Nuts: A mental health update..

You can ignore this if you want to see pretty pictures! There will be some along shortly!

I’m doing OK at the moment. As some of you know, circumstances have been difficult since late November / early December; my gym routine fell apart due to lots of time away with work, my workload at work is mentally exhausting with a great deal of responsibility having fallen on my shoulders, and to cap it all my wife had a health scare at Christmas. I have also had a physical health issue myself – a bad infection on my left leg which is now, thankfully, responding to antibiotics – but I was worried for a time. Yet, despite all this I have kept my head above water and largely stayed positive, with help from friends both at work and on WP.

I have had two spells of feeling very dissociated in the last couple of weeks. This I feel is entirely related to work stress and my mind is trying to protect itself by putting a shield up. Next week looks rather difficult at work too.

This weekend coming I will be alone as Susan is away. I think I need to plan some self-care activities as otherwise I fear a downward spiral ahead. A weekend alone, if done right, could be just what I need right now.

Citalopram has also kept my mood elevated or I very much doubt that I would have coped with the stresses of my day job over the last two months. My current prescription runs until Easter then I think it will be reviewed.

I got a letter on friday from the UK National Health Service. They apologised that I am still on the waiting list for counselling 7 months after being referred and wanted to know if I was ‘still interested’. The cynic in me thinks this is how they deal with poor funding for mental health services and they were kind of hoping after all this time that I was either better or had jumped under a train – either way it shortens the waiting list so everyone is happy….

One thing resulting from all this turmoil is that my energy (and time) for making plans has taken a knock. I do have a few things in mind (travel, selling art etc) but am shying away from committing myself, and am now getting angry with myself for not just pushing through it. I did say in a previous post that I was good at procrastination….

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Meanwhile:

It is a few weeks since I posted anything remotely philosophical but I need to write my thoughts on something.

I think I compartmentalise things a lot. Colleagues, friends, wife; all see different facets of me. Even within those groups I will talk about my art with some and not others. Maybe we all do this? We find areas of common ground I guess?

For me it has always been a defence mechanism. I learned early in my life not to show anyone the whole picture – or even much at all. The less ammunition you give someone the less they can hurt you. And it meant I always had a mental safe space to retreat to. This has carried through to my adult self and it is exhausting trying to remember who knows what about me. The only place I feel able to relax and be myself is here or, surprisingly, at the gym. I am very grateful for that and am touched that people seem to like what they see.

Which leads me to my problem: The lines are starting to blur – and it worries me and contributes to my feeling stressed.

Some of my colleagues and work friends have become aware of my artwork. They like it and have asked to see more. The logical thing to do is send them here. But that makes me feel very vulnerable. Similarly, a couple of work friends who I am very fond of have found me on Instagram – which I originally joined a few weeks ago to act as publicity for my art when I start hopefully selling work. It is easy to follow my IG profile to here. As you can see above – my new cards send people here too.

I do not want to feel like I have to become more guarded here because of my fears about letting people from other parts of my life have a new insight into me as a person. I am proud to have been so open on here, even sharing details of my mental health issues, but do I want my colleagues to see this? I’m not even especially happy that my wife (I think) sometimes reads my posts.

It is a problem of my own making I know. Maybe I should have kept the art totally separate from my personal blog? But why should I? Just like the depression and my sense of humour my art reflects a fundamental part of who I am.

I have talked about this with one of you already and we both felt that I should just be me and not worry so much about letting people in. It will still take quite a leap of faith to allow those walls to fall.

I know some of you maintain anonymity for good personal reasons but I have no real reason except my own fear. What do you think? Do you feel self-conscious about people you see in person reading your thoughts on your blog?

65 Comments

  1. Ugh, dissociation sucks. And my walls are so high that nobody would know I dissociate at work because none of them even know I have mental health issues or ADHD. (They know about dysautonomia, not by choice, because I can’t hide fainting in public). I am the poster child for compartmentaluzation. My blog is anonymous, and the only person in my real life who knows I have it – my partner – volunteered never to read it because feeling like he was judging my writing would freak me out. It’s probably not healthy to be that compartmentalized, but that’s the pot calling the kettle black if I were to say it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. It does indeed suck. Dissociation was by far the worst symptom when I was depressed. I hate not being able to concentrate and the feeling of just observing the world from inside a goldfish bowl made from very thick glass.
      I agree that being so compartmentalised is probably unhealthy and it is something I need to work on. I clearly still have trust issues stemming from my childhood, and an expectation of being hurt.
      Thank you for your lovely comment. 😀💕

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh dear Darren! It seems you’re going through a lot these days , I’m sorry. Don’t worry things will sort themselves out before you know it. Keep your hopes high.

    The only person who knows i blog is my mom, and even though she knows , i don’t like her to sneak into what i write , it bothers me ’cause I’m a different person on WP. I prefer to remain anonymous because i’ll be inTrouble if it’s known .
    🌾🌸🌷🍀🍀 Love

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you🙂.

      I am not going to give up. A few weeks ago it was close but things are looking a little brighter now my friend.

      My wife does not really approve of my blogging but tolerates it because my WP friends have made a huge difference to my happiness in the last few months.

      Take care 😊💕

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I’d say whatever makes you feel comfortable. If this is a place of safe haven for you then I would take small steps in letting certain people read your posts. If it has something to do for business, you can direct them to your FB or Instagram account instead. You’ll make the right choice while you have the weekend to yourself. 🙂 Enjoy.~ Bernice

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Bernice. That is kind of the approach I am taking. My work friends, those who I am closest to anyway, are welcome to visit. I suspect that Hayley, Binoti, Sarah and Kim may have visited but none of them have told me so directly, except Kim who I sent to one of my posts about Molly.
      Thank you for commenting and I agree with your suggestions. Well, except FB as I am not on there😀😉💕

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Sending big hugs your way, my friend. You are strong and talented and will continue on your beautiful journey, even if it is rocky, at times. Keep in mind, you could always start a separate WordPress site, to showcase your art. I felt I wanted Growing Self to be just that…whatever I wanted and needed it to be at the time. I started separate, more professional, sites for both my art and photography. I have done more with my photography site, at this point, but have plans for my art site in the future. I wish we could just meet up for tea and brainstorm! By the way, I owe you an email about a little flower, critter and fashion project coming up in March! I will try to send it over the weekend! Life has been a bit busy and I am still struggling with Velvet’s passing. And now I am rambling…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this Roda, I was horrified to discover this was in my spam folder along with other comments from friends. I must be more diligent about looking in there! So apologies I had responded earlier. I would dearly love to meet up for tea one day my friend. Dx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I first started blogging a personal one, I never told anyone. I wanted it to be my private place. Then when I started a politics/world news, I did not want anyone knowing it was me as my opinions might change what people thought of me. And I was very opinionated. The blog I have now, I was going to do the same thing, but changed my mind. I handed out my cards to family, friends and people at work. This site also links to our personal site. I figure what the heck. But I understand how you feel. I am not a social person in “real life.”
    I am glad you are able to talk about your mental health here because it is so important to be able to. You are an outstanding artist and should be very proud of it. You have serious skills!
    I do hope your week-end has you feeling better. Take care.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a lovely comment – and thank you.

      I really thought for a long time about posting this at all. Which is odd because I had no such worries about earlier mental health posts.

      So long as the people who visit are those I feel comfortable with then I will be OK I think.

      Thank you also for your lovely feedback on my art. I sometimes think being artistic and having self-doubt go hand-in-hand!

      Dx

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, with my blog, it depends who they are. If they are open-minded and at least fairly intelligent, i don’t mind about telling them my blog address. However, a lot of people in our area happen to be very close-minded, racist, super-traditional, and stuck in very antiquated ways. I wouldn’t dream of giving them my blog address! It would be like telling a cattle farmer, in your area, that you are a vegetarian. There are plenty of cattle farmers in our area, by the way, and when i ordered a Subway sandwich today, the man making it said, “Oh, I couldn’t go without meat.” 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Absolutely Tom, and thank you 🙂

      I have the same kind of neighbours, sadly. There is no way I would want them knowing any more about me.
      The one thing good that came out of the Brexit referendum was that the xenophobes identified themselves with the posters outside so I now know who not to bother trying to talk to. And it is most of my neighborhood.
      At least my colleagues are all open minded and intelligent 🙂
      Lancaster is thankfully a vegetarian-friendly city though my vegetarianism would be less welcome in our more rural areas for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ll tell you this. There are a select few that I let read my blog. None of my closest friends since they might get mad if I talk about them (I have heard – somebody will figure out who I am – silly but whatever).
    I prefer the autonomy of my blog other than the friends I have made on here. I don’t link it to anything else.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. People often think I have a perfect “life” and judge me over it.
    I think because I usually don’t talk much and they see me having a higher position, a company car and traveling.

    But they don’t know the proper “shit”, insults and tears I went and go through to get to that.
    Sometimes I do wish colleagues would read my blog, so they would know.
    But at the same time, it wouldn’t feel comfortable about it either!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally get that. Though thankfully my colleagues are mostly great.
      We have friend who is an electrical engineer with Jaguar, he also has the company car and lots of travelling but, like you, he has to put up with a lot of crap .

      Like

  9. I have read through this post twice and I don’t know where to start. Firstly, I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling so much at the moment. You probably can’t see it but you are strong enough to deal with all the issues that you currently have whirring round your head. There is so much in this post that resonates with me (probably why I can’t figure out what or how to say it without sounding as though I am trivialising your worries).

    Many members of my family have struggled with mental health and I myself started having problems after my children were born. Both very much loved and wanted and after having a previous still born daughter I truly appreciate that children are a gift BUT I often feel like I am drowning. They are both (high functioning) Autistic and my son has an acquired brain injury which changed him almost overnight. Help through the NHS is awful for mental health support (although this is not only limited to adults or mental health). My own GPs take was that I needed CBT but ‘the waiting list is so long you may as well do an online course’. Not terribly supportive!

    I don’t want this to seem as though I’m trying to turn this to being about me but I wanted to say that I understand some of what you are going through. I keep my blog neutral and only talk about crafty stuff in case people from my kids school were to read it (and I have thought about starting another blog where I can anonymously talk about things almost as therapy itself and because I totally compartmentalise my life) but if you can find a way to be comfortable for work colleagues to possibly get to know you and understand you better then that is fantastic. As for showing your art – don’t ever underestimate your talent.

    Sorry, I’ve rambled on. Hope you have a good weekend. Hannah

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You have not rambled at all Hannah, and I really appreciate you took the time to write this lovely comment.
      I always feel the same way wen commenting on this kind of post – if I try to point out that I understand what someone is going through it always feels like I am just talking about myself. I did not get that impression from you at all and I know what you were saying so please do not worry.
      CBT was a great help to me ten years ago but I ended up paying for it privately. To be honest this was because I was worried about it appearing on my medical records in case it gave my life insurance company an excuse to not pay my wife in the event I ‘accidentally’ drove into a wall one day. It was that close.
      I absolutely get your reasons for not wanting to talk about your own issues on your usual blog but I do think that you might find it helpful to blog about it anonymously if you could find the time. I feel so much less alone for talking about such things on my blog – and there are often others out there who understand and that is a help – as you have just demonstrated!
      I really hope you get some kind of help or respite soon – your situation sounds a hard one and it is little wonder you are struggling.
      Big hug Hannah 🙂
      Dx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much for your lovely reply. I am glad you understood the intention of my comment. Interesting that CBT was such a help to you. I think I was a little jaded by some personal accounts I read about it and a good number of them said that they didn’t feel it had made any difference. I may look into it again.

        I am glad that you didn’t ‘accidentally’ drive into a wall – you have boosted me up today after a low few days. Hannah x

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am glad you feel better. My opinion is that the few weeks CBT the NHS is likely to offer is useless. I was in therapy for a full year and it worked wonders. I know it is expensive to go private but I do not regret it one bit. Also be prepared to feel utterly turned inside out for the first few weeks and ensure you have a support mechanism. One of my work friends really looked after me.
          Please get in touch if I can help. Big hug.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello my friend. Happy Saturday to you. Do what you feel comfortable with. You can do whatever you want but there is the right time for everything. Make sure you see a psychologist it is super important to maintain the mind as healthy as possible. Find the right professional with the right technique or it does not work. Your art is wonderful, let the world know about it. Take care and do something kind to yourself everyday. Whatever it is, have some you time for at least half an hour everyday and try to relax. Also, meditation might help. There are so many meditation free apps out there. Have a lovely weekend and those cards are looking gorgeous. xoxo Cris

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry, hit send by mistake before I could finish.
      I am considering seeking a counsellor privately and have someone in mind. I sgree it has to be right and I do not think CBT is the answer this time – been there and done that and it was great but this issue is different.
      Dominique has also expressed concern that my schedule does not seem to include much relaxation time at the moment, though the gym helps a lot. This weekend is hopefully going to be all about relaxation😊💕
      Thank you for your lovely comment Cris, I do appreciate you😊😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello Darren,
    I am sad to hear that you are going through a tough time. Hope that you will feel better soon.
    I also tend to separate my personal, work and blogging lives, and I become very nervous when they begin to intersect! A few close friends know about my blog and my writing. More than once I thought about linking a Facebook post to my blog, but I always back out at last minute :’) It is terrifying!
    However despite all this, I think our friends and coworkers would be glad to learn more about us through our blogs and hobbies. And those who decide to judge us aren’t really our friends, are they? It’s just a leap of faith that we’ll have to take 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Sophie. Then you know exactly how it feels. I do agree with what you say in your last paragraph and in my heart I know that the people in my life now are not the people who would have hurt me all those years ago but the nerves still persist.
      Lovely to hear from you my friend😀💕

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have a rather personal blog (gotten even more personal lately, feel ya Darren – it’s been challenging lately, but getting better, hope the same for you!) that I’ve been writing at for many years. When folks at work started coming up to me saying, “Hey, I read your blog post…” I was a bit freaked out. Then I got used to it.

    Then I moved and no one read it anymore from work. Sometimes I’d share a post on FB and other times, not. Lately because it has been so personal and hard, I haven’t been sharing. So I can’t give you advice on being brave, but my circumstances are a bit different, I’m a teacher who is ‘friends’ with many of my former students, so I want to maintain a certain profile.

    I think you have to decide if what you share publically can be used against you. And if it can, then I’d be vague or find another outlet. I’m actually not a fan of ‘letting it all hang out’. I think from a writer’s standpoint, it can be crafty to edit out bits that won’t do no good to share. That being said, I always try to remember, no matter how hard you try, you might be misunderstood.

    Here’s to sunnier days.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Lani,
      Sorry you have had a tough time recently too. Yes, it should improve soon but I have been saying that for months!
      It sounds from your first paragraph that you do understand how it feels. I am still at the freaked out stage!

      Like

  13. This is a brave post Darren. In addition to what we have already discussed, I think it is perfectly normal and valid to feel unsure about opening up your world online. I guess if you have the type of blog where it is just art (not to diminish it in any way, but it is not about your feelings, say), then that’s different, but yours is a bit of a mix so it’s understandable you’d be cautious. Other blogs (like mine) are best to remain secret, especially as a woman online writing about sexuality – again, as we have discussed. So each to their own – travel the path gently and see where it leads you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for this. I almost deleted the draft instead of posting it and in fact ended up posting it by accident but decided to leave it up. I have been touched and pleasantly surprised by the responses.
      I do not really regret making my blog more personal. It reflects my journey and my new openness over the last few months. I intend to persevere! 😊😉

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Such a nice lovely and open post❤️I told to few friends about my blog but still not sure about exposing myself fir what I am in front of them …I suppose it must happen sooner or later.You,they can only love you even more .Have a great week end my friend😊

    Liked by 3 people

  15. You are very brave indeed Darren. I think it is quite normal to “compartmentalise” things and many of us probably do this. I know that I do to some degree. My colleagues certainly don’t know everything about me. Do I like that my boss sees me in lingerie and reads my blog? Certainly not. I never told him I had a blog but he found out as one person did mention it to him. So now every time I post something I do think about that. But I have decided like you that I would be myself and try not to worry so much about it. I think Sophie summed up everything perfectly: It’s just a leap of faith. Have a relax and beautiful Sunday my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Oooh absolutely! I was wondering about whether or not to link this to the dreaded Facebook, and have completely backtracked and decided, no! Funnily enough, I joined a gym a while back in order to play tennis and the people who I have met through there are better friends than most. I share pretty much everything with them, no holds barred. No entirely sure why or how it happened, perhaps because we can walk away from it and it’s therefore safe in some way? I don’t know, but I really enjoyed your post, so thank you! ☀️☀️

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I totally get where you’re coming from with feeling self-conscious about people seeing your blog – I’m just starting mine and would feel really embarrassed if people I knew were to visit it.

    As a few people have mentioned here, you have to do what you feel comfortable with. But I just wanted to raise the possibility that through reading your blog, your friends might find it empowers them to talk about their own issues – maybe even start their own blog?

    It’s becoming more and more recognised how important it is to talk about our issues and people are realising we all experience a lot of the same things – which makes everyone feel a bit better.

    Two friends of mine recently ‘went public’ with their blogging, which is what has inspired me to start.

    Sorry this has become a bit long. My point is, your blogging might inspire the people you know, but you should do what makes you comfortable 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Oh, Darren – you’ve been going through a tough time it seems. That leg infection didn’t help that and I’m glad the antibiotics finally helped.
    Having gone through depression myself (using the past tense doesn’t really make sense because it never lets you go though it does get better) I feel with you.
    And I understand the need to compartmentalize. We all show different faces to different people, it’s perfectly normal, and sometimes I think, it’s even necessary. There are people who don’t deserve knowing all about you, it would only give them ammunition – hope you know what mean.
    And you can be proud that people you actually know are interested in your art – which btw I totally love! Except from my mum none of my friends and colleagues is interested in mine – and I told them about it, gave them my blog address and even showed them my paintings. That hurt, you know. I’m not talking about my art anymore with any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you understand really well Sarah. Things are much better this week. In fact it has been a good week so far and I may post about it in a day or two.
      I loved the sculpture in your recent post and I must admit it reminded me of a certain Terry Pratchett character too 😉😊💕
      Thank you so much for your compliment on my own artwork. I am currently working on something new which is going really well.

      So nice you popped in today Sarah 😀💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I´m so glad you´re feeling better this week, Darren, and I look forward to read your post!
        Thanks so much for your compliment – and you´re spot on with that Terry Pratchett character! 😉 Funnily enough he´s one of my favorites, love that bone-dry humor. 😀
        So lovely to hear that you’re working on something new – I can´t wait to see it!!
        Have a wonderful day! 🙂 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Bravo Darren – what a great post :O) It’s not just you at all – there are certain posts that I don’t make public on social media for instance just in case someone close to me reads them and they worry or judge or blah blah blah; it’s not just you :O) x

    Liked by 1 person

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