Feeling Depressed :( *Trigger Warning*

Depressed

Hi.

I feel really, really, REALLY bad.

I’m going to be very transparent in this post. Like a freaking window.

I set up this Blog out of pure desperation. I am so desperate to escape my current lifestyle of working in a busy office and dealing with what feels like constant stress. And I needed to be able to express myself to people who don’t know me in real life. I feel thin-skinned and after a while of facing the bombardment of noise and bright visuals, I want to hide away. I start getting really anxious and don’t want to be around people.

I can’t look anyone in the eye, because my self-esteem has died. I start to feel paranoid that people are judging me or whispering about me.

I start to question everything.

Why is this World so cruel? What if there is no such thing as Karma? What if the people who do bad things just get away with it? Why do the bad guys so often succeed and will our World always feel so hopeless and upside-down? How can I escape this? Maybe I should just live in a cave away from civilization. Will I always feel this unhappy? What if there is no such thing as long-term happiness? Maybe the odd moment is all you get. And then you just die. Holy shit – What if this is as good as it gets? I just want to feel peaceful. I just want a bit of space and quiet. I don’t fit into this way of life …

I have been working in the wrong jobs for years but, realistically, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do to get my life on track. It’s hard as a creative person.

I want to be a writer, or do music, or help animals.

But there are too many people in this World and they are better than me. They don’t all have adrenal fatigue or anxiety & depression. I have these obstacles. I have no confidence in myself. I feel like a lone wolf when I go about my daily life. I feel SO alone. I feel like I have nobody to connect to when I’m at work. I feel like nobody understands me. Maybe I am just a freak.

Surely it isn’t supposed to be this hard. I have read SO MANY self-help books and where have they got me? What change have they helped to create? Nowhere. Nothing.

Where do I begin? I am struggling to pull myself out of bed to face what will be another exhausting day. I just want to stay inside, away from the madness. I just want to read books and watch TV.

Due to the stress I have experienced, over such a long period of time, I am gaining weight around my stomach (AKA Visceral Fat). This can kill you in the long run, and though I still appear skinny to anyone who would glance my way, I feel uncomfortable sitting down. I have ‘Skinny-Fat’. My diet is good. I walk a lot. But stress increases cortisol production from the adrenal glands and this in turn leads to weight gain. Until I can deal with the stress (and I’ve tried for years at this point), I am screwed.

I just feel like I’m sinking into a pit of doom. I want to feel safe. I want to feel like there is hope and that I can get better. But I don’t know where to start.

I would like to hear some words of encouragement if anyone is in a position to help me. I’m feeling really lost.

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How To Deal With Anxiety (HSPs).

Matrix

This follows on from my last post, where I talked about why anxiety is common among Highly Sensitive People.

You can read that post HERE.

After living with Anxiety (and Depression) on and off for 10 years, I wanted to share what I have learned and how I deal with my crazy little mind.

I spent a lot of money on supplements for a long time, because I was convinced my anxiety and depression were related to a physical problem. I’m not talking about serotonin – I am talking about the negative side-effects I experienced following treatment with Accutane (as previously discussed). I figured I was only depressed and anxious because I felt weak and tired a lot of the time. Or that my body was over-run by toxic medicine residue.

Did any of those supplements help? No. I literally pissed away thousands of pounds and noticed absolutely NO changes. And when I say supplements, I mean I tried like everything. Ancient Chinese herbs, multi-minerals, other herbal remedies (specifically made for me by a Herbalist). All kinds of nasty stuff, like ‘Chinese Bitters’. Holy cow, they were bad!

At one point, I literally put Coffee up my ass!

Don’t judge me! I was super desperate¬†to feel better and even though I knew it seemed like a long shot, I was advised that it’d help cleanse my liver of toxins. To be honest, it felt quite nice (haha) though those days are now ‘behind’ me.

Get it? ‘Behind me’ … like my butt.

Anyway … it’s totally true that there is a mind and body connection. Stress can literally kill you if you don’t take it seriously. At times, I wonder how the f*ck I’m still alive. Like, I’ve been through some deep shit, man. How has my body not just given up? How have I not got cancer?

Despite some ongoing health issues – which I will touch upon in a future post about Health and High Sensitivity – I am very lucky to have not been struck down with anything life threatening.

But if you lack energy, motivation and generally feel a bit naff, it could be that your mind is having an effect on your body. Just in case anyone is still in doubt or somehow thinks this sounds New-agey, it is pure science. The placebo effect has proven how our mind can influence our body. There are plenty of metaphysical books out there about healing. People claim to have beaten Cancer and other incurable diseases by changing their lifestyles and their minds. I for one believe them, because life is too bizarre to be a mistake.

I don’t think we are supposed to just die for no reason, having not achieved the things we are capable of. Although, having said that, this World is obviously very mysterious and, at times, frustrating and brutal. People die because of other road users, or terrorist attacks, or sociopath cannibals. It is hard to give meaning to some things.

Can you tell I am just writing without a thought? This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but I’m in the zone!

Let’s get to the point though. Anxiety is a big problem. If you are anxious (or depressed, or just generally feeling like crap) a lot of the time, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. I’m sure you have heard this before. The whole Caveman thing, where we are faced with a Lion and our adrenal glands are put to work. Everything is put on hold, resulting in susceptibility to illness, a low sex drive, digestive problems and a bunch of other weird stuff. Your heart might race. You get a throbbing headache. Maybe you feel dizzy.

Here is what I can tell you …

  • The more you fight to change the anxiety response, the worse you feel. Because it doesn’t work like that. You are anxious because you are stressed out and resisting what is your current reality. Continuing to fight, while seemingly noble, will not change anything. If you enter a situation where you feel fear, do not try to change your reaction. You can’t! Allow the anxiety to remain there and slow down. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to just stop caring for a minute. I mean, Jesus, you can’t carry on living like this all the time, right? It can be hard when you are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need to get away from the situation that’s bringing you down. But sometimes, you need to accept your limitations and shift your focus.
  • The more grateful you are – for the things that are awesome about your life – the better you will feel. There are some Millionaires who are less satisfied with their lives than those who can’t even meet their basic needs in Eastern Countries, stuck in poverty. Often, what we focus on is what we feel. So choose to be grateful for the things that are good in your life. I guarantee you have plenty to be grateful for. Your current mindset may say otherwise. Don’t believe a word. It’s easy to keep saying you will be happy when you quit your job, you find a loving partner, you go on holiday or whatever. But sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes dreams remain dreams. Sometimes a holiday is not forthcoming. So look around at what you have now, in the present. Nothing can last forever, so remember to enjoy the things that surround you at this moment in time.
  • Exercise is so important for the following reason. Anxiety and stress cause your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol (hormones). This is okay in moderation, but if it keeps happening you wind up feeling like a deflated bag of potatoes. Exhausted. The best way to release that pent up tension is through exercise. Like, for me, I do get stressed more easily than some people. If I don’t get away from the office during my lunch break, I can start to feel more and more pissed off. I need to have some alone time and space from people. I need to get away from buildings and cars. I get to a spot of nature and it helps. Maybe I still feel fed up afterwards, and want to go home, but it’s the best thing I can do. Combine nature with exercise and you’re onto something good. For me, gyms are ugly factories filled with steroid-injecting, mouth breathing meat-heads, so I avoid them.
  • Anxiety is normal. We can’t feel great and relaxed all the time. And our World promotes anxiety through the negative stories in the news – and there is always a new one. The trashy magazines that tell you how you should look are nothing but poison. People on Social Media can seem so happy and all-together. Remember to keep a realistic perspective. Some people like to make our they are fine when they are really not fine. Not everyone in the streets is a murderer. Celebrities aren’t flawless and pictures are heavily edited. Most of all, accept that with this life (that we have been GIVEN) we can’t always have it our way. Appreciate the good times and carry on when things are hard.

Because I guarantee you, if you feel beaten up at the moment, you will feel better and will have a smile on your face again soon. Anxiety cannot survive if you have hope and love in your heart. So choose to believe there is a reason for all of this. Look for the good in things and if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to take the reigns and create change.

I wish you all a wonderful week.

Please share this blog post if you enjoyed it. It isn’t easy trying to reach people when you are only just starting out.

I would love to hear from you. What makes you feel most relaxed? What are your anti-anxiety tips?

Peace and love,

~ Alex.

How I discovered I was a Highly Sensitive Person.

I first discovered I was a HSP several years ago, when I stumbled upon the World renowned book by Elaine Aron.

I remember it coming up as a book linked to others I was searching for on Introversion, as I had began to realise there were other people like me.

I always knew there was a reason for the way I felt. I just didn’t know what that reason was yet.¬†I thought I’d tell you a bit about my life story … Buckle in. It’s not straight forward or short, but I promise you that it will be an interesting read.

***

I had always been shy as a little dude, thinking about it now. I have some vivid childhood memories, in which I felt scared and alone. Stuck in my imagination, I worried a lot about things that could happen. About things that might go wrong. I will save some of those details for another post I have planned on growing up as a HSP, but I was a happy child, I would say. I had friends, but I was afraid they would leave me. At times, I was afraid I didn’t have enough friends, or didn’t quite fit in. I felt like I would be everyone’s last choice. I felt very unsure of myself when I was on my own.

But the lines became blurred as I grew up. I didn’t know why I was the way I was. At 15, I developed a bad case of Acne and became much more self-aware and lacking in confidence, which I suppose is understandable. No conventional treatments proved to be of any use and I ended up taking a serious, powerful medication called Roaccutane (known as Accutane in The¬†US).

Suddenly, I found myself to be very unstable. I was deeply affected by the side-effects of the drug and I became very emotional. I would cry hard and long … really sobbing, and I would have no idea why. Because, if anything, I should have felt happy that my skin was clearing up and I was looking less like a Pizza.

I had moments of pure rage where I was afraid of myself and the thoughts running through my head. I thought I was going to end up hurting someone, or myself, although I never did. All of this was completely out of the blue for me, and so I was determined Accutane was to blame for my problems with depression and anxiety.

I quit the drug after being on it for 5 months, but my mental (and some physical) struggles persisted.

I spent years obsessing about what the drug had done to me. It was all I really thought about. I would be on forums late at night talking to others who had been negatively affected by the drug. For hours we would try to grasp what sounded like a logical theory of what the drug had done to us. We were desperately seeking a magical supplement or diet that might help us recover our health. Some people tried fasting for 3 weeks. Some people went for colonic irrigation, as if that would reverse all the damage. Others cut nearly every food group out of their diet. All in an attempt to overcome the various issues, like Chronic fatigue, aching joints, dry mouth/dry eyes, low (or no) libido and deep depression.

I myself spent thousands of pounds on different supplements and saw various health specialists. I had numerous blood tests, all of which came back as ‘normal’. I was losing my mind because I just¬†knew¬†that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. I had gone from being super horny and athletic to someone with no desire for sex at all and I felt very weak, physically (and mentally).

None of the supplements made any difference, by the way. And the forum post, which I started, now has over 1,000,000 views. People there are still confused as to what on earth happened. I haven’t been involved with any of the discussions for a few years, but I did partake in a BBC documentary about Accutane and it’s link to Suicide.

But not for one moment during this time did I consider Accutane might not be the only factor in the struggles I was experiencing as I entered the adult World or work and responsibility. I felt certain that it was the culprit. I would have bet my life on it.

And yet, growing up is hard for nearly everyone and all of this happened during a time of massive change. From Boy to Man. From Student to Employee.

During the years after High School and my treatment with Accutane, I felt totally lost. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt tired – constantly. I had social anxiety and I would get depressed often, though the crying for no reason went away quickly after ending treatment. I became very introverted and split off from my friends and family. I spent most days worrying about what the heck was wrong with me. I also thought about killing myself, a lot. Because the emotional turmoil I was going through every day was too much to bear. I felt numb. Completely and utterly worn out. I felt like the best years of my life had been stolen from me and that my life was over.

***

But as the years went on, I realised Accutane was not to blame for all of my problems. I had always told myself that everything was super perfect – and then I took an awful medication.

But was everything perfect?

Would I really have been all that different if it wasn’t for that drug? I’m not saying Accutane isn’t terrible, because in my experience it absolutely is. There is a strong link with suicide and depression and the creators of the drug will continue to deny so, because they want to make money. Billions of pounds.

But I think part of the reason I fell prey to its effects so strongly is because my body is wired differently to most. I can’t drink coffee, I can’t get away with drinking alcohol and I certainly can’t get away with taking a risky, controversial medication.

So, to sum up, taking Accutane was a bad idea. A mistake. But I believe I would still be struggling now (though perhaps less so) if I hadn’t of taken it, or got Acne in the first place.

Because I have always been Highly Sensitive. I was born this way, baby. And it can be hard to navigate through our World as a HSP. I am still trying to piece things together and find my place.

Anxiety and Depression are common, though. This World can create a lot of suffering and the people in charge of this broken system which encourages sitting down at a computer for 8 hours have a lot to answer for. I no longer feel the need to blame Accutane for everything that is wrong with my life, because I know that sitting in an office all day and commuting through traffic are the current problems I face. I cannot change what has already happened but I can play a part in how I spend my precious hours now.

Acne and a traumatic experience with Accutane certainly were added baggage that I wish I could have avoided. They delayed my discovery and understanding of the HSP and Introverted world, because I thought my emotions could be cured with a super healthy diet, or special supplement. But I know I am capable of being happy, because when I am in my element, I am happy as Larry.

And Larry is a happy guy.

I apologise if this post was a bit depressing. And God knows it was LONG. I said previously that I would be brutally honest and open about some of the things I have gone through and continue to go through.

If you made it this far, I want to say a big Thank you. And if you did make it this far, leave a comment saying ‘Santa Claus’, so I know who the extra awesome ones are.

It took time to understand that I was a HSP, and I think it is very common for people to go down a whole bunch of roads before arriving here. Hopefully in time people will find the answers they seek and realise they don’t need antidepressants, because they are not broken and antidepressants will not change your inherent nature.

Sometimes, we need to take a look around and realise WE are the sane ones. Drugs and other substances can numb your sensitivity, but do you really want to be one of them?

I would love to hear YOUR story. How did you come to understand your own nature as a HSP? I look forward to talking to you in the comments!

~ Alex.