Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fear of Being Alone

Fear of Being Alone...

Today I spent time in the sunshine with a single, male friend of mine.  After a beer or two, he said he was going to head home to eat and watch a film.  I cheekily asked if he wanted one more pint (we'd already had 3) but he declined... I felt boyfriend is currently away with work and the thought of being home alone upset me. 

My regular readers may be aware that I'm a teacher and I live with my boyfriend.  He works some evenings and weekends, so there are times when I find myself on my own.  As I walked home this afternoon, slightly drunk, I wondered why I was dreading spending time on my own?  What was so awful about my own company?  (i-will-not-spend-my-half-term-depressed)

Talking to my friend today, I realised that I've never really been on my own for very long; there's always been a potential or actual boyfriend.  I was in a long term relationship for 7 years, which was extremely destructive for probably a good 5 years of it - that's a whole separate post.  Afterwards, I was a complete mess and swiftly found a rebound.  He was lovely but still a rebound and our 6 month relationship was a complete disaster because I was in no fit state to be thinking about anyone other than myself.  I have to say that he was not quite ready either and we both completely messed each other around by playing horrific mind games, which damaged us both. 

Eventually, I found the strength and wisdom to stop the never-ending cycle of will we, won't we and I finally ended it.  It had been an emotionally draining 6 months.  After nearly a decade of damaging relationships, I had hit an all time low, and was actually ready to start slowly building myself up again (on my own), until I met my current boyfriend.  I was hesitant at first because my head was telling me that I needed time to be single, to deal with the past few years and to find 'me' again (sorry for the cliché).  However, this new man was a complete gentlemen and was exactly who I had imagined sharing my life with.  I took it step by step and I was definitely in control until I was sure I could trust him and that I would not get hurt beyond recovery; I was very aware that I was extremely fragile at this point.

I have been with my wonderful boyfriend for nearly 4 years now.  We own a house, have already shared a great deal of pain, happiness, loss and laughter, and we are still going strong.  I do not regret my decision to begin a new relationship after never really dealing with my past ones.  Sometimes you have to grasp opportunities when they arise.  However, I do wonder about the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and having the ability to enjoy your own company. I'm not sure I have ever managed this!

As a teacher, I get lots of time off and I do find it difficult (feel free to swear at the poor man with too much holiday).   Sometimes I get lonely and feel like I'm missing out on the world around me when really I should be taking time to express myself and making the most out of being able to do exactly what I want to do; something that isn't always possible when in a relationship.  I should listen to music (the-power-of-musicwithout worrying that my boyfriend doesn't like it, write my blog which I find helps my mental health, visit friends who I never get to see because of daily stresses,  and just be who I am and who I was before I found myself in relationship after relationship.

I'm not suggesting that the grass is greener and that I long to be single because I don't - I love my boyfriend very much!  I guess I'm saying that I would like to be content in my relationship as well as with myself.  I need to think of time alone as a privilege and not as a chore.  I think it's important to make the most of each situation, whether that be by yourself or not. 

Unfortunately, society seems to view being single or alone as less desirable than having a partner.  I wonder if anyone is ever truly happy when single or whether it's a case of making the most of it until hopefully the right person comes along?  It's so important not to stay in the wrong relationship for fear of being alone, which is something I have learnt the hard way and will write about soon. 

Maybe this post is extremely ignorant and naïve because I've never given myself time to find out what being single is like?  Perhaps the fear of being alone is just my fear...

Won't Be Beaten

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Gay man with twin baby boys

Hello readers,

It's been a crazy few days!  It was my 33rd birthday last Thursday and my twin baby boys came to visit from Bristol, which was wonderful.  They are about 7 months old now and because I don't parent them on a daily basis, they change completely every time I see them!  The boys gave me the most thoughtful present ever - the noro virus!  By memory, it is the worst illness I have ever had: vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, shakes, headaches and lack of energy were all symptoms I had the pleasure of experiencing.  I didn't leave my bed for a day or two.  Luckily, I've beaten it now and I'm even allowed to go to work tomorrow because I am no longer contagious...

For those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning (honestly depressed for first time) , you might be questioning how a gay man has twin boys.  I am a known donor for a lesbian couple in Bristol.  They have been my friends for a long time now and the biological mother has been my best friend since I was about 14!  They chose me because they wanted their children to have a relationship with their biological father.  This means I see the boys every month or so and get stuck in changing nappies, feeding, bathing and more but I am not a daily dad so to speak. 

I feel incredibly lucky and honoured to be in this situation.  Being gay, I thought that I would never get to have children who were biologically bonded to me.  It is quite a unique situation as I have no actual parental responsibilities but they will know who I am and we will have our own relationship.  Sometimes I feel strange or sad even, because the boys don't know me like they know their mums and I feel like I am missing them grow up a bit.  However, I try to remember that if I hadn't made this decision, then the boys wouldn't exist and I wouldn't get any joy at all like when you hold them and they give you a huge, adorable smile or when they stare at you with absolute trust.

The journey will be a long, complicated one and I am sure that there will be many ups and downs.  I do worry about my depression sometimes and I hope that missing the boys does not become a catalyst for any mental health problems - so far so good.  I do miss them at times.  I get a yearning in my tummy but I am being rational about it and just really look forward to the next time with them.  My boyfriend, who adores the boys, is very good at sorting me out when I start to think negatively!

I think the key to the success of this situation is to remember that the boys always come first and that communication and honesty is crucial.  As long as we all continue to discuss our feelings and be honest with each other (and ourselves), then we should be on to a winner. 

I love the boys.  It's a strange feeling that I have never known before.  I know I probably feel differently to other 'normal' dads but I only know what I know, so there is no point trying to compare.

Some people may not understand what I have done but each to their own I guess.  So far it is working out for me and the boys are so loved and cared for.  They will definitely not feel the pain of rejection that I have felt from my own father (response-to-my-absent-dad).  I will always be there for them whenever they need me and I eagerly look forward to spending more time with them and making more memories as they continue to grow.
Happy Birthday Dad: How past can affect us

I will continue to share my thoughts throughout my journey...

Thanks for reading.

Won't be beaten

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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Response to my absent dad

I received a text from my dad today because it is my birthday tomorrow.  I am waiting a while to decide if I should send my response:

Hi Dad,

I'm not well but thanks for asking.  I suffer from depression and have done since childhood.  I almost dropped out of school because of my mental health.
Sometimes at its worst, I can't leave my bed and I cry uncontrollably.  I've researched it a lot, had counselling and been on medication before.  Luckily, I manage to live a fairly normal life.

I believe that part of the reason why I suffer from depression is because of you and the way I was treated growing up.
All I wanted as a child was to feel loved by my dad but you were unable to do that.
happy birthday dad: how past can affect us

I'm 33 tomorrow.  I don't need or want presents or money from you.  I have needed help and financial support from you in the past but you didn't get in contact or show interest, even after I moved out of home.

I reached out to you a while back and arranged to meet.  I did this to get things off my chest and to try and take away all the sadness I have felt for years.  When we met you apologised and I am grateful to you for that.  I needed to hear you say sorry.

Afterwards you paid me £1000 and nothing changed.  I opened the door to you and you did nothing to try to start any form of relationship.
I don't blame you.  I don't think you have ever been able to give me what I needed, even if you wanted to.  

We are not able to understand each other and never have been.  I imagine you will read this explanation and think I'm weak, soft and pathetic.  It's taken years for me to realise that I'm actually very strong,  sensitive and a good man.

I asked mum not to give you my address because I don't want you in my life.  Mum has nothing to do with my views.  I'm an intelligent adult who knows his own mind.  This is about me and you.

When I receive texts and cards from you on my birthday, it just makes me feel sad because I remember that I don't really have a dad.  I have spent my whole life trying to forget feeling rejected by you.
I don't want reminders from you anymore.  It's like a ghost haunting me.  I'd rather just be left alone to enjoy my birthday with people who love me.

I appreciate that you might think that you are making an effort now but for me it's too little too late.  Sometimes there is too much hurt to move on.

Your son

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Monday, 29 February 2016

Brighton Half Marathon

Hi again,

I feel so brilliant at the moment!  Yesterday I completed the Brighton Half Marathon in 2hrs 4mins.  I feel elated to have achieved this after the few months I've had.  This is a clear example of when I haven't let depression dictate my life!  I was close to not running at all.  running-from-depression
During  the race, in the last 3 miles, I wanted to give up but my resilient nature refused to quit.

At mile 11, I hit my wall, started to doubt myself and I seriously slowed down to almost a walk.  The crowd cheered me on and a complete stranger coaxed me forward and helped me to get back on track.  Thank you whoever you are!  The kindness of strangers always surprises me and you do feel a unique special bond when running together.

My legs are extremely sore and tight and I have been like a complete zombie all day, but my suffering has all been worth it.  When I began to struggle, I thought of my blog, the readers and how I could not bare the thought of having to write that I'd given up.  I am a strong person, even if my mental health can make me feel very weak at times.  Completing this run has boosted my confidence and I feel fantastic!  It really is amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it!

Thank you for all the supportive tweets and kind messages.

Won't be beaten
Twitter: @honestly83

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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Running from Depression

Hello again readers,

I am completely overwhelmed by all the support this blog has received since my first post: thank you!

This week, I have been filling my body with as much carbs and protein as I can take.  The reason for the increase in chicken, fish, eggs, rice and beans is because on Sunday, I am running the Brighton Half Marathon!  I am extremely nervous because training has not gone well.  As usual, I have been very stressed at work, which I think has triggered depression.  I have persevered though and with my past experiences under my belt, (2 Marathons and 1 half) I have finally decided that I am not pulling out! depression-and-daily-stress-of-life 
 teaching and depression the perfect team

On Monday, I went for my longest run this year of 8.15 miles.  I was slow but I did it and I could have carried on.  I am so pleased I forced myself out because it boosted my confidence.  The moon was out and shone down on me as I ran along the atmospheric sea front and there were lots of other runners out too.  It was great to secretly compete with them to try to pick up my pace. 

However, the best thing about the run wasn't the fresh air, beautiful scenery or the interactions with complete strangers and that sense of community; it was that my mind was calm, peaceful and I was lost in the moment.  All of my anxieties and stresses vanished as I was transfixed on what I was doing - running.  I felt like the pure version of me, without the dramas, negativity and doubt that the world forces you to deal with.  It was extremely liberating!  depression-its-not-all-bad

Don't get me wrong, most of the time, the idea of changing into my running gear, braving the cold and exercising when I'm tired and hungry seems horrific, but when I'm actually out there doing it, I feel fantastic and completely positive.  One of the main reasons why I am not cancelling the Half Marathon this Sunday is because I remember the rush of excitement, pride and happiness I feel when I pass that finish line!  It really is the best feeling!

So, tomorrow after approximately 2 hours of running, when I will be cold, exhausted, starving and my legs are tight and screaming out in pain, I will remember that I didn't let work control my life and I didn't let stress and depression stop me from achieving something important to me.  These positive thoughts will support me through my tough times when depression seems to be winning!

I'm not saying that running is for everyone but any form of exercise where you can lose yourself for those few minutes is something worth trying.  I think we are at our happiest when we are living in the moment and not worrying about the past or contemplating the future...

Wish me luck for tomorrow

Won't be beaten

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I will not spend my half-term depressed on social media

Happy Birthday dad - how past can affect us

The power of music on the mind

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Half term depressed on social media

Hello again,

It's been a week or so since I wrote anything new because I've been trying to live my life as opposed to write about it.  I also became a little addicted to Google+, Twitter and Tumblr when initially trying to promote the blog.  Thankfully, I'm over that now and will not be spending most of the day posting links! Phew!

It was Valentine's Day last weekend and now it's half term, and for once I'm truly appreciating it.  Usually, my week off arrives and my boyfriend hides away because I am a complete nightmare.  I get so bored because all my friends are at work or busy and I find myself alone; this is not good for me because I start thinking too much and feel low and frustrated.  I spend the week focused on Facebook, getting jealous of all the amazing places people visit and things they do - social media really isn't good for the soul sometimes!  depression-its-not-all-bad

However, this half term feels different.  I think it's because I have really been struggling at work recently and have been desperate not to go in.  There was a time a week or so ago when depression really made it's presence felt and I wasn't sure if I could carry on with school.  Half term this time round feels like a complete blessing! is-it-time-to-see-my-doctor?


Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I bought plants and bulbs for the garden and I loved getting lost in my own world as I sowed seeds, dug holes and delicately placed bulbs the correct depth and distance apart - it was completely therapeutic!  I can't wait for the sunshine and warmth to arrive so I can sit out in the garden and potter.  I can get a tad obsessed with the garden, ensuring everything is happy and well looked after but I think this is a good kind of obsession.

Last night, as no one was free, I went to a Gabrielle Aplin concert on my own.  I'm so glad I went because she was absolutely wonderful.  I arrived early, enjoyed the support acts and took in the positive atmosphere and beautiful music, which made me smile inside and out.  I nearly didn't go because nerves took over and I became very self conscious. I started to imagine strangers staring at me and judging me but then I told myself to get over it and I went.  In the past, I have gone on my own to the theatre and cinema.  I don't think there is any shame in going solo.  If you really want to see something and no one else is bothered, then why should you miss out?  the-power-of-music

Today I am off to the gym after I write this (I will discuss the gym soon) and then I am being picked up by a friend of mine and we are heading to the countryside for lunch.  I'm really trying to make the most of my time away from the many stresses of teaching.

It's something I always say to myself and then forget; I must be grateful for all I have and not compare myself to others - especially on social media!

Hope you're week is a positive one.

Won't be beaten

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Monday, 8 February 2016

Never feel guilty about depression

Hello all,

I hope you all had a positive weekend?

I had a complete melt down this weekend.  I spent Friday evening and all of Saturday (until 6pm) in bed on my own.  I kept sobbing and did not want to join the world outside my bedroom.  My boyfriend tried so hard to help but when I'm in that state, there's nothing he can do. (is-it-time-to-see-my-doctor?)

I would like to focus more on the important moment when things changed.  It was about 6pm and my boyfriend had reluctantly gone out for the night.  I told him that there was no point in both of us ruining our weekend and he went, probably secretly pleased to be escaping the doom and gloom.

Here is the conversation with myself that followed:

'Come on now, this is ridiculous!  Just get out of bed.  You've already wasted your whole Saturday!"

I slowly pulled myself out of bed, my muscles groaning with every movement.  I put on my slippers and shuffled to the bathroom.  I looked in the mirror - I looked dreadful.

"Just brush your teeth.  You can do that.  Come on!"

I brushed whilst studying the frown lines, tear stained eyes and messy bed hair.

"Well done!  you did it!"

I said this sarcastically but the words of encouragement were actually helping.

"Next you need to shave.  You can manage that."

I shaved.  After that,  I showered and managed to go downstairs and cook a pasta meal.  I congratulated myself each step of the way.  However, the most important thing I told myself was this:

"You can't change what has happened today.  It's done.  You must not feel guilty but feel proud of all you have achieved.   You have had a bad day and that's ok.  We all have them and it probably won't be your last.  You just have to manage it as best you can."

For the rest of the evening, I drank water - not alcohol (alcohol-causes-depression). I started the fire and watched 'The Voice' (I love Paloma Faith) (the-power-of-music) and then I found a great, uplifting film on Netflix called 'Hector and the Search for Happiness', which I highly recommend.

At about midnight, I went to bed feeling absolutely exhausted but more positive.  Even though, compared to my 'normal' standards I had achieved nothing, I felt like I had pretty much conquered the world!

In future, I will try to remember to celebrate every achievement and to never feel guilty about being depressed.

Won't be beaten

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