How I landed in depression by ignoring all the warning signs.

There were at least four warning signs in my life, that unbeknownst to me, were signalling depression on the horizon. If only I could have stopped to reflect on how I was feeling at the time, and sought help before things got really bad. But I didn’t listen to how I was feeling at all, and I didn’t slow down.

This lead to a breakdown/quarter life crisis, meltdowns, chronic back pain, an anxiety disorder, burn out and finally depression. It’s ironic – I never listened to how I felt and now I’ve lost the ability to feel.

For me, I believe this is how it went down:

Warning sign 1: Stress > Warning sign 2: Chronic stress > Warning sign 3: Anxiety > Warning sign 4: Burnout > Last stop: Depression

If you can relate to any of these, I don’t need to tell you the awful effects any of them have on your mental & physical health, wellbeing, relationships, work and life in general.

I’ve learnt lots about myself going through all these things, but I don’t want anyone else to end up with depression if I can help it. So i’m writing this blog post in the hopes I can help you or someone you know, become aware of the warning signs you have, and to seek help, before things get worse.

I think that with either chronic stress, an anxiety disorder, burnout or depression: your brain is maybe telling you that something seriously needs to change in your life-style, situation, or thinking habits. Maybe you’ve been strong for too long.

For me, my life wasn’t balanced at all. I placed no value on healing, play or rest. It was like 24/7 work/achievement/productivity for most of my life. And my thinking habits were unhealthy and unhelpful. I would constantly over-analyse and over-think. My personality was always a worrier, conscientious, highly sensitive, introvert, deep thinker, strong sense of responsibility, inability to set limits, excessively ambitious, high standards and a perfectionist, with a real compulsion to achieve my high standards and goals.

All of those attributes combined, make an outcome like burnout and depression seem pretty predictable, in hindsight.

You can arrive at depression from many different routes, (trauma, genetics, social or environmental factors). For me, it started with simple stress, (and my innate inability to cope with it).

I believe if I noticed and dealt with any of the warning signs, I could have avoided depression. So watch out for those signs of yours! Best of luck on your journey.

In summary:

– Listen and pay attention to how you feel
– Be aware of your personal limits
– Schedule time to relax and play
– Identify warning signs
– Identify causes
– Identify triggers
– Talk to someone, especially GP
– Minimise triggers

By Annie Charnley.

#DepressionAwareness


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Surviving , existing & burning out vs. living

All about balance
All about balance

So, I haven’t written a blog post in a while, here’s why.

I’ve had the realisation that a lot of my problems are stemming from totally and utter burnout and meltdown, like constantly. There’s many reasons for this like stressful work or too many responsibilities. But also your lifestyle and personality/how you look at the world.

I’ve been unknowingly seeing myself as some sort of robot, able to complete everything that needs doing with no breaks and rest. I have a bit of a serial processor brain, which doesn’t seem to be compatible with how life works, and sometimes I don’t know how to live in this world. It’s bad for my health, relationships, work, life and everything really.

I’m finding it very hard to fit into society’s system. I feel I don’t have enough time to do what I want because of things getting in the way like work, sleep, having to eat, shop, clean, exercise, and do other stuff that needs to be done. I feel like I’m always just existing to complete a never ending load of tasks, chores, lists, responsibilities, duties, obligations and problems to solve. I have an intense need for resolve. I can’t think about anything else until things are done, and out of the way. Only then, can I relax and enjoy myself, but because the list never ends, I never get to that part.

Everything is of equal priority, all urgent and it all needs to have a productive outcome or it’s a “waste of time.” Which is silly because intellectually I know that nothing is a waste of time if you enjoy it. It’s like a never ending addiction, it’s my personality (the analytical thinker). I’m not great at taking care of myself, I kind of see myself as a tool to accomplish goals. I can feel lost on holidays and weekends because there’s nothing to fix or resolve, it’s freedom to do what you want, but I don’t know what to do with that sometimes, if I’m honest, weird I know.

I think I need a better filter, better priorities and to get the rest I need to start with. Everything will become more enjoyable if I do it when I’m in the mood to do it too. I’m guessing this isn’t just me and that the human brain didn’t evolve to process the amount of information we’re fed/bombarded with today and to become achievement machines, the under appreciation of rest in modern society isn’t helping either.

From everything I’ve gathered, read and know, I feel like there’s a big scale where at one end, you have right brain dominated people who can relax, have fun and be in the moment, but if they’re unable to be focused and get things done, they’re at risk from becoming unsuccessful, feeling useless and depressed. Much like my little brother, who’s the opposite to me in this way.

At the other end of the scale you have your left brain dominated people who are productive, focused, determined and successful but if they’re unable to relax and live in the moment, they’re at risk from becoming anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, overworked and burnt out and also depressed.

So my personality informs the way I look at the world and my lifestyle, and my job in the mix means this is what I get. Lovely.

I don’t feel free. Life feels pointless. I feel like I’m just surviving and existing, but not living at all.

Never mind the absolute hell my life is because of this, I also don’t want to be on my death bed thinking “I got a lot of things done”, I want to think ”I had a lovely ride, lot’s of fun, mad experiences, and no regrets.”

My friend said a great thing to me “You do need to enjoy things. Like…you’ll die one day. This is a profoundly unfair FACT. You should squeeze out of life what you want, not what you think you should do.”

Which is great advice, but obviously she doesn’t have my brain, personality, lifestyle and mindset. There doesn’t seem to be any help or support out there that I know of for this, but I’ll do all I can to help myself and others going through the same thing.

Fuel to remember:

– If I feel on the verge of a burnout, stop what I’m doing and rest, cancel plans and remove stress
– Ask myself – does that really need to be done right now?
– Try to live more in the right brain and the moment and give myself a break
– Find balance and you will be more content
– I’ll die one day, so squeeze out of life what I can
– Do what the fuck I want in life, not what I think I should do
– I’m not a machine or robot, I’m a human, and human’s need balance in rest and achievement
– Nothing is a waste of time if I enjoy it
– Meditate daily, exercise 3 times a week
– Find a way to do my passions and have a better work-life balance that I’m happy with

 

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I hope this had some value to you, and your mind is more full of meaningful, thought provoking stuff. If you did enjoy it, help me out and share it so other people can benefit/enjoy it too. Thanks.
 
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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung

Irritation, like most things will be on a big scale. It seems to me like the more something irritates you, the bigger an issue you have within yourself and this outside irritation is reminding you of that issue subconsciously. In my opinion, it can become a barrier to empathy/connection/understanding.

irritation

I imagine everyone can relate to the feeling of being irritated by someone. For example, I’ve been irritated in the past by someone’s laugh and I didn’t know why. After some thought, I realised it was because the laugh seemed fake and I would like to think I’m the opposite to fake and I would never fake laugh. First of all this is just my perception, that might just be their laugh, to someone else it could even be a pleasing sound. The irritation is in me, interpreted by my reality filter. And the reason is because it offends or contradicts a value of mine. Sometimes it’s not for any deep reason, and it’s just because people are being loud and ignorant at the cinemas.

Irritation, like most things will be on a big scale. It seems to me like the more something irritates you, the bigger an issue you have within yourself and this outside irritation is reminding you of that issue subconsciously. In my opinion, it can become a barrier to empathy/connection/understanding.

The times I learn something new about myself in this instance, are the times I don’t know why I’m irritated by someone and I do some thinking. I don’t like feeling irritated, so I try to notice when I feel irritated and over time become more accepting of others by questioning my sometimes silly reactions.

So it’s a helpful thing to ask yourself, why does this irritate me so much? Do a bit of digging to find out if it’s actually do to with you and not them, and you might be able to work through this issue once you know what it is AND have more compassion for other people as you stop blaming them and accept responsibility for the feelings.

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I hope this had some value to you, and your mind is more full of meaningful, thought provoking stuff. What’s your opinion on the subject?

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Psychopathy: Instead of treating the symptom, what about the root cause?

 

In this video they’re talking about future possibilities of putting microchips in psychopaths’ heads, to change their brains and make them ‘normal.’ I’m not sure if it’s very ethical and it gives the people putting the chip in; way too much power, playing God a bit. Very similar to the film Clockwork Orange. Some psychiatrists believe they can ‘fix’ psychopaths through things like therapy. And some believe they just need to be locked up forever as they will never change. But either way the damage is done, and lots of people have been murdered in the meantime. So instead of treating the symptom and talking about cures, what about attacking the root cause, and preventing the creation of one in the first place?

In this Channel 4 documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pROu77TvZzA) they discuss the factors that create psychopaths, 1: Genetics (nature, personality, i.e. aggression), 2: Brain pattern (nature, the way they’re wired), 3: Early abuse (nurture, physical, emotional or sexual abuse) and you need to have all 3 in order to become a serial killer type psychopath. If you only have the first two, you will likely become a ruthless business man, surgeon, lawyer or some other high powered exhilarating job.

“It’s biology plus environment which raise the odds of an individual becoming a violent criminal offender.”

Dr. Bob Johnson believes that the 3rd factor is the key to unlocking their condition. So if every single psychopath has a history of some sort of trauma, then what ways can that be stopped from the beginning? I would guess depending on genes and personality, going through a trauma would result in different psychological conditions and disorders for different people. For some Psychopathy, others schizophrenia, drug addiction, PTSD or depression? With traumas like:

– War

– Sexual abuse

– Violent abuse

– Psychological abuse

– Death of loved ones

– Bullying

– ?

Do we need to get our facts right and educate everyone, especially parents about psychopaths and their behaviors? Or spot potential abuse in children, and keep an eye on them even when they’ve left school? Is that too invasive? Apparently you can’t give children therapy because their brains aren’t formed yet and they might change, so it’s too early to start diagnosing conditions.

What if the main cause of psychopaths becoming killers is because of abusive parents? A look back even further might reveal their parents to have also had a traumatic experience. Where do these things start and how do we fix it? The kind of parents that are capable of sexually abusing their child, probably won’t care about education, maybe they aren’t educated themselves. So instead, can we teach children how to be good parents or what good parenting is? So they grow up becoming better parents and spot signs of bad parenting? Who’s to say what’s good parenting? Psychiatrists setting curriculums?

If all parents brought their children up well, the world would be very different wouldn’t it? It’s not just early traumas causing massive mental health issues in people but smaller issues too that can still dramatically affect people’s lives. Like an inferiority complex, anxiety disorders or low self esteem. I think education is a good place to start in helping these problems before they manifest.

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I hope this has had some value to you.

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I’d love to hear comments – whether it’s good or bad. All opinions are valid.

Speaking of change…do you choose fear or growth?

“The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominates is completely dependent on how we view change. Change can either be viewed as exciting, or frightening, but regardless of how we view it, we must all face the fact that change is the very nature of life. If you have a lot of fear, you won’t like change, you will try to create a world around you that is predictable, controllable and definable, you’ll try to create a world that doesn’t stimulate your fears. Fear doesn’t want to feel itself, it’s actually afraid of itself. It’s an object, a tangible thing. Because people don’t deal with fear objectively, they don’t understand it, they end up keeping their fear and trying to prevent things from happening which stimulate it. Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have 3 options: 1. Remove yourself from the situation, 2. Change it or 3. Accept it totally” – Michael Singer (Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself)

The 3 most unhappy people I know are also very controlling and fearful. Along with my personal experience I found this quote too inspiring not to share. I’m learning there’s pretty much nothing that I can control in life, and this lessens stress dramatically. Which I think is another way of saying I’m getting better at accepting change. A brilliant realisation, that I hope more people can make!

“What we don’t know tends to scare us, and change creates a lot of things we don’t know. As a result, we tend to act pretty irrationally to try and prevent change, often without realizing it, and make our lives unnecessarily problematic.” – From an excellent blog post about change by Life Hacker: http://lifehacker.com/5982622/why-youre-so-afraid-of-change-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/all

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I hope this had some value to you. Follow my blog by email on the top right hand side, and get weekly inspiration, videos, quotes and resources on thinking, questioning, growing and learning about yourself, others, life and the world.

I’d love to hear comments – whether it’s good or bad. All opinions are valid! 🙂

 

“I detect a little tension I need some social medicine”

“I detect a little tension

I need some social medicine

so brake out the bread soda

make it safe to get to know ya

not bound by this tension

a little medicine

medicine can help me talk

and put a little swagger in my walk and

give me verbal diarrhoea

help me bond with god knows who

when i’m drunk that’s what I do”

“We’re told that to be great is to be bold, and to be happy is to be sociable. Our society disfavors shy and introverted traits. One way we manifest this bias is by encouraging perfectly healthy shy people to see themselves as ill or weird. Many adults work for organizations that now assign work in teams, in offices without walls, for supervisors who value ‘people skills’ above all. As a society, we prefer action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. Studies show that we rank fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likable and even smarter than slow ones.” – Susan Cain

“Shyness and introversion — or more precisely, the careful, sensitive temperament from which both often spring — are not just normal. They are valuable. And they may be essential to the survival of our species. Shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shy people fear negative judgment; introverts simply prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments. But shyness and introversion share an undervalued status in a world that prizes extroversion. ” – Susan Cain

So why are we taking ‘social medicines’? Social pressure to talk like a funny, charming extrovert? Not being okay with ourselves as quiet and awkward, because society says so? If people only like you when you’re ‘drunk you’, is that what you really want?

‘Social medicine’ can come in many forms – alcohol being the main one, but also prescribed anti-anxiety type drugs, marijuana, and many other illegal drugs. The problem with that is, it’s escaping reality, escaping yourself, potentially dangerous to health/deadly, and it creates a crutch to lean on which can lead to addiction. Acceptance and love from within allows you to use these things for fun and be in control of them, so I’m going to work on achieving that!

Just one more great quote:

“The act of treating shyness as an illness obscures the value of that temperament. Ridding people of social unease need not involve pathologizing their fundamental nature, but rather urging them to use its gifts.“ – Susan Cain

For more information on this subject, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/opinion/sunday/26shyness.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” – Anon

Meaning: You can present someone with an opportunity, but you cannot force him or her to take advantage of it. I find this old phrase applying to a lot of situations in my life.

If someone is struggling and in pain, and you know exactly what they need to do to stop the pain, you just can’t force them to do it, no matter how nicely you try. And even if you did force them, it wouldn’t last because it wasn’t their idea. (The main idea in the film Inception). It’s like that kids story about the sun and the wind making a bet to take a travelers coat off.

You can’t make anyone do anything, and it feels so much nicer when they decide to do things on their own, making decisions based on their own view of reality in situations. Like staying off the drink, coming with you on a trip or to see a film or band, going to therapy. I wouldn’t enjoy it if I knew they only came because I made them. Suggesting an idea is great, but then it’s up to them what they do with it and you accept and respect them for having different opinions and feelings towards things that you might love.

If you want to get someone to do something, there’s so many different ways to get them to do it. Some of which are much better and healthier for relationships and stress levels. I would start by giving them respect and being honest and genuine and accepting that you can’t control the outcome but you can state your intentions and feelings or thoughts. I guess it’s being a good leader which is a whole different post. But just know that you can lead a person to something that’s great, but you can’t make them see it’s great and take it.

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I’d love to hear comments – whether it’s good or bad. All opinions are valid 🙂