Spinach & Ice burger

Tomorrow will mark the 4-week mark since I have consciously consumed any alcohol. The official 1-calendar month date will be the 24th, on Thursday.

Strange, eh? Yeah it feels a little weird. I’ve been out 3/4 times in town during this period within a social situation and have had little temptation. Well, I have craved a cheeky bottle of Corona avec (French for with) a fat wedge of lime but I’m pretty sure those will pass. Stopping something you have done almost religiously for the past 15-16 years is never going to be a walk in the park.

Yes, blame my parents for me beginning drinking at the age of 14/15, although I do remember forcing myself to drink a beer at the age of 14 because I wanted to enjoy it and be like other people in the family and look ‘cool’.

As I look through the years I think my definition of ‘cool’ has somewhat changed, especially when trying to portray this image with the consumption of alcohol. Here are my top three moments from what I can remember:

  1. When your dad picks you up from underneath some scaffolding in town after being contacted by one of your mates because you’ve had a few too many sherbets
  2. Most recently, coming back from winning a poker game and pocketing £75 I might just add, drinking almost a bottle of Jack Daniels and lying on the kitchen floor @ 3am blind drunk
  3. Being out of control and instead of ordering 1 shot of a disgustingly made cocktail called ‘Kamikaze’ per friend with me at the current time, ordering 15 (unlikely to have that many friends with me at that time anyway) and drinking most of them yourself
  4. Consuming too much alcohol in a local unnamed pub (The Nags Head on Wyle Cop) and being sick in the toilets whilst simultaneously having chunks of goodness within the beard area – Although miraculously I still managed to get someone’s number! (female)

There are too many, these are the ones which I can think of whilst writing this blog post. Some are much more dangerous but I have finished with all that nonsense now, for the time being anyway!

So I do tend to ramble on with these blog posts, but I have been told by a few that they are entertaining and worth a read, so why am I going to stop a habit of a lifetime and stop being a comedy genius?

Sorry, we’ve run out of spinach… Sorry, we’ve ran out of ice.

This was the title of this post and although it’s a little unorthodox in keeping with the current theme of my blog posts it needed to be posted. So here goes.

With no alcohol for a long time, I’ve found the need to hit the gym a lot more which means I have to, yes, HAVE TO eat more food, it just has to be done! I wouldn’t say I’m eating many more different foods but just more of the stuff which is exciting. Not so much comfort and junk food, just eating out in town more etc.

So I went for a curry the other day with Nick, or Fatlad as some of you may know him. It had been almost 10 months since our last rendezvous so we decided to go for a curry.

After opening several years ago, having many exciting and taste-bud tantalising reviews on TripAdvisor and being recommended to us by family and friends, we decided to go to Panaceafor the 15th time!

Established into the Salopian community for their elegant, beautifully designed and crafted dishes delivered to the tables within, passionate and dedicated customer service and attention to detail and presentation skills, it’s always been a favourite of mine. 15 times and going strong.

Well this has all changed. I am very disappointed.

I am boring…with food… I don’t really like spicy food and I like to have the same thing when I go to any curry house.

The legend that is, Chicken Sag or Sagwala.

I like to play it cool. When I go in, I’ll sit down, and although given a menu, I’ll place it down on the table whilst everyone else confuses themselves with the ever-growing list of unreadable menu items, and I think to myself, ‘Yeah, you got this covered Sam’.

Probably and inevitably too cocky for my own good, it was to my utter shock and surprise that the waiter said, ‘Sorry, we’ve got no spinach’ after I placed my order.

WTF.

After several short minutes of trying to keep my cool, trying to make him laugh with questioning him about the whereabouts of what should be an abundance of Popeye’s favourite food, I was somehow convinced to have a different dish, Chicken Jaipur.

After settling for second best, I decided to have a treat from the usual sparkling water with a slice of either lemon, lime or sometimes even orange, so I ordered a coke, ice and corresponding slice of 1 of 3 citrus fruits.

Sorry, we have no ice.

Rage built up inside me quicker than a lightening bolt strikes the ground, I flipped the table like I had just lost at Monopoly, picked up the nearest sharp object which happened to be a toothpick and stabbed the waiter in the finger!

Well, that was going on inside my head, but I’m a cool, calm and sensitive character so I just sighed and said that’s fine.

I might order a spinach and ice burger next time I go in there, if I ever return. Let’s see if they have the same humour as me.

I think I know the answer already.

Let’s see how long I can carry on with the no alcohol.

Still going strong without a drop: 2 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours, 4 minutes…

Ok, the title here might and probably is a little contradictory but I had some chocolates last week which contained some alcohol, the doesn’t count, right? – Of course not, it’s indirect and I didn’t even know they were alco-chocs until I had scoffed about 6 within as many seconds!

So today marks 2 weeks and 3 days without any alcohol. I think if I had resumed ‘normal’ life and not finding myself slowly coming out of depression then I would of had more opportunities to drink. Don’t get me wrong, I have had them; A few weeks back I forced myself to go out and socialise where I was surrounded by alcohol, but I want to try so much (like you wouldn’t believe!) to eradicate this ‘dark cloud’ over my head that I never even thought once about it, let alone twice.

IMG_0062

The above photo is (now was) my breakfast this morning. It’s a day off from work, I’ve had a little lie in and its a healthy-ish breakfast. Before it closed down in town, I would normally of had a McDonald’s breakfast so I would call this my equivalent. I read somewhere about foods like avocado being linked to somehow helping depression, that’s as far as my reading went because I don’t really like reading, but I’ve started eating more of them because it can’t hurt, surely?!


Day 9 of Citalopram is today. I’ve had 3-4 sleepless nights within the last 9 days but I am managing them by hitting the gym as hard as I can, keeping as busy as possible and maintaining a steady log of HEADSPACE by completing it on a daily basis; before I sleep every night, without fail.

I have been told by my GP that it will probably take 4-6 weeks to potentially kick into my system and ‘lift my mood’. I am expecting something quite magnificent to be honest but I’m not sure if it will be gradual or one day I will just wake up and spring into life. That would be nice, but in all honesty I think it will be gradual.

If I think about it, at the moment have a tiny dark cloud over my head but it’s because I am not in the right place in my life and it’s more like I feel unhappy, which is VERY different to depression. I think if so many things in your life aren’t going right then they can all ‘club together’ and bring you down in a spiral of worry, panic, anxiety and ultimately lead to depression – This is what I believe has happened to me to spark this depressive state this time – Alongside other things which have been brought to light by my therapist.

Depression.

That word is so hard to describe.

You can be looking for hours or even days about the meanings, symptoms, illusions etc but nothing will ever be able to help me describe the unwanted mental pain that you go through when it’s happening. I am even wondering now when watching the TV what I can type to make the readers of this post – But I know whatever I write it won’t make much sense.

Elephants.

What are you thinking about? Big majestic creatures in Africa with huge trunks, floppy ears and cute little babies running around and tripping over?

Most probably this is what your thinking right now. And you will continue to do so for a while.

When you mention a word like elephants to someone like myself  – in a depressed state – it means nothing. Literally. It might pop into your head for a few seconds or so but after that it goes and almost never comes back until necessary or otherwise mentioned.

It’s like that question, can you think about nothing? It’s impossible to imagine because your brain always thinks of something, regardless if you want to or not, but your subconscious grabs something from the back of your mind and brings it to your attention.

With depression, no. It’s literally thinking nothing. Sometimes bad thoughts but the majority of the time it’s sweet FA (Fuck all not Football Association).

There, I feel like I’ve nailed it! Sort of…

I’m still quite shocked at myself for writing all these posts and being brave enough to share this with you. The words keep flowing and coming out of my head and translated to the keyboard and to be honest it feels natural… career change maybe?

Small progress is still progress

Tomorrow will mark the day that I stopped drinking 2 weeks ago. This is part of my 6-month challenge which will aid me if I have an episode of depression again. I’ve said ‘if’ because I am trying to remain as positive as possible!

By achieving something, it will hopefully give me the impression that I have achieved something, big or small, which will eradicate the feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness and self-existence; three very big factors of thinking when an episode hits you.

Since the last post I have had a second session of therapy/counselling/whatever you want to call it. I think the technical term is life cocaching purely because the things in my life are not quite on track at the moment and I need a little help to adjust – Happy to admit it and anyone else reading this should not be ashamed… no one is perfect.

If they are… give them your middle finger! Haha.

I’ve also started taking medication. After weeks of deliberation and taking advice from a few close friends and family, I’ve started on the 20mg Citalopram tablets which have been prescribed to me from my GP.

Just before I go onto talking about them, make sure you see a GP who you like and find one of you can who will connect with you emotionally.

It sounds like a lot to find in a GP but if you can find it then great. The GP I saw at my local surgery seemed to be very distant – I appreciate she probably hasn’t been through depression herself, but just just seemed disinterested.

From the moment I entered the room, it’s almost as if she tried to usher me out as soon as possible with the quickest diagnosis and medication in history! Not very good when you are almost reaching out for help and trying to find a solution to this dark cloud above your head.

The NHS clearly needs to invest in more money into mental health. Given the staggering statistics that in men, between the ages of 20 and 34, people succumb to some sort of mental health illness and take their lives more times than cancer and other illnesses combined will kill them.

I know the World is over-populated but please… let people die from a disease/illness they cannot prevent… don’t let them take their own lives!

Anyway, the Citalopram. There are some side effects; sweating and sleepless nights are the ones I have experienced in 5 days. It may be too soon to experience these, but whether they are psychological or not, I still have them.

Over time, my body will adjust to them and the side-effects will naturally disappear and will become part of ‘normal life’.

From my research, my brain reduces a lower amount of seretonin which is used by th body to determine my ‘mood’. If this mood is lower and I have an episode of depression, it will counter-act it and I won’t be able to manage it properly – Compared to if I had a normal amount of serotonin. The tablets will increase this amount of serotonin and it will help me manage the episodes I may or may not have.

Fingers crossed.

Upon reflection

Just giving a little more detail on this last week and how it has gone.

After initially breaking down last Sunday (23rd) after a few gins the night before which I think sent me over the edge, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were good days.

I re-joined an old gym (Rowton Castle Country Club) which I had previously been a member of 2-3 years back and decided it was time to go back. I spent 2/3 days there to get those endorphins flowing around my body from my brain and really pushing myself and getting that feel good factor going.

It was all going well until Thursday when I had another come down, again. That was twice in 4 days which was unusual. It was very upsetting again but I wasn’t quite sure what it was which actually set me off. Perhaps it was a combination of things like last time.

Anyway, after much-needed support from friends and family I got back on my feet on the Friday and since then has been good. I’ve been hitting the gym, keeping busy, listening to HEADSPACE which is a great app, remaining focused on what goals I want to achieve and very importantly eating as healthily as I can; yesterday being an exception with a homemade Beef Wellington followed by a raspberry and chocolate brownie. All credit to Julie there.

I feel depression is very much like being involved in a RTC – Road Traffic Collision. Some of you are expecting some sort of quick witted comment here or a joke but it’s actually a very serious point.

So it’s causing a person to have a ‘broken mind’ much like the dismantled and twisted metal or plastic that you see jumbled up in a car collision. It is ALWAYS repairable, some cars can take longer than others to repair but there is always a solution to be tailored for each individual car.

You are probably thinking, what about when cars are written off? Yes, that would be the equivalent to a person taking their own life but what they fail to realise is there is ALWAYS a way out. For someone who has depsression it’s very hard to admit that sometimes, but now I am feeling better it’s good for me (and hopefully others) to get it out in the open.

When a car is written off, it’s normally because it’s not financially viable for that particular vehicle to have money spent on it to resume normal service. But… it can be done. Of course it can. If time, effort and determination is put into this ‘project’ or total repair then anything can be accomplished.

It’s exactly the same with the mind. If it’s broken, damaged or not on the right track; fix it, repair it or put it back on.

 

Offa’s Dyke – 04/17

This was without a shadow of anyone’s doubt the hardest walk I have ever done. Yet again, I had gone in unprepared, whilst the ‘pensioners’ had been walking and trekking for months before this event to show me up.

I could only manage to take one day off as annual leave, so I joined in on the Sunday, which was a day off anyway as the store was closed. I joined the crew on the fourth day of four, which was the hardest – So I didn’t plan that very well at all!

IMG_1323
Our group selfie at the start of the trip in a convex mirror

We walked from Montgomery to Knighton. We were led by Rich whose ‘sublime’ leadership skills across these beautiful country hills were second to none, so I’d heard from the 3 previous days, but then we almost got lost after 3 or 4 minutes! It must have been the arrival of a fresh pair of legs which caused the confusion when reading the map.

We plodded on, mile after mile, after mile, after mile and a few more miles. Just when I thought we had suffered enough torture we came to a stand still. My eyes lit up like a small child on Christmas morning, but it was to my disappointment that we had in fact stopped for lunch, not finished the walk.

There is, however, a silver lining to every cloud, so I got stuck in and shovelled some energy into my mouth in the form of sandwiches, crisps, flapjacks and fruit.

Geno decided to do some ‘stretching’ before we set off, and the cliché of ‘one picture tells a thousand words’ really does come into play here…

IMG_1374

A little embarrassed by this, as you would expect, we finished lunch and carried on with the other 7 gruelling miles of this so-called ‘enjoyable’ walk.

We did encounter a few incidents on the way. The first was a little lamb who was trapped on some sort of grass verge, surrounded by fencing which consisted of several circular wooden posts and some harsh metal wiring. Rich and I were first on the scene, so we jumped over the basic fencing system to the mighty lambs aid.

Beckoning his mother in a nearby field, the little fella was clearly distressed. He could only assume that two English fell-walkers had trapped him and were trying to lure him in to an early bird dinner. After several minutes of persuasion with imitation farm-yard noises and chasing the lamb around this manmade enclosure, we finally managed to free Willy and release him into the wild.

It was only until we were marching down the road that Geno pointed out that the lamb was probably meant to be kept contained in that area; therefore us releasing the poor little fella would have led to his immediate death.

As you can imagine, that cheered us up.

Nevertheless, with a skewered lamb covered in mint sauce deeply embedded in our minds, we carried on. Next came incident number 2 – Julie’s irrational fear of cattle.

Geno and I were slightly ahead by 40-50 feet (15-20 metres), so we had the first view of these farmyard field veterans as we got over the brow of a small hill.

“Julie, your friends are here!” I shouted back, as her and Vicky walked sheepishly towards us, making their presence known towards the herd alongside them. Edging forward step-by-step, with faces like a couple of oldies passing cattle in a field, they passed the cattle in the field and braved the walk all on their own.

Felling resilient, empowered with a sense of achievement and with a newly found spring in their step after conquering a life-long fear, they managed to sit down, smile, and pose for a very good photo!

IMG_1365

Yet again, we packed in the miles, hour after hour, blister after blister and snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after …

One of the crew had actually retired from the walk on the previous day. Shiela had been subject to sun for a long period of time. Given that they’d all been walking for 3 days in very intense heat, with little food, it had taken its toll on her; in the restaurant that same night she suffered some sort of turn and was taken home to Llanon.

Thankfully, she made a full recovery, but she was not to get away that lightly. I think she’d forgotten I had volunteered myself for this trip (after weeks of bullying, peer pressure and temptation with treats!) and given my sensitive nature and love for shenanigans and tomfoolery, we recreated the following photo to show her just how much we missed her on day 4.

IMG_1396

Enjoy the rest of the photos.

What a difference a week can make

It’s very sad to imagine how I was feeling a week ago compared to today; empty, down lonely and very depressed amongst so many other weird feelings.

But now I feel so much better. It’s great. I’ve managed to fight depression for another time in my life and it seems to be on the up. Yes, I don’t yet feel 100%, but I feel a darn site better than I did 7 days ago.

But how?! How can my life be that bad that I fall into a downward spiral of self-hate, suicidal thoughts and completely shutting off?

For me now, it’s trying to piece together the parts of the puzzle which will help me understand it more and potentially try to eradicate it or manage it a lot better, should it happen again.

If I think back to the 14th when it all seem to materialise, I was at work, stressed because there was too much paperwork, people were asking questions all the time, I had to try and get the sales in alongside performing all the managerial duties… see where I am going? And this was just work!

The fact that society says I shouldn’t be living at home when I am 30, not having a real career path, not being happy with my body and not really being financially safe hadn’t even entered my mind, at it wasn’t even 11 o’clock yet!

But you know what? Fuck society. It shouldn’t bother me what people think and I certainly shouldn’t have to follow a set path to build a life for myself. There is definitely a certain pressure which seems to be on everybody these days, if the majority of people do something with their lives and it follows a pattern for ‘x’ amount of years then that’s what the new age people should do. It’s bollocks.

The above mentioned ‘issues’ can be worked on time and time again until I get them right; I have the drive, determination, resilience & ethic to complete these things even if I don’t succeed first time.

I’ve never really know what I want to do as a career, and I might never know. So many people just fall into a job which they may or may not be happy with and because it gets them what they want financially or socially, they stick with it regardless of happiness.

I don’t know percentage wise but people unhappy at work who still remain there for a period of 5-10 years or more must be at least 90%! That’s a huge number! Okay, yeah I’ve just plucked that from a chicken’s arse but I reckon it’s not a bad guess.

How many people actually love their job/career?

The main thing now is working on the depression and ensuring I do everything I can to help myself for ‘next time’. Counselling, healthy eating, exercise, focus, headspace, relax and trying not much to give a fuck about things I actually don’t give a fuck about.

PS Sorry for the swearing… felt like a good release.

 

Day 1 – Making changes

I think and very much hope that this period of depression for me is now almost over. There are still some unknown feelings and thoughts in my head, or as I call it the ‘Black Cloud’ – But I have been feeling happier, more focused on life in general and even wanting to get out of bed and perform basic tasks like doing the washing; that’s something I don’t like doing at the happiest of times but it keeps me busy and it is a start.

The reason for the picture below is to depict a moment from Saturday just gone, being the 22nd July. I was at the next door neighbours’ house celebrating a joint birthday party and I was drinking lager and then spirits. I had consumed about 6-7 bottles of medium strength bottled lager and then I went onto gin and tonic.

FullSizeRender
Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend… see you in 6 months time, maybe.

I wasn’t keen on drinking too much but I wanted a little bit to make me feel more relaxed, try to forget about the depression just for a couple of hours and to have a good time.

Of course, it worked!… But the consequences seem to be so severe.

Unknown to everybody else, and potentially even myself, I was making my gin and tonics very strong. The measures were larger than normal and although they didn’t seem to taste that strong, they were. It’s a favourite drink of mine and I suppose I could say I have become accustom to it over the years I have enjoyed it, sociably.

Was this me, subsciously, trying to drown my sorrows and take away the pain of depression with excessive alcohol but keeping it under the radar?

The more I think about it the more it comes apparant that depression had temporarily taken over my mind and was causing me to drink more. Scary, very scary when you put it like that.

The morning after I left the house to go back home, but something wasn’t right. I couldn’t look people in the eye to say goodbye and I could feel myself getting incredibly upset. What was this? Was it the last 8-9 days of depression building up and working towards a release? Perhaps. Was it the gin reacting with chemicals in my brain? Perhaps? Or was it a combination of everything I have been through in the last 2-3 weeks? Maybe.

Whatever it was, I pulled over on the way home and I made myself cry, I had to. It was the only thing I could do to make me feel better. I sat in the car for 20-30 minutes just gazing at the sky and crying. Some bad thoughts entered my head but they were rationalised as soon as I would think about the inevitable but devastating consequences that would be left behind if something was to happen.

I later went home and hugged Mum and even more tears came out! I didn’t know what had caused it this time, just like the last 7 or 8 times, but it felt so good to cry as it was almost like a release of tension.

I forgot to mention that I just striated counselling from a local life-coach, the first of meetings was the Saturday afternoon. We touched base on a lot of family, work, social and other issues which did make me sad and wonder why I had done certain things in the past. I think this was a contributing factor to the upset I encountered on Sunday morning.

“I want to be alcohol-free for 6 months”

That’s what I want to achieve and I have said it in my head like it is shown here.

I have 3 main reasons:

  1. I want to see the effect it has on my body. It will be hard, any habit is hard to form/break, but it can be done. It will have an effect on my social life, because society these days wants you to get drunk and have a good time. A wise man once told me ‘you don’t have to drink to have a good time’ – That wise man will definitely smile when he reads this and will probably send me a text, so I will leave him anonymous, for the time being anyway.
  2. It will improve my health. I often have binges (every 2-3 months on alcohol and I’m sure it doesn’t help my body. All those units of sugary liquids making their way downtown into your stomach… it seems like such. good idea at 3am when you are dancing like a buffoon but at 9am when you wake up…. eurrrgggh. How many times  have you said to yourself… “I’m never drinking like that again”… If I had a £1 for every time I had said that in the last 16 years then I’d probably be able to afford a new beard trimmer. A decent one.
  3. Being someone who suffers from depression means I like to think (In fact I know) that I have some very good other qualities. My drive, resilience, determination and competitiveness are some of my own favourite qualities. So it’s a real test to see if I can do it. I am not the best person in the World for will power, especially when it comes to a greasy cheeseburger being dangled in my face, but I want to do this. I may not get it straight away, and I may even forget I am doing this in a weeks time, but I will pick it up again and get back on track. Who said you only get one shot at doing anything? Second chances are meant to be grasped and held tight with both hands.

 

I am counting this as day 1 then, let’s see how far I can get. Wish me luck!