a young man and love letters from a Scandinavian Girlfriend. My Dad was a different person before he got lumbered with 3 young children and looking back I wish I had really known this other person. We would probably have been better friends and maybe it would have explained some of his behaviour. Reading all of these letters helped me get to know by Dad better. I'm glad I have these letters as over time, it helps to erase the rotten memories of the letters he wrote to me. Even after all his harsh treatment, I wish he was still here now, so he could meet his Grandchildren and maybe he would enjoy them more than he did his own kids. I would do anything to have one more annoying Christmas with him despite it all.

But we rarely think of our parents as ever being young, or being remotely 'cool', and it's unlikely we know what they thought about when they were experiencing parenthood for the first time. If you are lucky, you might get to ask those questions but if you do ask, will they even remember! Probably not in great detail. And maybe if you knew more about your parents before you, you might understand them a bit more. You also might understand yourself a bit better which can only be a good thing.

Our children are growing up in an alien landscape, it's a completely different world to ours, or mine anyway, having been born in 1975 (don't tell my son, I've said I'm 21...), and how we communicate is totally different. We rarely send cards or letters these days, we are all 'too busy', and physical correspondence seems to be a thing of the past. There is nothing to keep in a box, to look through when you are feeling sentimental. How sad! This time of year reminds me of this even more. In the past, I would have sent my Christmas cards out on 1st December, and obviously sent one to my Dad, but this year, so far I have only written one. To my son, yesterday.

So, if you write any cards this Christmas, make sure you at least do it to your loved ones, and if you have children, write a special one for them. You never know how precious this rare document might be in years to come when they are all rushing around their hover boards eating space food. Happy Christmas xx

Thursday, 23 November 2017

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened" Mark Twain

I thought I'd post a bit more about CBT, partly because I found it a very positive experience but mainly because, according to the statistics on this site, my last 2 posts have had the most hits in the shortest space of time of any of my other posts since I started this blog. (And that is without me sharing the links on Twitter).

I've also had lots more messages this week from people who I haven't spoken to / heard from in a while, most using the word 'resonated' in their messages. I'll be honest, I had to look the word up but I understand that my talking about the last few months has been useful to some people which makes me feel it was worthwhile to share it.

In my sessions with the Therapist we talked a lot about 'Worry + Rumination', which seemed to be at the root of my problems. (Remember, I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder not Depression so this post may not be as useful if you are suffering from Depression). When I think about it now, it does seem rather frightening to go from 'worrying', which we all do, to the point where the worrying becomes to intense you need medical intervention, but that just goes to show how things can escalate if you don't address what is going on in your life / don't acknowledge any physical symptoms you know are unusual for you. If you feel things are getting out of control DON'T WAIT.

In my experience, the act of worrying became overwhelming. The act of worrying about certain things, became so intense it manifested itself in physical symptoms. (Insomnia, chest pains, feeling like a cold wire was running through me, shaking). The act of of worrying about specific things gradually became an act of worrying about EVERYTHING. Looking back, things intensified when my son started school last September and I had to give up Freelancing.  It's impossible to get Ad Hoc childcare when you have no family help and after exploring the few options on the table I had to admit defeat and stop working. I felt like perhaps it was a natural break and time to just be 'Mummy'. But this then meant, I had more time to worry.  Worrying about having no purpose (I have worked since I was 13 and funded everything in my life on my own, University, homes etc), worrying about relying on my other half, worrying about money, worrying about if I had made the right decisions in life etc etc. I have since realised I was trying to distract myself from my worry's by an almost manic need to be 'busy'. I was helping with the reading at my sons school, making things to sell in the Local Art Gallery, selling honey, I also got a local job at one point. But when in March we had to sell the house, my worries exploded in my head. It is exhausting never being able to escape your own head. I had not slept properly for months, I was probably drinking too much and generally felt like shit. Sleep deprivation is not only a pain in the arse, it can also be massively detrimental to your health.

The information below is taken from 

* Our central nervous system is the information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, but chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body usually sends information.* During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise decision-making processes and creativity.If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations
seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people who have manic depressionOther psychological risks include:
*Impulsive behaviour
*Suicidal thoughts

You may also end up experiencing microsleep in the day. During these episodes, you’ll fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes without realizing it. Microsleep is out of your control and can be extremely dangerous if you’re driving. 

Immune system - Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders. It may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Digestive system - Along with eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obesity. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flux of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in night. A lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain by making you feel too tired to exercise.
Sleep deprivation also prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat. Insulin controls your blood sugar level. Higher insulin levels promote fat storage and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.Cardiovascular system - Sleep affects processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, including your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. It also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair the blood vessels and heart.People who don’t sleep enough are more likely to get cardiovascular disease. One analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Oncology linked insomnia to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Pretty scary how things can escalate isn't it? You can see how you one could quite easily get caught in a vicious cycle of ill health. Worry begins, then continues to increase gradually and is not dealt with, sleep then becomes affected, so you drink more Caffeine to deal with the sleep deprivation which in turn increases your anxiety, which in turn makes the worrying intensify, then you use alcohol to knock yourself out at the end of the day, then you simply stop functioning and you are ill, physically and mentally. The crutches you use to get you though the days only exacerbate the problem. Excessive use of Caffeine and Tobacco can make existing Anxiety worse. BUT, when I started CBT and looked at things from a different viewpoint, I saw very clearly how I had got into the state I was, and understanding it and accepting it was the first step towards getting better. CBT gave me hope things would improve and I understood that basically I needed to break the negative habits I had developed.  But you have to work at it. There's lots of repetition in CBT and homework and it will only work if you commit to it. It's by no means a quick fix but more like an alternative way of life. If I had recognised my worrying and ruminating was getting out of hand sooner I wouldn't have felt as bad as I ended up feeling. (There was a long waiting list to get to the one to one Therapy though. I think it took around 6 months before I had my first one to one session so don't want to leave it too long). 
You get lots of paperwork and exercises in CBT, some of it I just didn't get at all so didn't even bother with. I particularly struggled with the idea of  'Worry Time'. You are supposed to allocate a specific time of each day dedicated to worrying. When a worry pops into your head, you must write it down and then not think about it again until your allocated worry time. My Anxiety was so bad even the thought of this made me anxious. I said if I was going to allocate a certain time to worry I would worry that I would miss the time slot or just be worrying until worry time! The Therapist didn't push this particular exercise on me...
What I did find useful though was the idea of the 'Worry Tree' :

When a worry comes into your head, work your way down from the top of tree. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to let things go. You are not only challenging your automatic thought responses to situations (real or imagined) but you are gradually, over time, breaking the negative habits that are so detrimental to your well being. It's such a simple excerise but one I have found invaluable.

There are loads of free resources on line for all of this, but I also found this useful as a way of acknowledging my situation:

* Worry is future focused. It can lead to anxiety, stress, fear and imagining the worst will happen.
* Rumination is past focused. It can lead to depression, sadness, shame and regret, "If only...".

* These 2 things can develop into regurgitation. Constantly chewing things over, repeatedly thinking the same things, circular thinking patterns, bad thinking HABITS.

* By worrying or ruminating we are trying to reduce the distress but we make the problem bigger and often prolong it. It interferes with clear thinking, daily activity and our ability to cope. It also often leads to unhelpful behaviours to help us escape our thoughts (self harm, drinking, drugs, comfort eating etc). The more we worry or ruminate the stronger the habit becomes (so conversely the less we worry or ruminate the weaker the habit becomes).

* You CAN change this pattern. If you notice the mind is going down a worry / rumination route. Tell yourself:

1. I don't have to think about that right now, it can wait until I feel stronger.
2. There is nothing I can do about my thoughts - I can't stop them BUT I can choose not to focus on them.
3. What can I do right now that will hep me feel better? (refer to the 'Worry Tre'e, call a friend, go for a walk etc etc)
4. Right now what can I do that will take me one step in the right direction? Right now, not the future.

 Anyway, thanks for reading (if you got this far!), I hope this might be useful. Stay well and for anyone who see's themselves in this post, it will get better if you ask for help. xx

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

It's not me, it's you.

Something else I thought was quite interesting about my recent experience of Mental Health care, was the idea that not all experiences with Mental Health challenges / issue' are clinical. The umbrella term of 'Mental Health' seems to cover a vast amount of psychological states. The one I was most aware of was 'Depression', and I was also aware of the trauma of 'Psychotic Episodes' but I didn't realise that what I was diagnosed with was also considered part of the Mental Health Family. Anxiety.

My last post mentioned what physical symptoms I was having and how I was treated on the NHS but probably the most interesting thing I learnt about what I was experiencing, was that it wasn't considered Depression (which I had naturally assumed it was, based on previous diagnosis but which looking back was probably wrong...). Once I had begun the process of CBT and started completing the weekly telephone assessments with a Therapist, it became very clear that my problem was with Anxiety, my scores for Depression were actually quite low in comparison.  It transpired that I had been living through such a prolonged period of stress and unpredictability it had eventually led to excessive Anxiety, which in turn was causing me to struggle to function in a way I needed to indeed and wanted to. This was then expanded on further with my first one to one with the Therapist when she said to me, "You need to consider that your issues are not clinical, but inter personal". WOW. What en eye opener! I didn't even know this was a 'thing'! (Coincidentally, last week on Radio 2 there was an interview with a Dr who has just published a book about Toxic People and how they can affect your life and ultimately your health. Not all psychological states dealt with by Mental Health Teams are clinical. Anyway, I just thought it was really interesting and something I had never considered before but is obviously prevalent. "You know what, it's not me, its you".)

So now the conversation had started, the can of worms was open and it needed to be. When I really looked back at my previous brushes with Mental Health care, it made complete sense. Growing up, my home life had been so traumatic and unpredictable from the age of 8, that at 14, I snapped. Then later on in life, after 9 months of being dismissed and disregarded at work by someone who I had considered a friend, I broke down. And this year, after a prolonged period of instability and stress at home, again, I hit the bottom. So, you can see the pattern. These are not instances driven to despair by unknown forces, these are instances due to my relationships with other people and the way that I react to them. By my parents as a child (where, as a minor, there was no escape), by my Boss at work (where I was trying to establish a career and a better life for myself), in my house (where I was trying to keep my family together and provide the kind of life I didn't have for my son). Reading this, it might seem obvious that a person would be pushed to their limits after these experiences but each time anything has happened where I have been forced to knock on the door of the NHS, I have felt / believed /was told that I had something frightening wrong with me. Some chemicals lacking, a deep dark depression lurking inside my head or some permanent unsolvable 'problem' that was destined to rear its ugly head every few years. HOWEVER, the possibility that my difficulties were 'inter personal' changed everything for me. It made me think about myself totally differently which was the start of my way out of the hole. It was the challenge to these automatic thoughts that I had had my whole life, and the realisation that there are other ways of looking at the same situation (basically CBT) that helped me get to where I wanted to be.  I wasn't a failure that attracted shitty situations, I am actually quite resilient for getting through them. Its true that when you are at the bottom the only way is up and that is exactly how I feel now. I am on the up, looking at the past, present and future of my life thorough completely different eyes. Just being aware of this different, alternative view is all down to CBT. I would never have looked at myself / my life this way before.

You would lead a very charmed existence if you never found yourself in a difficult / upsetting / stressful situation throughout your life. That's just how it is and sometimes it can just be really shit. But what you need to consider is your own limitations when dealing with these experiences. There might be quite a few people reading this, currently feeling anxious about work, or stressed about a situation with a friend or family member but not confronting the problem. Slowly isolating yourself from friends as you feel you never have anything good to say (that was me). Maybe you don't want to rock the boat, or you are so used to treading on egg shells that is now your norm (also me), but believe me, if you don't deal with these things, you can make yourself ill and end up spending a large amount of time with the Mental Health Team. The 'issue' might not be you, it might be someone else or at least the way you react to them, and if you get ill because of the way someone else treats you / your perception of how they treat you, as well as the mountains you have to climb to get better again you might also feel somewhat angry and rather fucking resentful that no one had ever told you it was possible for other people (family, work colleagues etc) to have such a negative effect on you!!! Hence this post.

Mental illness is such a massive subject, and as I said before, I've not studied it but I know how I have felt, and I know what helped me get better and I know what I need to hopefully stay on the straight and narrow. And if life gets shitty again, it might not be due to some darkness within me. It might just be that I am in the wrong place, with the wrong people. I now understand the effect other people have on me, not just the tricky people but also the good people. Isolating myself from my friends when I needed them most wasn't the right thing to do at all. If you feel scared and alone, physically being on your own ain't going to help you! Spend time with people that make you feel GOOD. If work is making you stressed, could you do something else? What is so special about your job that it's more important than your health? How can you simplify your life?  TALK, be honest and open, get angry if you need to, but don't keep it in or think it's your problem, because it might just not be.