Yesterday, 2 years on from when I first went to the doctors seeking help for my depression, I had my first ever, long awaited counselling session. Having felt in a slow, downward spiral for a while it’s come at a good time. Occasionally I go through brief periods of guilt and feeling like I’m wasting people’s time with my depression, that I just simply need to get my shit together and stop bothering people who would be best off helping those in more need than myself. It’s been several months since I stopped my CBT sessions and received any form of medical help for my mental illnesses, and it really felt like the cracks were beginning to show.
Whilst for many Christmas is a period of rest and relaxation, for me it meant 3 weeks off work and it was something I had been dreading for a while. For better or worse I have allowed work to become my escape, a distraction from the dark places my mind goes when it’s to being kept busy with something else. The results are 12 hour days, 200+ hours overtime and me feeling like an overbearing mother leaving their child behind for the first time. I was under strict instructions to rest, take care of myself and to make a plan to keep my mind busy with things that weren’t work related. In the end I ran another marathon, obviously, and failed to really do anything, so whether or not that was a success is open for debate.
In the past few weeks my head has been very much ‘gone’, coinciding with a return to work where I’ve struggled to get my focus back and generally dealing with the anxiety of it being a new year and the pressures that come with that. I can take not feeling 100% with it some days, or even most days, but I’d like to at least feel more than 50% and not just floating around in a strange bubble.
A long, 7 weeks on from the bizarre shambles that was my IAPT session back at the beginning of December last week I finally mustered the energy to get to the doctors and to try and find out what happened. When I got there they told me they couldn’t tell me anything, so I assumed that at the very least I hadn’t been discharged. Next up was a case of ringing the service I was supposed to be having the session with. When I did I was told that I wasn’t on their system, thankfully I soon realised I had given the wrong town name and sheepishly hung up. Eventually I got through to the right place and before explaining the situation I was reassured I was on the waiting list. When I asked for an explanation on the phantom session they were unable to provide one.
After spending most of the past two months since that fateful evening worrying about what exactly happened to that session, had I gone to the wrong place, had it been cancelled or would I be being discharged back to my GP? It was a relief to have some kind of answer. Sure enough just a couple of days later I arrived home to a letter with my first appointment on. It was frustrating that I had built the situation up so much that it took me so long to deal with it, only for it to have resolved itself a couple of days later, but all that mattered was that I finally had this first therapy session and am able to the next step on the path to some form of effective treatment
As I laid down to bed on Monday I made the mistake of glancing at my phone to see a shitty email come across and like a switch, the insomnia returned. Every. Single. Hour. I woke up, looked up at the clock, took an ever increasingly exasperated sigh and rolled back over. After the first couple of times I knew my night’s sleep was fucked and that I had to deal with the frustration of waking up a couple more times before it was actually time to get up. I didn’t even need to check to know that the insomnias’s partner in crime returned at the same time, a gentle blow of my nose revealed it had been bleeding in the night. It all felt depressingly familiar, and it was a glimpse back to a less-sleepy, more-nosebleedy time of my life, a time I wasn’t prepared to go back to. I threw the double denim on and left all the fucks I could give at home.
Knowing that my first therapy session was looming I spent the past few days openly trying to make sense of the thoughts and emotions, or sometimes complete lack of, that have been flying around in my head. An attempt to warm my brain up, before giving it over to a professional to have a poke around in. At the very least it got me used to the idea of talking about what’s going on inside my head face-to-face, a chance to think out loud and attempt to rationalise things.
I went into the first session completely blind, I didn’t know how long it would be, how many I’d get and whether or not I’d be filling out questionnaires the entire time. Thankfully it was not the case, whilst there was still a piece of paper to fill out, it was done at the end of the hour-long session. The first hour flew by, having worried about the sessions not being long enough, I found that at times I was struggling to fill the silence. Perhaps not unsurprising given that it was my first session and it will take me a while to feel comfortable around them, but also I didn’t want to expect to be able to go in all guns blazing only to be disappointed. Unfortunately there is two weeks to wait until my next session, they’ll normally be weekly, but now I know what to expect I might be able to go in a little bit more prepared and be able to get more out of it.
Tonight I had my first ever, long awaited yoga session. After running 18 marathons last year my fitness isn’t an issue, but that kicked my arse. It’s the most I’ve sweated in a long time and I’m far less flexible than I thought, which really isn’t saying much. Plan is to make it a regular thing and help with my conditioning. #running #yoga #training #vegan #meditation #nomeatathlete #veganrunnersuk
A photo posted by Shane Nicholl (@thatmoonrunner) on
As part of an ongoing attempt to take more care of myself physically, as well as mentally this year, I’ve started attending semi regular yoga sessions. My social anxiety is the one thing that had prevented me ever from attending any yoga or public exercise class of any kind for years, this year I decided to try and be stronger and stubborn, and allow myself to do the things I wanted to do. Typically these first few sessions have passed without much concern, aside from the whole I’m not as flexible as I thought I was, ‘OW that hurts’-ness of it all. But yesterday’s was…different.
I spoke with my counsellor earlier about the overwhelming weight that comes and goes, a storm that is brewing in the back of my mind, that seems to only ever clear by breaking down in tears. It’s something that has been coming and going a lot over the past few weeks, but never once had I been able to just accept it, let it overwhelm me and move on. I’ve even spent evenings trying to trigger something, as it felt it was reaching a crescendo, but ultimately my brain has been emotionally blue-ballsing itself. Yesterday on the walk to yoga the weight returned, and with it a lovely spell of anxiety. At many points along the walk I felt pulled to walk home instead of towards the gym, but I defiantly kept to the plan hoping that it would pass, as it has done for the past couple of weeks.
All my focus and attention was on trying to hold myself together, my breathing became very shaky and at times I completely lost focus, gazing vacantly into the distance. Somehow I got through it without publicly breaking down, I’m not sure how, but I survived. It feels like it was very much a one off, although it didn’t seem like it at the time, perhaps the pressure of the first counselling session took more out of my than I realised. With another Yoga session booked in on Sunday I’m hoping I can hold my shit together, otherwise I’ll have to start doing it at home in my pants instead.