‘Cheer up, might never happen’

Really? Is that really, honestly the best advice you can give to someone with depression? What a loss you are to the medical profession, if only I thought of that. It’s like telling someone with a broken leg to walk it off, I mean for fucks sake.

‘Do you want to talk about it?’

Sure, get a coffee this could take a while. My life is shit, I see nothing positive in the immediate future and I want to walk in front a lorry on a VERY busy road. Glad you asked now?

Ok, I’m being facetious. Talking is good therapy, hearing yourself talk about what you are feeling highlights the issues that internalising doesn’t. I often stop in mid-rant after my mind has kicked in and thought of a solution.

I know you probably have the best of intentions, but really, there is absol-fucking-lutely nothing ANYONE can say at these moments that will make me plaster on a fake smile and appear I’m actually happier than I look it now.

It’s almost over. Sheesh.

A week late with this, but what the heck, publish and be damned.

It’s seems like the run up to Christmas has lasted an eternity! Being subjected to tinsel and shit since the end of September doesn’t help my mood and I’ve yet to see or hear of any compelling reason to cheer up about this time of the year. In fact, it’s probably got even worse this year, what with the advent of new ingenious ways of parting stupid people with their money, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Panic Saturday. Fucking marketing people have a lot to answer for!

But since someone in work did seriously ask me why I detest Christmas so much, I’ve had a good thinking session to see into my little dark soul for an answer to that question, as I’ve never been sincerely asked before and I’ve never really cared to be honest.

So Mark, think back, when was the last time you can remember being sincerely happy at Christmas? Not a bloody clue! Looking back at old photos in the family album is must have been 1983 or something, when I was 12.

The long journey to and from work gives me time to think, and so I think I’ve come up with a few reasons why I detest Christmas so much.

Mental Health

I’m a manic depressive, so Christmas is a hard time if I’m in the depressive spell but even being in the mania stage doesn’t really cheer me up. I used to drink through the week of Christmas so I’d have no recollection but I’m teetotal now that pleasure has been taken away from me now.

Family

I have many happy memories of Christmas as a child, sitting down with my family opening presents and stuffing our faces with food at dinner time before collapsing on the sofa and sleeping it all off.

But drifting off to sleep on public transport while going to work on Christmas Eve suddenly gave me a glimpse of why Christmas sucks to me.

By the mid-80’s, my oldest brother got married and moved out. A few years later, my older brother moved out, and looking back I think it was these two events that destroyed Christmas to me. Yes we all met up at this time of year, but it wasn’t the same. Suddenly we were adults and despite my wish to grow old disgracefully and stay mentally young for as long as possible, the magic was gone. It was somewhat abated by my nieces and nephews growing up.

Advertising

This is getting stupid now.

John Lewis’ sentimental drivel about a bear and a penguin for the last two years, selling nothing but a utopia of love and understanding at Christmas.

Many of the adverts these days portray a Christmas that are alien to many of us normal folk who don’t have large living rooms with trees reaching to the ceiling with a ton of lights and tinsel and crap. In my mind, we’re being fed an aspiration of what our Christmas SHOULD be like, not the reality and yet people will fall of this shit and think “THAT’S WHAT WE MUST HAVE!”

Television

This hasn’t changed much since I was a child, still the same shit rolled out.

And what shitty films are they going to repeat this year? Wizard of fucking Oz again? The Great Escape surely?

The usual Christmas specials of shite programs (I’m looking at you Open All Hours remake!), TV list shows, top 50 shocking celebrity/TV/christmas moments of 2014.

Waste

Christmas makes travelling through town a pain in the ass, and when you work on the other side of the city, you have no choice but to go through it on public transport. But you don’t need to be on a bus to see this, just sit down in any city centre, and just watch and look around you. What do you see? People carry bags of stuff they can’t afford, for children who won’t be interested in it after a couple of weeks, and who’s spend the rest of the year paying the shit off just in time to go through the time shit next Christmas.

Goodwill to all mankind

While I agree with the sentiment, why should it be restricted to just one day in the year? Why can’t we behave like proper human being, and self-aware of those less fortunate in our communities?

Doesn’t it follow that it’s alright to be complete bastards to each other the rest of the year?

bah-humbug-and-sod-christmas-2

So bah humbug, Grinch, Scrooge and all those other names you can call me, fuck you, I don’t care. I can’t stand Christmas, the false fucking sentimentality of it all, the hard sell to get people to spend more money that they haven’t got.

I’m sure if Prince Albert and Queen Victoria could see what their idea of Christmas has become, they’d think bloody twice about introducing so many of the traditions we take so much for granted these days.

But there is hope…

For me this year there was one thing that really made me smile in December. Myself and the wife were invited to a celebrate St Lucia which a Swedish friend on December 13th this year. In a packed church we listened to two hours of wonderful singing by the local Swedish community, before tucking into saffron buns and gingerbread. Yummy 🙂

Appendix

I emailed this to my dear friend Mrs N, who isn’t as cynical as I am, and she said:

To counteract your arguments (which, incidentally, I find to be mainly very true and insightful!), the reasons that I do like Christmas are as follows:

  • For one month a year people, on the whole, are in better spirits and looking forward to well deserved breaks from work.
  • I have a little boy at home who still has the wonderful naivety that comes with being four years old and nearly wets himself at the mere mention of Santa.
  • The normally rather dull, streets of Exeter are filled with pretty fairy lights.
  • Our living room is a very colourful and festive room to relax in of an evening.
  • I get at least three days at home, without any pressure to leave the house for work/shopping/school/nursery during which I can enjoy the simple pleasures of life (playing with the kids, introducing Thomas to old, classic Christmas movies etc etc).
  • I can sod the diet and stuff my face without guilt

There goes another one

Photo by: Volkan Olmez

Looks like I’ve pressed the self-destruct button again and let another friendship go to shit again today, that’s the sixth one in six weeks. The other five friends I won’t miss that much, but this one… yes I think I will miss. Fuck! Maybe I should have put up more of a fight.

Stress and depression should stop me being on the internet and making AND doing such stupid things.

So much for “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Conversations with myself

depression

If someone sees you talking to yourself, some smart arse will inevitably come up to you and say something along the lines of “that’s the first sign of madness.”  The usual sarcastic reply of “it’s the only intelligent conversation I get!” usually shuts them up.

Of course, I talk to myself often in whispers, especially when under stress or pressure, but I’ve taken it one step further.

I’ve turned to writing to myself, out comes the notepad and start writing, or to be more accurate, scribbling. Sometimes it’s just me rationalising things in my head, sometimes it’s a verbatim conversation with my mind as I try to articulate properly a dilemma or issue that’s troubling me.

After I’ve finished, I rip out the pages and shred them. A colleague has asked what the hell I’m doing and when I tell them and show what I’ve written, the look at me blankly then leave me alone.

Inspired by this incident and in my current mood of sharing my coping mechanisms in life, this is what the furious scribbling looks like:

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Bonus points given if anyone can make out what the fuck this says as I struggled a few seconds after I finished. Some of these scribbled notes can go on for four pages!

During my first bout of therapy many years ago, my therapist saw I was an angry person who was a classic example of being the target of bullying at school

She suggested these ideas for getting my anger out of me to stop it eating me up inside.

When you feel stressed and angry, sit back in your chair, breathe deeply and channel those angry feelings down your arms and stretch your fingers and much as possible and visualise those feelings exiting the body.
Use the anger and channel it into something positive, like work or exercising. Obviously I skipped this one.
Get a pen and paper and write down what you’re feeling.

Number 1 works really well when it’s something petty. Number 2 presupposes I’m not a lazy bastard. Number three though, I can do that. I love writing anyway and in the seven years since I was told this might be a good method for dealing with my anger issues, I’ve refined it down to a method of any stresses in life.

When my mind wanders from what I should be doing, out comes the pen and pad and I write furious scribbles. The more angry, the more unreadable it becomes.

At first I used to write properly so I could read it back over and over again, this would get the thoughts out of my head eventually, but I’ve found that it sometimes reminds me once more of what I was trying to get out of my system, and so those thoughts would return.

Instead, I think slowly and write fast what is going through my head. It doesn’t matter that it looks like a scribble and unintelligible to others (and myself for that matter), it’s not the important point of the exercise. It’s about getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper so it doesn’t clog up your mind.

Shredding the writings further destroys any trace of it in my mind.

It’s similar to another trick the therapist told me about. She once asked me why I would get so anxious about going into Exeter city centre and picture what the feeling. So I closed my eyes and I explained to her that it was like a forest, it’s pitch black and trees are bent over coming towards me. She told me to stop, and hold that thought and to mentally take a photograph of that image in my mind, and to then picture dropping it into a bin or a fire.

Both methods have been a great trick to strengthen my hold on reality and, according the wife, more bearable to be around. High praise indeed.

From Mark to Marc, and back again

2013 was the year my mental health dramatically improved, what with my stress levels plummeting, six months of psychiatry help and learning the art of “mindfulness”, and this has led me to reconsider much in my life that I don’t need anymore, and in 2014 that left just one thing left to change. It’s really weird situation, with a really tiresome back story so grab a pillow, a big coffee and let’s plough through my fucked up thinking.

When I ended up at high school, I had the great misfortune to end up in a class with three Mark’s, including me. Being socially inadequate and well outside my comfort zone after being split up from my friends, I thought this was unfair, so for some reason I changed my name, I don’t know why but I’m presuming it had something to do with wanting to stand out from the crowd of Mark’s.

I knew I would be in trouble after leaving school, and Mystic Mark was right. I really struggled in the outside world, nothing prepared me for what a cut throat world it was outside my little bubble. My spells of depression became more regular, lasted longer and progressively worse as I struggled to find work and was bounced from pillar to post as I, and those trying to help me, struggled to get me employment. I left school with no qualifications and no interest in academia.
When I did eventually find employment that interested me, it made not one iota of difference to my depression. As I was  a coder in my spare time, I loved the mania spells in which everything was possible and worked first time, which was in contrast to the down times where nothing worked and I struggled for inspiration. In an effort to find that magic spark in my dark days, I turned increasingly to drink and other substances, and while it eased my creativity issues, it didn’t help my mind which continued to sink further. I threw myself into my work, pulling 36 hour shifts many times just to try to focus my mind away from other things going on.

As I said to my psychiatrist, Marc was the loud-mouth, over-confident, insensitive, arrogant fucker who I probably wouldn’t want to befriend given the choice. Mark on the other hand is a quiet, anxiety ridden depressive who wouldn’t say boo to a ghost.

This is the joy of the internet, complete anonymity and you can project whatever personality you wanted to the world, which didn’t help my almost schizophrenic existence one bit.

But thanks to nervous breakdowns, rampant panic attacks, six months of therapy and medication, my anxiety and depression is pretty much under control, and now my life has changed in all so many ways, my independence… oh sorry, that’s the Beatles isn’t it. But you get the picture, so I’m ending this dissociative identity disorder. The best bits of Marc and Mark together into one entity now so I’ve now had to go through the all my accounts and switched me name around, and hopefully this post will avoid any stupid questions my friends have.

With this “fix” to my past personality faults now fixed now complete, I thought it was time to change URL, “border of insanity” was fine for that period of my life, but it’s a little old hat now. I needed something better as I hit my mid-life crisis head on. So after much thinking, for at least five minutes, I’ve moved over to sarkymarky.com.

As you can see from the scribbles on my work notepad, this was well thought out.

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Choosing a new domain is a tricky thing to do 😀

Depression strikes again

This has been creeping up on me for a while now, but it’s only now hit me full in the face. Yes, the roller coaster ride that is my life has hit the depression stage again, and unusually there wasn’t the manic stage beforehand.

The last few weeks have been complete shite. The constant battle with the marketing department to get some consistency on the web site is a constant source of resentment in me. Coupled with the tedium of my job at the best of times, it’s not a healthy mix.

But worse of all, on Tuesday my Uncle Alan was buried. It didn’t really hit me until we moved from the chapel to the grave side. He was buried in his son Paul’s grave. Now Paul was a cousin of my mine who died of the same condition I had, and I’ve had a terrible guilt complex about his death when he rang me up to ask about the operation and I said “it’ll all be ok.” After his death several years ago, I didn’t speak to Uncle Alan. To see them both in the same grave didn’t help.

It was uplifting to go to the wake, and apart from wondering “who’s’ that” for three hours, it was a good occasion because a) it’s not often my brother comes down from Malvern to visit and b) I met all the uncles, aunties and cousins who I remember from my childhood. Perhaps turning up with a hangover from the night before when I went out with my brothers wasn’t the best idea, but it’s what my Uncle would have wanted.

So anyway, my misery continues and if one more person asks me in work “what can I do to help?” I’m going to swing for them. You can’t do anything; it’s just the cycle of my life. I’ve been pretty good since my two years of therapy at spotting I’m on the edge of falling into a depressive state, but the past two weeks have been too much for my frail grip on reality to handle.

In this state, I’ve deleted two Twitter accounts, two yahoo accounts I’ve had for donkey’s years that I used to annoy people with on the internet and finally decimated my main Twitter account of followers who, according to my head at the moment, “suck.”

It’ll probably mean I’m out of some people’s good books, but not in a position to care at the moment.

Give it a few days and I’ll snap out of it and I’ll be right as rain again.

Maybe.

Boredom threshold revisited

I’ve reached that point again in my online life where I’m bored shitless with being “social.” It’s not a natural thing for me, and it’s coming to the point where it feels like I’m forcing myself to be something I’m not happy with.

For a change, I can’t blame it on depression. The antics of the last week with arguments, accusations of bully, etc has soured the experience for me. Each day seems pretty much the same at the moment with no variation.

A few times this week I’ve almost deactivated my account, only to find that five minutes of piss taking sorts me out for a bit.

So, once again, if I disappear it’s nothing personal – just my head is fucked again.