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It’s at its worst when I think I’ve escaped and it grabs me again.
Actually, it’s worse than that.
When I’ve escaped the deep lows which make me sullen, moody, uncommunicative; when I’ve managed to assuage the incessant nervousness, anxious feelings, butterflies, I’m not conscious that I have escaped.
I escape purposefully, using diversions: the main one is my music which has taken me into the top ten of the Indie charts in the USA and which continues to be a huge part of my life.
When I get the headphones on and start to mix a track, I forget. My mind is occupied and doesn’t have time or space for negativity.
More recently, and confusingly, gardening has become a diversion. Theoretically this lets my mind wander and usually, a wandering mind leads to bad places, what ifs and maybes. But when I’m gardening, it doesn’t seem to go there.
Of course, the diversion ends and I think this is what marks a depression/anxiety sufferer out from someone who’s having a bad day.
When the diversion is gone, my mind finds something and the downward spiral of negative thinking, anxiety, low mood and the bottom starts again.
I quit my City of London PR job to tackle my alcoholism back in the nineties.
I had been a reporter on small local newspapers, a regional newspaper news editor and then a reporter on various Nationals in “Fleet Street”.
I thrived (I thought) on the pressure of deadlines, the stress, the stretch, the uncertainty, and the human contact.
Wise men have since told me my ”problem” – what a euphemism – drinking started because I was psychologically unable to cope with those things.
A succession of Psychiatrists and Psychologists – say the drink fed the depression.
Now, I CAN live contentedly. We live in idyllic rural surrounds where – for the most part – the world is viewed from afar.
But my head has other ideas. Right now, I worry over the Work Capacity Assessment – form sent, awaiting inevitable rejection and get low over the need for an appeal.
Today, for this day – and now – I’m ok. What I need the world to know is, I’ll look the same tomorrow, even if the Black Dog then has me by the throat.
I don’t look ill. But I am. And if the black dog has me in his grip, I’ll have butterflies buzzing like angry bees, not just in my stomach but right up my body to my throat.
I’ll be unreasonable and short-tempered with my loved ones, unable to concentrate for more than ten minutes at a time.
If that continues, if I can’t escape it, I’ll get morose and just sit – staring at nothing for so long that my wife will frequently call my name to make sure I’m “ok”.
All I know is that, if the world would just leave me and the things I need be, I’d be fine and bother no-one.
Of course, it won’t: so I turn to my greatest friend outside my family: the serenity prayer I first learned in the AA rooms in Brighton:
Look it up and ignore the “God” word if you wish. Read the sentiments.
It’s the line about “things I can control” that often, spoken silently, keeps me going. And I will keep going as we all must. We are worth it!
Take a look at this website http://www.coquet-shack.com/ for information about John’s music.