(Started April 2011 – see below)
Update December 2016
Not such an easy task… (an update on a previous post)
I posted recently that after more than 5 years on reduced rigging, I am now again finally trying a fuller set of sails.
For more than 5 years Citalopram has helped take the winds out of my sails enabling a little more control. Circumstances have changed and a lot is being learned. The Doc agreed, and over two weeks, I slowly withdrew from Citalopram.
But the jump from being relatively in control, with reduced rigging, to sailing with a full set of sails is initially proving not such an easy task.
Stuff’s so vibrant, the stone walls, the sunrise, the colours, and sounds. The words from people, the longing, the tired eyes, hopes, fears, expectations. Music and rhyme juxtaposed with mundane habitual routine. It all seems so vibrant and resonates like bells, through consonance and dissonance, polyphonic messages… noise…
Raw emotional, sensory, cerebral overload. I am hopeful that I will settle into a rhythm but I have been surprised by the hard to control emotion that I am experiencing.
My senses and brain once again resonate with the angst of the futile human condition. So many people really struggling with war, hunger, poverty, abuse, neglect that need real help. Again I struggle to reconcile our society, where poverty and neglect sit beside greed and selfishness.
The polished driver passes the beaten bus queue, driving a machine that costs more than the house that the pedestrian rents. I fear that inside the western consumer is a loving heart smothered and now detached by a toxic addictive culture. Misplaced ambition and foolish one-upmanship leaves me cold. My emotions boom in desperation and fear.
Conversely, I am brought to tears of joy by the bright lights and fanfare of the local dance school’s annual show. Such raw dedication, real people lovingly giving themselves in a common community of hope. Innocence, learning, proud performers, simply sharing what they love, sequins, strobes, smiles… and dance. Infants beam and grandparents sigh. Dance, more than movement, an essence of what we might be. Yes culturally loaded, but essentially human.
So I am back to sunbathing in the rain. But, I will do my best to go without the drugs.
The ship is a mighty vessel, the water is wide, but I need to trim the sail and remember, to just feel for the breath. There will be gusts and storms, there will be calm and glorious cleansing breeze, there will be doldrum, there will be icebergs. As I say, I believe there will also be albatross.
I am not finding it easy, but I will persevere; captain.
Update November 2016
Back with a fuller set of sails.
I have hesitated to post this but here it is for the journal…
After more than 5 years on reduced rigging, I am now again finally trying a fuller set of sails.
Due to a mixture of poor seniority, poor conditions, poor moral, and my failure to see away from the ship, the demands of sailing with a full set of sails left me breathless and were too much for me. With help from true friends, I took steps to de-rig. Over a period of time, Citalopram took the winds out of my sails enabling a little more control.
Earlier this year the foundering ship sank and left it’s crew to find their own way to shore.
Over a few years, and with Citalopram’s help, I have been able to slowly de-rig, deduce, defocus…
After the ship was left to founder, and after much contemplation, cbt, nlp, mindfulness, good friends and the love from a great wife, I’ve now rerigged, reduced, and refocused…
With winds back in my sails, I have recently, after 5 years, finished with Citalopram.
I am still far from knowing what’s around the corner. However, the many simple yet transformative things I have been fortunate to discover in the ports I have visited over the last few years, have been treasurable.
Small things, words, glances, smiles, and truths… As sure as breath follows breath, we can try to be less mindless and more aware. More present, awake, attentive, non-judgemental. Less ego, more soul.
The essence of what we are, and what we find, can drive our sails. We need not hoist competing, controlling and comparing sails, but bend to the breath we find.
Contemplate winds of change. Commune rather than compare… through simple practices, we can move beyond competition, closer towards a truer way, with unknown depths and great potential.
There will be storms, there will be calm, there will be doldrum, there will be icebergs, but there’s also the albatross.
So with a fuller set of sails, I wait for new winds as sure as breath follows breath.
Update May 2016
What is depression?
We all feel sad, helpless, or inadequate at some point in our lives. For most of us, these feelings are completely normal responses to stressful or unpleasant events that we experience, like financial struggles or the end of a romantic relationship. Our negative feelings might be painful and overwhelming, but they pass and become less intense as time goes by.
What can go wrong?
Update November 2015 – “Chop it up”
My daughter won’t eat her carrots; “cos there’s gravy on them!” she wines.
I encourage her “There are only four chunks!”
“They’re too big” she protests.
“Then let’s cut them in half” I suggest, and I attempt to help her slice.
“NO! Then there’ll be more to eat!” she screams.
She ate them in the end, nibbled away at them, unchopped; once she had made up her mind that she was going to eat them. You’re probably familiar.
If you chop them of course there isn’t more, it’s just easier to take on board, there will be the same amount but smaller.
If the big picture’s overwhelming us. Perhaps taking it a bit at a time and savouring the moment is an option. It will not make the task ahead more, but believe me it can make it easier, tastier and richer.
I saw an advert recently for the ‘slow watch’. It has a “24-hour dial allows you to see the entire day in one view … changes the way you look at your watch and it will give you a much better consciousness about the progression of your day.”
I like this, an interesting idea. They say; “slow is not a speed…It’s a mindset that most of us have somehow lost. …[we] often forget that we actually have a choice of how to live. …time is the most precious thing we have so we should enjoy everything we do and stop chasing every minute”
Of course yes, I like this, but personally I don’t do wristwatches. Why strap the time to your wrist? I took my watch off on January 1st new-year 2000. And I’ve never put one back on! I personally ‘feel’ this psychologically frees me from… ‘something’. The time is all around you, if not on your phone, pc or on a wall. If it’s not, then ask someone.
After a lot of reading, listening and mulling… I think slowing down, opening up and becoming bigger, fresher is key to realising what, where and who we are, and who we are sharing our world with.
What Antony De Mello said is often true, “wake up”:
“…they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. Though everything’s a mess, all is well. …tragically, [many] people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare. “
‘Waking up’ makes space infinite, makes time infinite, waking up ‘creates’.
As Ezra Bayda said “What happens when we slow down and pay attention? Everything! Innumerable delights are right at hand.
Yes, the clouds will obscure the sun and opposing headwinds will wear you down. Horizons change, life does that. But, before my neural chemistry causes clouds again, I would just like to make a note:
For many years, I regularly experienced the approach of sleep, night, and slumber with a fearful, closed, security seeking feelings and thoughts. Years ago as a teen and young person, I headbanged at night, sometimes quite violently. However, I have recently become aware that I am reposing differently.
I have noticed that it seems that my sleeping body language, my position, my stance, my footprint, may have changed. I now wake and go to sleep more often in an open position. There’s not much I can say to this except… smile. The worry and anxiety is there, oh yes, it’s a true b**tard. But to use Kyle Cease’s phrase “that’s OK”.
Wake up, chop it up, savour your world… and breathe.
I wish you well. I hope you well, I pray you well, I convict you well.
PS I am (un)reliably informed that ‘chop it up’ in some subcultures means; to talk, banter, take time to chat with friends.
Update February 2015
I’ve recently tried again to reduce my reliance on SSRIs, specifically Citalopram. Alas, it seems for now I still need my corrective fix. Why affecting my neurones reuptake of serotonin should influence my character such, I do not know, but in 2010 I was diagnosed with depression. Along with exercise, NLP and a lot of attention to perspective and outlook etc, SSRIs seem to be essential, keeping me balanced.
Perhaps like a shortsighted person needs glasses, my neurones need assistance.
After 5 years, I have again tried to go without this prescribed aid. I recently tapered it off from one tab a day to one every other day, and then one every third day… but alas ‘the world’ returns. I woke the other morning to tweet “When u wake with weights of the world shredding holes in your brain, fear, worry, empty, fullness, lack, middle-aged, middle-class selfishness” and another to “Joy joy joy joy joy joy joy joy joy joy utter joy…”
Without the SSRIs my thought patterns and emotions range from extreme vibrant beautiful joy to killing ripping dejection. The thing is, I would rather have the spectrum of life where corners are illuminated and wonders are glimpsed than the narrow numbing limited perspective of the medicated view. But with the broader illumination comes an awareness of lacking and the missing failure of nothing in particular.
I have never really enjoyed the plastic quick fix of toffee-crisp-like tonics but I think we all need them.
But… lent approaches… what will we do…
Update November 2013
Before we enter December, I thought I’d post an update.
For some December’s a time of advent, for some it’s a time of merry-making, hopefully for some it’s a bit of both.
Since last year, much has be read and ruminated on, much has been juggled and rearranged. Coffee and cheese remain my friends, and this time of year a glass of Jameson’s doesn’t hurt after 9pm.
My wife and kids are utter joy. My wife is immeasurable fantastic; as a friend, wife and oh er missus. My kids are thriving blessings. Growth is a challenge but we try to en-joy it.
I’m still popping daily, and still trying to be mindful hourly – there are apps for that 🙂 .
I could quote ‘stuff’ that I’ve read and I’ve seen (some great flicks), but that might be like listing what I ate over this year. I have appreciated much and discounted much. Things have resonated and things have jarred. Juxtapositions have created and clashed, the spilt-milk has been mopped up. A sincere thanks all those who have been honest with me.
Some people experience seriously bad weather, it’s unpredictable, and some cope with it better than others.
Many challenges face us, and many have markedly greater challenges.
I have less answers than I did yesterday and much less answers than I did 10 years ago.
It seems to me that less is more. Oh so much more!
Jules – November 2013
PS. I used to be a driver, but I’m all right nooooow!
Update October 2012
Yup, I’m still popping, but more importantly, I pursue a very different perception of things. The idea and ambition of mindfulness helps and thanks must be given to many but specifically Gwyneth Lewis for Sunbathing in the Rain, and Simon Parke for various observations. And primarily my wife and kids for amazing understanding and sparks of true life respectively.
Jules – October 2012 (still on the Citalop and coffee and a nice bit of cheese)
Update January 2012
…feasts on and feeds your fears…
I read some blogging about deps today (Jan 2012) and felt the need to comment:
…thanks, it’s good to hear from others in similar situations.
I remember when I first identified with someone else’s comments, I was (unkown to me at the time) deep in the mists of depression and the notion/feeling that someone else experinced similar was indeed like a shining light through the mist.
As u say there’s no visible symptoms, other than the mood bursts and emotional collapses, but what surprised me was that there’s no specific triggers but that (with me) it’s a chemical physical dis-ease.
It helps to realise that, and treat it appropriately, as you would wear glasses for shortsightedness or use a crutch to support an injury.
That said, I also feel I needed to keep track of my perspectives, consider my daily perceptions of things and balance my ‘world view’, as much as one can.
Most importantly, when you feel the empty pressure of ‘your’ depression resurfacing, just let it blow by (curiously, after some CBT, I think of a wet fish, it helps) just let the world blow by, bend with the wind and let it pass.
It’s easy said when you’re not in the dark, I know, but it helps to remember the light and take a bit with you when the need arises.
Jules – January 2012 (still on the Citalop and coffee)
A period of… transition?
If such as the below effects you, please go and talk to someone, there’s light above the clouds…
2010-ish was a roller coaster of a year – think stomach in mouth, blood rush to head, stomach through the floor, hold on for ‘dear life’, consider letting go… etc (for the lack of a fitting description).
2011 I am at last coming back to a surface after many months floundering in a mist.
June 2010 my GP diagnosed me as with “clinical depression”; Em booked my appointment (thankfully) due to my refusal to accept there was an issue, “it’ll go away”. It had been many months through which I was just not coping with ‘stuff’.
So, my GP signed me onto an NHS counselling course. The waiting list was far to long and after nothing happening, in September I started going weekly to an independent CBT private counsellor.
This was expensive (helped by a large five year rebate from the water board) , but ultimately after 4 months it had stirred around a lot of ‘baggage’ and helped me start to repackage things and see things from different perspectives. This was not a conscious logical process and I can’t explain it – it was a deeper stirring and repositioning of long held notions and instincts. The period was not without ‘incident’ – as you might expect when you stir up sediments.
It has been a serious roller-coaster and Em deserves a medal for putting up with my doom-laden lows and intense highs. Unless you’ve been there it’s possibly hard to know exactly what it was like and I would not wish it on anyone. I can’t explain it, it was not something that I could ‘snap out of’; it was an overwhelming mist, a overwhelming constitution, an inability to see out of a ubiquitous downward looking spiral. Sometimes even my fantastic wife, a great home and two marvel-ful daughters could not clear my moods.
In January 2011 I eventually started the NHS “rethink” counselling programme and was advised after a few more quite unexpected incidents to see my GP again. My GP suspected a chemical imbalance and eventually prescribed me a daily anti-depressant because the physical depression was just not abating… and bingo!
The tablets (Citalopram) act by inhibiting the re-uptake of naturally produced serotonin, raising my ongoing levels of serotonin. After a week it truly made all the difference. I am ‘on this’ now until next autumn but, it’s a different world (just ask Emma). It really has been an experience.
As someone who considers, creates and cogitates too much – I value the period of CBT, as I feel it helped me overtime to reposition myself in a sometimes confusing changing world, before the medication was introduced.
I am now cycling to work and every weekend – and I aim to keep regular ‘sessions’ up. I have to keep my eye on my perspective and not let certain things ‘get to me’. As a fellow ally said to me – [if you feel it coming] “let it world go by while you rest”. I say again, not wanting to be premature but my world is a different world now to what it was 8 months ago.
Onwards and upwards.
This in no way describes the utter doom and lack of feeling… that was experienced and the above was not dealt with lightly it was a very traumatic time.
If such as the above effects you, please go and talk to someone and don’t be afraid of simple medication if advised – without meaning to be trite there’s light above the clouds…
Jules – April 2011