Not Recovered, But Still Trying

crying train

My name is Luke. I am 40 years old and currently on ESA benefits in the UK. After 20 years or so of experiencing at least 2 major depressive episodes a year, I am currently being reassessed. It’s possible that I will be diagnosed with Bipolar II or Borderline Personality Disorder. I used to be a contracting web developer. I may be one again some day. I’m on the waiting list for a care coordinator at my local CMHT.

Since childhood, I have felt myself to be different to everyone else. I was on the fringes, standing alone at parties. I spent most my sixth form avoiding school and sitting in the local library. I made it through University somehow and worked in IT for a number of years, still not fitting in and turning more to alcohol to self-medicate my depression, anxiety and general ‘otherness’. I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. I ran away to Australia for a year. My problems followed me. I had a string of disastrous relationships and many relocations back to my family home when the depression got too bad.

I’m now 40 and still no further forward. I am back living with my parents and on new medication which needs a slow titration until I reach the appropriate dose. I don’t own my own house, am in debt, don’t have any income and most of my friends have long since given up on me. Some days I am overwhelmingly suicidal; and can’t do those small helpful things. And yet somewhere deep inside of me there is still some hope.

I don’t know where it comes from but I still get out of bed most days and manage to wash. Brushing my teeth in the shower helps just a tiny bit. Getting out for a walk helps a little more. Exercising with a personal trainer has got me to lose almost 20 kg in the last 6 months. I am learning the guitar and hope to revisit drawing which I was reasonably good at when I was at school. I’ve joined a band (I am quite a good drummer) and am trying to get out a bit more.

Some days I feel that just maybe I am on the road to recovery, however long that might end up being. Suicide would not really solve my problems. It would devastate my parents who are already fairly miserable. And as nobody really know what happens when you die, who’s to say I won’t be reincarnated in some other body with the same problems or worse. I could have been trapped in a war zone or abused so there are things to be thankful for – a roof over my head, my cat and my intellect (though the latter can be a curse at times).

I don’t really know if this counts as a recovery story as I am far from recovered. But maybe it will help someone to know that there are other people going through the same things. You can contact me on twitter if you want to reach out or ask questions. I wish you the best of luck. Don’t give up. Keep talking. Try as many therapists as you can until you find one you are comfortable with. And one last tip:

If you are going to see a psychiatrist, don’t treat it like a job interview and present your best self. Be you on your bad days. Don’t deceive but be as detailed as possible about your darkest thoughts. It might save your life.

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