Waking this morning after yet another night of over-enthusiastic alcohol consumption I moaned and searched for my water to try and rid my parched mouth of the sour remnants of booze.
I've been back in London for 2 weeks now and the reality of returning from my 12 week adventure is like a punch in the face (followed by a poke in the eye!). The fact that the words are flowing today for me is a relief and this blog is my therapy. Those people who have never experienced depression may just see this as a rant and tell me to get over it (which coincidentally isn't helpful by the way). I'm also not looking for sympathy. Writing is very cathartic for me, it's the easiest way I find to express what is going on and I also want to share my experiences in the hope that it could help someone else in a similar situation.
I knew that it was going to be difficult returning to the 'real world' at the end of my trip. I thought I'd prepared myself enough to power through the expected post adventure blues with a world of newfound positivity and hopes for my future. The reality is somewhat different however. I'm sat on my sofa surrounded by an absolute tip of a flat. There is a weeks worth of dirty dishes by the sink and the recycling bag is full of empty bottles and cans - and I've already emptied it once this week. I have managed to force myself out of my bed though and have showered and washed my rather manky hair which is a good thing, if I manage nothing more today then that's a winner. These are familiar behaviours of my low times. Starting the week positively and motivated to start ticking things off a very long list of things to do that I compiled last weekend, by this morning it's about survival.
Living alone makes it easy to hide this from the rest of the world. To others I probably look like I'm fine. I'm meeting friends and getting out and about but you never know of the struggle that happens on the inside. Falling back into bad habits of using beer to make myself feel happy is when I organise most of my meetings with friends. Realising the next day that I actually have to stick to said plans and go out and make an effort is a crushing feeling. The temptation to cancel is immense but I'm fighting the demons as I manage to make it, but the battle is real and constant. Wanting to hide away but knowing that I need to see people in order to try and pull myself out of a low time is a constant conflict in my head.
Starting things and not finishing them, I feel like I haven't managed to achieve much at all this week. As I look at the living room floor it's littered with bits of unfinished tasks. Camping things from when I came back 2 weeks ago and boxes of bike stuff all waiting to be sorted. I'm really good at telling myself what I plan to do when I first wake in the morning but I inevitably end up sat on the sofa watching trashy TV and wishing I could summon the energy and motivation to do something. It creates negative thoughts, I feel bad about not doing anything and it's a vicious circle. I'm far too hard on myself, I'm aware of that but acting upon it is a different thing. My willpower is non-existant. I am comfort eating - chocolate and pizza are my two favourites and as I squeeze myself into my new jeans that fit perfectly a week or so ago another wave of unhappiness hits home. I feel unfit and unhealthy. I've ridden my bike a few times this week but my ankle is bothering me. It's always swollen as I count down the days until my physiotherapy appointment. My left arm gives me grief every day from the tennis elbow and as I try to ignore the shooting pain in it I know that this just adds to my feelings of depression.
I've been on anti-depressants for about 18 months now, apart from a 3 month spell when I thought I was fixed and stopped taking them only to relapse and need them again. It doesn't bother me so much now that I need the pills, without them I wouldn't even manage to get out of bed.
This is by far the hardest part of my trip, the comedown. All of the things I said I would do and wanted to do when I got back seem like a bit of a pipe dream right now. One of the hardest things right now is the job front. Every friend I meet with after asking about my trip then asks what I'm doing for work. The answer - everything and nothing! I don't want to go back to being a software developer, it's time for a career change. It's harder than I thought. I have no idea what career I want other than knowing that I like sports and to be outdoors. So far I've heard nothing back from any of the jobs I've applied for and although I didn't expect to find something immediately, I had hoped for at least some response. The worst part is having people not understand that I don't care that I will take a severe pay cut, I just want to find something that I will enjoy and pay the bills. Telling me just to suck it up and go back to my old job as no-one likes their job is rather unhelpful. If I don't try this now then I'll probably never find another opportunity to make the change. I obviously can't continued my semi-retired living for much longer as the pennies are slowly being eaten but I live in hope that something amazing will just turn up and it will all fall into place - I'm not sure whether that's completely delusional or just a small glimmer of hope peeking through the dark cloud of depression.
I've been telling myself to write this week. It hasn't happened until now and I beat myself up over that too. I'm actually very lucky of how self-aware I am when it comes to the lows. I've always been a rather introspective person and probably too much of a 'thinker' but it's now a very positive thing as it helps me to realise when I am having a bad time. Right now I know what I need to try and do. I need to go back to the simple things of just taking one day at a time. Easier said than done but I will try. I'm also extremely lucky to have family and friends that support me. Living alone at these times just amplifies the feelings of helplessness that come along. Receiving a text or phone call from people who care can literally make my day as if I haven't made any plans then I can go for days without speaking to anyone and only see people when I venture down to the Co-Op, usually to stock up on pizza, chocolate and beer!
Managing to write this post is a positive sign to the day. Even if I sit on my backside for the rest of the day stewing over all of the things I haven't done, I know that I have done something good and I feel that little bit better having unloaded some of what's in my head. Small steps...