I guess this started in February 2015 following the unexpected death of my mother. The passing of my mother followed a few months after by the death of my older sister and not long before that the death of my father. During the time of my mother’s passing I was in a relationship that was ending and all that comes with it and also falling head over heels in love with another. Anyway; my families estate was dealt with and a modest inheritance was received, I ended up moving in with the new partner, for the sake of this let’s call her simply ‘R’. Life with ‘R’ was great I was in love for what seemed like the first time and things were going well, her family was nice, loving and welcoming and it was great just to be around a happy family again. I enjoyed Christmas with them instead of being alone, playing games together as families do, things felt good, I was happy.
1 year later; I am not sleeping very well, it’s not that I can’t get to sleep, it’s that I’m having nightmares, sweaty horrible, very real nightmares. I’m waking up screaming in cold sweats and in a deep panic, I think I’m dying, No! it’s a panic attack… That was horrible. These panic attack nightmares went on for a few weeks. I was ok in the daytime just these nightmares, you soon start to dread going to sleep and quickly feel bad in the day from lack of adequate sleep. I was advised by the previously mentioned ‘R’ to go to the doctors and get help, so that’s what I did. After 10mins with the doctor I’m told that I am depressed and would greatly benefit from anti-depressants, these will also help me sleep if I take at bedtime apparently. Doctor Knows best!? At first the medication I was given (Mirtazapine) really seemed to help, I started to feel in a better mood, although I can’t really remember not feeling in a good mood before to be honest. The sleep was also much better, I slept like a baby and the dreams where nice dreams, not the nightmares I had been having. Now things start to change, I’m feeling very rough in the daytime, think the meds take some time to wear off. I feel in a bit of a bubble, I’m listening to people, but I can’t remember what they said, that’s not very good at work! A few weeks have gone by and now I really don’t feel like myself, I’m thinking about things I never thought about before, I’m told that I never grieved the terrible deaths of my family. I am really questioning myself now, did I grieve, didn’t I grieve, I don’t know. If I could put an emoji in I would, the one of the yellow man slapping himself in the face. Panic attacks have started, am I dying, what’s happening, I feel very confused and depressed now I think. ‘R’ goes away on holiday with her family and suddenly I feel very alone right now with my thoughts. Every day that goes by I feel slightly worse. I decide to go back to the doctors and tell him how I’m feeling, apparently, they need to up my dose of the meds. Doctor Knows best!? This is getting worse, I can hear my mums voice in my head, I’m very alone. I’m really missing ‘R’ she’s still away on holiday, I’m spending all day crying my eyes out looking at old photographs of happier family times, after all I was told I had not yet grieved. The following day I thought that’s it I’ve had enough, went to the local pet shop to buy a dog choker chain, I was going to hang myself. Pet shops don’t sell dog choker chains anymore, slap in the emoji face again. Went to the local supermarket and bought some clothes line wire, the coated in plastic stuff you hang your washing out on. I watched a YouTube video, making a hangman’s knot, tied this to the top of the stairs and jumped.
I landed on the bottom bannister/rail and panicked, I managed to free myself off with a bruise left around my neck. A couple of days later I went back to the doctors I was sure it was this medication, I didn’t feel like this before I was just having nightmares. Maybe the nightmares where just the body’s natural way of dealing with the grief, you know if that isn’t a strong possibility since I wasn’t feeling depressed or suicidal before? Emoji man shrugging his shoulders. What do I know, Doctor Knows best? Let me tell you this, the doctors answer was to up the meds again, oh Yeh! You heard right, up the meds again. I told him I’d tried to kill myself and how, what amazed me on leaving was that he never even had a look at my neck. I refused the meds and said I was coming off them, I requested talking therapy, I was referred to this and didn’t look back.
Withdrawal Hell: On returning home I made the decision no more medication and on ‘R’s return from holiday informed her that id stopped taking the mirtazapine, she didn’t think this a good idea. Also, I informed her of the attempted suicide, she didn’t take this very well to say the least, she had taken this very personal for some reason and had blamed herself. Another slap in the face emoji due I think. Coming off this medication is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, legal drugs peddled by a legal drug dealer I thought, worse than the comedown from a week of doing ecstasy every night for the last year. I felt dreadful, I was emotionally falling to bits from the inside out. Trying to hold a relationship together that was falling apart before my eyes just because id taken the decision to try medication suggested to me by the same person who I was desperately trying to keep happy. I was also trying to hold down a full-time job throughout. Talking of the job, I must mention the impact upon my working life throughout this period. I worked in mental health for a well-known charity providing support to people with varying levels of mental health issues. I was good at my job, well-liked by the service users and most importantly of all I cared, and they knew I cared. During the passing of my loved ones I had various times off work and it just so happened that these times where close together, work where not happy about the amount of time I had off work even though it was time I was entitled to as outlined in one of their many policies and procedures. After the death of my mother and returning to work I remember a manager at work waiting for me on my first day back to tell me off like a naughty child for not ringing in work and texting instead. I explained to the manager that if I could have spoken to someone I would have but I couldn’t bring myself to do this so decided to inform in the way of a text message, the important thing is that I informed you and my head was figuratively up my bottom. Things at work went downhill from then on, I felt bullied by the managers on a daily basis and all the managers where women. For a man (I’m not being sexist) to feel bullied by a woman is horrible because if you are a gentleman you don’t react in the same way as you would do to another man and instead you take all that inside you, internalize the whole frustrations. I could list 100’s of things I think that my place of employment, the place I spent 8hrs per day, trying to help others to the best of my ability did to make me feel worthless. Don’t forget I worked throughout all my personal problems, from the bottom of the mountain all the way to the top. I found another job, I couldn’t stand to be there any longer, good riddance to the job I once loved.
What happened with ‘R’ well she left me, I guess she didn’t want the responsibility of me and thought she would be better off getting on with her own life which was going well apart from me. I don’t blame the girl to be honest, she was probably right and did the right thing. To me however; this was just another loss and I loved the girl I really did, and I kick myself every day. The regained family interaction had gone again, and I was alone, this time really alone. It was Christmas eve and I received a phone call from ‘R’ that was the last time I heard from her and since then I’ve received not one message.
I now had nobody, I have a daughter who I never hear from or see and no family to speak of, so welcome to a world of heartache. My best friend who I really needed right now would have nothing to do with me since the death of my mother, I spoke to him last on the day of her funeral, people are weird, we had grown up together since being little kids. Now the longtime friend had gone without any explanation, hard for someone to take who had prided themselves on always being there for others. I’ve still not spoken to him to this day, despite me reaching out on occasion.
Two jobs later; Since leaving the job with the charitable charity I have had two other jobs within the same sector but to no great success. I really couldn’t get my head around the work any longer, or the industry I was in or in fact the treatment of people with medication etc. The way the whole mental health system works. The government wastes billions of pounds a year on mental health funding and research and are getting nowhere very fast, however; this is another story, another argument, for another day. I have over the last few months been trying to do my little bit to change this, I have formed a company based around sociability therapy, the idea of which people seem to really like, this is not the meaning of the story, so I have included an excerpt from my business plan below to outline the basis of this idea, that’s it on the matter for now:
What is the first thing you do when you feel depressed? Go to the Doctors maybe? Within 5 minutes a doctor can make a decision on your treatment. Usually treatment involves medication, this is almost always offered first, medication can make things worse by not only taking away the negative feelings but positive ones too making you feel in a bubble of emotions. When your depressed isolation often occurs, this isolation is extremely negative and becomes one of the worst aspects of depression becoming the start of a vicious cycle. Talking therapies are available but there is an extremely limited amount of these available and waiting lists are high, not to mention the actual effectiveness and the service users personal experience. Therapy is mainly effective due to the interaction, the talking and the attention given, there is no magic, just like there is no magic pill. They say it takes 7 times for something to become a habit, sit at home for a week and isolation as become a disruptive and destructive habit. Isolation occurs for many reasons initially; lack of self-worth, anxieties, the destructive/negative thought processes and lack of motivation to name but just a few. There are plenty more of these reasons, they are individual to the person and often linked by a chain reaction to one another. Having worked within various mental health services and suffered from depression myself I have a wide outlook on this particular subject, I have seen what works and what doesn’t and having had hundreds if not thousands of conversations with people suffering this same problem I have heard the frustrations and desperations of nearly everyone who has suffered. Whilst working within these mental health services I ran many group activities, these activities were extremely effective in promoting sociability, friendships and allowing for free and open talking not with just staff, but peers maybe suffering the same problems as them. More importantly group activities help break ‘Isolation’ the vicious cycle that is so hard to break. I call these group activities Social Therapy. Social Therapy is far more effective than many of the complicated, get nowhere talking therapies out there with their lack of availability and long waiting lists. Depression is becoming a global pandemic, costing governments a fortune in benefit payments, medications, therapies and hospitalization etc. Social therapy is the answer to not only saving money, but also more importantly saving lives. If this intervention is given early enough a lot of the negatives can be avoided, given anytime social therapy can be life changing. This therapy is not dependent on age, gender, race or background and the beauty is within its simplicity. Has human beings we often look to the over complicated as better, the same way as we look at something expensive as being better, this is not always the case. We cannot see what’s under our noses for looking too far. Do not also forget that breakdowns in community, unemployment, low wages, increasing living costs, relationship breakdowns and modern society in general is all adding to the increasing number of people being affected by mental health problems and again is a cycle within itself.
This particular working model or idea is something that I have had in my head for a long time. I have witnessed first-hand that when this sociability & therapeutic model is delivered properly and credibly it is extremely effective. This kind of therapeutic activity-based idea is usually run by various Mental Health Charities and local services. However; they usually refer to this as simply group activities, these are a money saving exercises and are not used effectively or for the reason of promoting therapeutic gains or in fact as a treatment for depression.
I have since found myself unemployed and severely depressed again, although not thinking about suicide, instead thinking more of a way out of the situation no matter how difficult. If my business idea doesn’t work out, then I need to reevaluate the situation and come up with a new plan of action. Everyone who’s feeling depressed and alone is in a fragile situation and in need of some kind of support from somewhere. I have found that things have a way of soon spiraling out of control, this leads me to the next part.
My Universal Credit Nightmare.
This nightmare started when I unluckily found myself out of work and what has happened since as steadily got worse and worse. I went to the local Jobcentre to see what help I could get and this is when I was introduced to the worst nightmare of my life ‘Universal Credit’. I am paid £692.00 per month, however; £525.00 of this pays my rent as this rent was affordable when working and the situation I’m now in means I cannot move anywhere cheaper. So, of the £692 I’m paid, the amount I have to live on is £167 per month or £41.75 per week. I have no family, no savings or anyone to help me out. I have a car that I have paid the running costs for; insurance and road tax etc. excluding fuel, using the last of my savings. I have deemed the car necessary as there are no jobs near me and travel is essential, fueling the car is another story. The beginning of this nightmare was losing my internet, simply couldn’t afford to make payments although this helped massively with job searching and the internet system, the Journal the Jobcentre expects you to use. The system is impossible without internet as is searching for work nowadays. I am in arrears with gas, electric and water, daily freezing cold showers are the only way to wash and who knows how I am going to pay off these arrears. Eating as become a luxury and there are days, sometimes weeks when I cannot eat anything. What is the result of not eating; No energy, lack of motivation and lack of concentration to name but only a few. How can I look for work feeling like this and what does this do to my moral in general? What is going to happen when I eventually get a job and have to work a week, 2 weeks or a month without pay. How do I get there? How do I eat to have the energy to work? My pay when I get it almost all goes on looking for work, putting extra data on my phone so I can sign in to my journal to prove I’m looking for work and get to interviews etc. Easy to see why I cannot eat or afford my utilities now. I have on many occasions had to walk miles to and from an interview on an empty stomach and no energy because I cannot afford fuel for my car, soon the car is going to have to go, so I can afford to eat and pay my bills or where will I be then? On the streets, maybe, I’m beginning to think this is a very real possibility. Let me add, I want to work, I need to work, I enjoy working and want to contribute to the society I live. Not everyone on benefits is an idle good for nothing state sponger like lots of people believe. Every now and again some of us are down on our luck for some reason unavoidable by the individual and not all of us have family/friends to help us out, where on our own. I have always worked, paid my National Insurance and helped others. Where now is my help? I’ll tell you… I haven’t got any!! Like I said, always paid NI contributions and taxes, so did my late mother and father, so did their parents, they fought for their country for what?? We are supposed to live in a country that’s one of the wealthiest in the world, we pride ourselves on our free health service, we are a democratic fair society are we not?? I’ll tell you it doesn’t feel like it. I feel like the government as dug a big hole and thrown some of us in there and simply said get out of that if you can. I’m trying, but it’s not easy and if I will or not I honestly don’t know, at the moment it doesn’t feel like I will. I just cross my fingers and pray I do.
What happens next: ?