This too shall pass…………..but the wait feels unbearable.

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I feel like I’ve been living under a dark cloud for months, every time there seems to be a glimmer of light something happens to make it cloud over again.  I am trying to stay strong, do all the things that are meant to help – eat healthily, exercise, talk to friends, engage in activities and remember that this too will pass.  These are all tried and tested techniques for reducing the effects of depression, and yet my head tells me to withdraw from the world and eat food that is unhealthy, so everyday is a challenge as I fight against my instinct. 

Usually knowing that eventually the feeling will pass is helpful. My head tells me that it’s not true and things will always be this way, but experience tells me this is not the case and there have been better times! The problem at the moment is that the feelings are linked to work and the intolerable situation I am experiencing.  I have endeavoured to do everything I can to resolve the issues but with little success.  I need my boss to take control and sort out the problems but this just isn’t happening and so it continues. An issue that should have been nipped in the bud in November still goes on today and I’m finding it unbearable.  My job has always been something in my life that has kept me functional, something that harnesses my self-esteem, but as I experience work place bullying this is no longer the case.  Although I have been a victim of bullying as a child, I never thought it would happen again, people see me as a strong leader at work so it’s been a shock to find myself back in that crushed state.  I am seeking support and I known that this too will pass; I just hope it doesn’t destroy me or my career first.image

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

“Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again”
Simon and Garfunkel

Life is a struggle at the moment and I’m trying hard to keep my head above the parapet and not sink into the depths of depression. Sometimes it feels as if depression is what I know best, it’s like an old friend greeting me, the familiarity means I feel comfortable there and that makes the fight all the harder.

I look around at friends and family and wonder how they manage to stay positive when things go wrong, how they can keep things in perspective and manage to keep going. I find it so hard and all I want to do is sink into my bed, put my head under the covers and just the let world carry on without me. It feels as if I’ve always been like this. I look back on my life and all I remember is how sad I’ve always felt; how hard it has been to keep going when I feel so bad about who I am. Therapy has helped me understand that this is depression talking, this is what I have to master, not letting that voice become so loud that it drowns out everything else.

I have never let depression debilitate me completely, always managing to keep going despite feeling like I don’t want to. I think my job has played an important part in this, seeing how the lives of other people can be so hard and yet their resilience enables them to keep hopeful; believing I could contribute to making a difference to others has made life have some purpose. Hope is the key, without hope we’re left with nothing. I was once scared to be hopeful, thinking that by hoping life would be better I was setting myself up to fail. This is when I turned to food, cigarettes and spliffs, as a way to block out all feeling and just live with numbness. It didn’t feel good, but it didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t really feel anything. I have stopped this behaviour and am learning to manage my feelings, but there are times when all I want to do is fall back on old coping strategies.

I believed losing weight was the answer to all my problems; that if I was thin I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself; if I was thin I would have the confidence to take on the challenges of life; if I was thin everything would magically work itself out and I would suddenly feel fulfilled – the emptiness would go. Losing weight has indeed been incredibly helpful but it certainly hasn’t been the all encompassing ‘everything will be all right now’ that I thought it would be. Losing weight has given me the courage to try and undertake some of the activities that I believe might help me overcome depression, the strength to adopt more healthy coping strategies where being overweight was an excuse not to.

There is a reason I feel so low at the moment. A relationship with someone I loved very much has ended. A good friend is emigrating to the other side of the world in a matter of weeks, this seems to be an emerging theme amongst my friends! Other friends have moved away from London as they have children and so I feel more isolated than I used to. And then there is work, the one place I have always managed to absorb myself in.

Work is very difficult – first I had to overcome a new boss who seemed overwhelmed with the responsibility and to compensate micro managed, which in turned made me feel like I was inadequate. After some difficult conversations we appear to be overcoming this. However, now I have a deputy who is angry and upset with me for not giving her what she wants. She is known for her difficult behaviour but I have always met her at her level and not let her intimidate me. We have had a good relationship and I felt I understood her and tried hard to support her. This has now broken down and I have been on the receiving end of her bullish and intimidating behaviour. She has picked her moment well, kicking me when I’m down, and although I feel supported by colleagues she feeds into the vulnerable side of me, the depressed side of me, the side of me that feels useless and unable to manage.

I know that I can’t give in to my feelings. I need to take steps to overcome them – meet up with friends, engage in activities to get me out and about, do some exercise, eat healthily, talk / write about it, focus on events I have coming up and remember good times I’ve had and the things in my life that make me happy. I don’t know why this is so hard but it is. Depression is selfish, something that goes against my nature, but it makes me forget about people who are really suffering and I become absorbed in my own misery and the empty feeling inside seems overwhelming. I worry I’m unlovable, fear that I’m worthless and can’t see that this will ever change. Depression makes me feel as if I’m always here, as if nothing has ever been good and nothing ever will be. This is not a truth, this is depression talking. I’ve allowed it to pin me down too often and am determined not to let it do it again. It is a constant fight and I hope that one day it won’t feel quite so hard.

Is Something better than Nothing?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself over the last couple of weeks as my relationship with ‘scrabble friend’ has ended. We got to that same place we’d been in before where we realised that the whole time we were together neither of us was likely to meet someone else as we either didn’t look, or we compared everyone else to each other and they didn’t match up.

We talked about making a real effort to look for other people but I just couldn’t manage that. The thought of him telling me he’d found someone he wanted to pursue things with, and so our relationship would have to end, broke my heart; if the relationship had to end better to be now when we both cared for each other deeply than when I felt angry and bitter towards him. I think part of me wanted him to say we should give it a go and be more than friends with benefits, but I also knew that would never happen. I’m not sure if he knows it, but he has some ‘finding’ of himself to do before he gets to a place where he could make that commitment. He is still searching for someone he can settle down with and have children, I can’t offer him this, so unless he had a radical rethink it was obvious to me our relationship would never move beyond what it was. I loved what we had but wanted more. I want someone to share my life with, to come with me to see friends and family, someone who feels like my partner.

We discussed the situation, went round in circles and then realised that the most sensible thing to do was to say goodbye and cease all contact – because without that we would likely slip back to where we were. That was a couple of weeks ago and now I’m trying hard to cope with the aftermath of saying goodbye to someone who has been my best friend for a year, who I love very much and who I don’t regret one minute of the time I spent with him. He gave me a confidence I was lacking and I will always be grateful to him for that. We had a lot of fun together!

I’m in that place now where I feel like I have nothing and I wonder why I gave up what we did have. Should I have just let it continue and see what happened, isn’t something better than nothing? Maybe neither of us would meet someone else and we could have continued enjoying each others love and friendship. I know it’s unlikely and that we did what we did because it was the sensible thing to do, but sometimes being sensible sucks. I miss him loads and he was such a formidable scrabble opponent!

I’m alone again, questioning what my life is all about, whether I will ever get to a place where I feel content. I know being in a relationship isn’t the answer to all that. I see many people in relationships that don’t make them happy but they fear being on their own; I see how insecure those relationships make them and realise the longer they stay the harder it will be for them to leave. My friends tell me I’m strong for having the courage to end something that wasn’t right; I hope that’s true.

I would really like to find someone to share my life with, who is that ‘special person’ to me. I fear this won’t happen, that I’m destined to be on my own forever. I know it’s common to feel like that at the end of a relationship, the challenge is not to let myself sink so low that I go to that dark place of depression where it feels impossible to get out. I must think positively but it is hard as internet dating doesn’t seem to work for me and I don’t really meet anyone any other way. I’m trying to engage myself in activities to meet others but more importantly just to enjoy myself, but I’ve never really found that hobby that gets me excited. The more I question whether I will find anyone the more I wonder if something is better than nothing and if I shouldn’t have left things as they were because I miss my scrabble friend so much.

The Power of Positive Thinking!

I love to read; escaping into a good book is a wonderful way to spend time. I often find myself talking to people about what they are reading and try to read books recommended to me by others. I was at a party when a friend of a friend started telling me about a book she’d read that had inspired her to change her outlook on life. She urged me to read it, which is how I found myself reading “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch.

I am interested in religion but am not a religious person myself. I have over the years toyed with the idea of a God but have yet to be convinced. The book was not one I would usually be drawn to reading but I pursued it, interested to learn what had had such a profound affect on the woman I met.

On the whole there was much about the book that irritated me but I did take something from it. My understanding of what was being said was that we are all connected to God, the universe, each other, all part of one big entity. We have the power to make things happen by willing it to be that way, we have power to influence what happens to us in our lives through the power of thought. Hence, if you think that your life is shit, the universe will think this is what you want and so it will happen. Therefore, if you think about what you want in life and how you want to be, the same principle will apply and the universe will make it so. It is the power of positive thinking.

About a year later I had a Venezuelan student staying with me. She was very interested in a book called ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, again stating that it had impacted on how she was leading her life and she wanted to share this with everyone. I spent some time looking at the book and found that it was relaying a very similar message. The universe is governed by a natural law called the law of attraction. It works on the principle of positive thinking – you can think your way to a better life. According to Wikipedia the law of attractions works by attracting into a person’s life the experiences, situations, events and people that ‘match the frequency’ of the person’s thoughts and feelings. Therefore, positive thinking and feeling positive are claimed to create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness.

My favourite quote comes from a calendar the student gave me and is now permanently stuck to my fridge. It says “You most likely know of someone who is think and eats like a horse, and they proudly declare, ‘I can eat whatever I want and I am always the perfect weight’. And so the Genie of the Universe says, ‘Your wish is my command!'”

The problem with this way of thinking is that if you are prone to depression and negative thinking, you immediately feel responsible for all the terrible things that have happened in your life, thinking that if only we had thought differently we may have been able to change what occurred! It is also another reason to feel badly about ourselves when we are in a negative place, understanding that we brought ourselves here with our thinking and we have the power to change that but feel unable to which feeds into all the destructive thinking that goes with depression.

In essence however, I do believe that the principle is right. Positive thinking does have an impact on how we feel and live our lives. I like how Diesel from Zazenlife.com says it in his two recent blogs “What are you really thankful for” and “Materialism: Attaching Emotions to Physical Objects” and would recommend checking them out.

As for me, I’ve decided that the reason for life is for living and as long as you are not hurting others then you should live your life the best you can in whatever way you choose. I find balance is the key to being happy, everything in moderation!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a holiday we celebrate in the UK but having American relatives means it’s a holiday I’m aware of and one I feel we could all do with celebrating as remembering what we are grateful for in life is good for our mental health. In the depths of despair when the world feels so dark and I wonder why I bother to live remembering all the things I’m thankful for can help, it doesn’t magically make everything ok but it reminds me that things are never as bad as they seem.


I am thankful for my friends who accept me for what I am warts and all. I am thankful for my cats who provide me with much needed affection on a daily basis. I am thankful for my work which helps me feel I am making a difference in the world and helps my self-esteem. I am thankful for my health which allows me to live my life the way I want to. I am thankful I have a roof over my head, food on my table and whilst money may be tight I do not live in poverty and for that I’m grateful. I am thankful that even though there are times when I feel otherwise I am alive and living my life the best I can with the support of those around me – thank you all.

Living with Depression

“Hello darkness my old friend, Ive come to talk with you again”
Simon and Garfunkel

I haven’t always had a term for how I feel, that came later in life, but for as long as I can remember I’ve had periods where life has just felt so pointless that I’ve struggled to understand why I continue to exist. As a young child it was connected to life in the family and the difficulty I felt in sometimes fitting in and feeling I belonged. In my teens it got worse as I found it hard to process some of my experiences, significantly the sexual abuse at the hands of my grandfather. I took comfort in food which of course meant putting on weight and this in turn made me feel more depressed. In adolescence it is accepted that there are going to be times when you are moody and feel hopeless so nobody paid much attention to the fact that I was unhappy and never knew there were times when I seriously considered ending my life.

As I got older I learned to hide my sadness and believing that nobody likes a misery-guts I became quite a functional depressive. I realised that I as much as I felt that I didn’t want to exist, I wasn’t going to end my life so I needed to find a way to live with my feelings.  I also knew I couldn’t continue to suppress my feelings with weed and food as it was slowly killing me. This is what brought me into therapy.

Therapy isn’t for everyone and I don’t believe it is the only or best way to deal with difficulties, but it has been of great help to me.  There are many different therapeutic approaches, I chose psychoanalysis as for me it seemed to fit with what I needed.  My therapist named what I was going through as depression and helped me understand how I had got there and what I could do to manage it.

I have worked hard at processing my experiences and this has certainly helped with the depression but I fear I will never truly be free of it.  It seems to linger in the dark recess of my mind and rears its ugly head every now and then, as if to remind me of what was.  The difference now is that when that dark cloud settles over me and I wonder why I bother with life feeling as though nothing will ever be different, I am able to remind myself it is only a feeling and it will pass.  In the depth of despair it is hard to remember this and I am grateful to my therapist for reminding me and helping me to remember that there are times when I don’t feel that way because depression can make me forget and I think that is all I know how to feel.

40 and dating at last!

2011 – the year I turned 40.  At the start of the year I was all too aware that I was approaching a landmark and determined that before I got to my 40th I would have been out on some dates and made serious my intention to be in a relationship.

Most people conquer this during their teenage years and early twenties, and I watched as my peers did this and began to settle down with partners and have children.  I was an overweight teenager with low self-esteem, in my eyes no one would ever want to be with me, unless they wanted to abuse me and this is not what I was looking for.  I did have teenage encounters with my peers but they all felt secretive and unsatisfying, putting me further off getting into the dating game!  In my early 20’s I had a short relationship with a guy I met at work who pursued me relentlessly until I eventually agreed to go out with him.  I never really fancied him but I enjoyed the attention and feeling like I was ‘being normal’, he also had his own place which was very appealing given I was back living at home and desperate for some independence.  The relationship ended when I moved away and unfortunately all it did was reinforce in me that I was not the ‘relationship type’.

Oh to find a soul mate!


I got caught in a vicious cycle; I felt fat and ugly and didn’t think anyone would ever be able to love me, this made me miserable and eat my pain away, causing me to remain overweight and trapping me in one of the most difficult cycles to break.  I desperately wanted to connect intimately with someone but couldn’t imagine who would want me.  I told myself that it didn’t matter, that I didn’t want a relationship, I didn’t need anyone and I set about becoming self sufficient.  Over the years I had a couple of connections with people but nothing significant and all somehow reinforcing my negative feelings about myself.

By the time I found myself in therapy I was certain that I didn’t want to be with anyone, that I could manage on my own.  I was confused about my sexuality, unsure if I was attracted to men or women, feeling that I was wasn’t attracted to either but open-minded enough to wonder.  I still felt deep inside that I wanted to be in a relationship, but it seemed such an unreachable goal I wouldn’t allow myself to think about it.

Years in therapy looking at my patterns of behaviour, understanding how I was managing my emotions and finally processing some of the traumatic experiences I had, meant that approaching my 40th year I was in a very different place to where I was approaching 30 and I was determined to start living my life.

It’s difficult dating at 40 when most of your friends have found their life partner, but I have been fortunate enough to still have some single friends who were also looking to be in a relationship and of course there are those who have been there done that and are back on scene again.  Initially I had no idea where to start.  As a young person everything you do seems to involve meeting people and forming alliances.  At 40 it’s not quite as straightforward.  I have a good social life but it doesn’t really involve meeting new people let alone any potential partners.

The first start was internet dating.  “Everyone’s doing it, it’s the modern way” was all I kept hearing and sure enough a number of my peers had settled down with people they met this way.  The first hurdle to overcome was writing my profile.  How the hell do you sum yourself up in short witty paragraph that is going to attract someone’s attention!  I dutifully completed the registration process and stated that I was looking to meet new people and have a good time.  I thought I made it clear with my dialogue that I wasn’t a player, wasn’t interested in casual sex and whilst I wasn’t looking for marriage and children, I did want a level of commitment.  It was quite a shock, therefore, when my first message was from a guy outside of the age bracket I had stated I was interested in, stating that if I fancied some anal sex I should call the attached number!  What had I got myself into!

One of my more astute friends pointed out that the “good time” I was looking for could be misconstrued as casual sex and perhaps this was why I was being inundated with emails from totally unsuitable men all looking for a quick shag!  I soon amended the profile and at last I started to receive some emails from men who seemed more appropriate for me and I had fixed my first date!

Initially I was petrified; worried about my lack of experience, concerned I’d having nothing to talk about and still holding on to feelings of not being good enough.  Standing in Liverpool street station looking out for a guy whose picture I’ve seen, wondering if I’m going to recognise him, my heart starts beating fast and my hands start to sweat, great way to meet a potential new suitor!  Thankfully my date turned up on time, looked like his picture and promptly fell down the steps of the station to almost literally land in my arms.  It was the perfect ice breaker!  We went for a coffee and although it was pretty evident early on that we weren’t going to be a match, we had a good date.  Soon the pre-dating nerves disappeared as I started to feel like an old hat at the dating game.  In fact, it became quite disheartening,  “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you’ll find your prince” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot and I have to say, it’s true and bloody hard work!  Sometimes dating feels like a chore; after a hard day at work the last thing I feel like doing is spending another evening trying to make conversation with someone I don’t want to see again and I meet far more people I don’t want to meet again than the other way round!

A friend suggested we go out on an organised singles night to meet like-minded people.  It seemed like a grand idea; we could meet lots of people at once, we’d be together and the activity planned would give the evening some purpose. We chose a boat trip up the Thames and dressed up in our best togs excited at the prospect of meeting new people.  Initially everyone sat around the edges, tentatively talking to the person next to them.  As the evening went on and the drinks flowed, people started talking more.  It appeared to me that there was an awful lot of drinking going on and by 9pm I found myself surrounded by a lot of drunk people and none of them were people I wanted to spend time with! We went out and stood on the deck of the boat to get some fresh air and take in the sights.  The most interesting person we spoke to was a female teacher, not what either of us was looking for!  I told my friend I could take no more and that if the boat didn’t stop half way along its journey I was going to throw myself into the Thames and swim to the bank!  Luckily we were able to make our escape and vowed never to do that again!

I have since been out on more internet dates and luckily there have been a few where I have been interested in meeting up again.  I have learnt that alongside dating comes heartache.  Initially this has been about not meeting anyone I want to see again, worrying that I can’t make a connection with people or that there is no one out there of interest!  Then came the heartache of meeting someone I really liked and waiting for them to contact me again, to no avail.  This was followed by finding someone I really liked who appeared to like me to, it was great.  We went out, got on really well, enjoyed spending with each other and for a short while I got a taste of what it was like to be in a relationship.  However, as quickly as it started it was over and I was again in pain, trying to get over the heartache.

So here I am again, back on the dating scene trying to find someone to connect with.  It’s hard work and can feel quite disheartening at times.  However, I have hope that I will meet someone who connects with me and that eventually I will find what I’m looking for.