on my mind

on my mind

This is a follow up to the post I wrote a few weeks ago (Committing To A Better Me). Content warnings for depression themes and mentions of suicide.

About five weeks ago, I finally reached out to my doctor about my symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. They gave me a referral to a therapist, nearly two months off work, and a prescription for an anti depressant, sertraline. The next couple of weeks were extremely tough as I was dealing with both my own breakdown and adjusting to the new medicine. My body had a hard time getting used to it compared to many! However, since starting cognitive behavioural therapy just over a week ago, with a psychologist who was able to quickly connect with me, it seems like things might possibly be on the upswing again.

Throughout my life, for years and years, I have dealt with strong feelings of anxiety about so many things. The one theme that has stayed throughout has been my constant fear of rejection and abandonment. It’s never been anyone’s fault, including mine. It just kinda is. The problem, is that it has caused so much friction in mine and other peoples’ lives, so I feel thankful that it’s been highlighted to me and I can start working on it better.

The fear of rejection permeates so much of my life. With friends and relationships, I constantly worry that people will “realise” that I’m “terrible” and leave me without notice. I therefore spend a lot of time trying to placate people and make them happy at my own expense. I carry a lot of guilt and shame towards any kind of decision that benefits me rather than others. I’ve bended my hobbies and interests to try and be as likeable as possible, and in doing so, it’s crushed any idea of self identity, which is a big factor in my depression. This also further propels my guilt and fear, that at some point, people will notice I’m “soulless” and want nothing to do with me any more.

All of this is made worse since, in my head, relationships seem to be divided into a “they like me” and “they hate me”, with no room for in-between. My mental model hasn’t allowed for people upset at me but still caring about me. Or people being polite and cordial but not my biggest fan. Or just completely ambivalent! This then means, that any time I even slightly displease someone, I instantly jump to the feeling that they think I’m the worst and they are just waiting to get rid of me. I constantly self reflect and get lost in my own head about things I’ve said or done, and spiral easily.

At work, I’m constantly worrying about how my team feels about me, and any mistake is magnified 100x against myself. And in reality, they are nothing but supportive! But I go about my day constantly stressed that I’m about to get fired out of nowhere, and seen as a fraud. This has been the case at every job I’ve worked at since I was little. In the past, every time I go out, I carefully think about my appearance and how others (especially strangers) may perceive it, and pick “safer” choices accordingly. I micro-analyse people’s facial expressions when they glance at me and constantly assume the worst. This will then contribute to me feeling even small and even more ashamed of myself, as my brain reinforces the negative imagery. Even when I’m out at clubs, or socialising at events, or doing hobbies, I’m constantly worried about how I look and not wanting to make a fool of myself! It’s hard for me to let go and have fun.

These all build and accumulate in this episode of severe depression and anxiety that I’ve currently been working through. If I’m constantly self criticising and thinking the worst about myself and worrying about everything and everyone in my life, it’s so easily for me to spiral and feel completely lost, and hopeless, and that the world is better off without me. These thought patterns have occurred. I’ve been to some really dark places in the last couple of weeks, and at times have been incredibly scared and worried about how the next couple of days would go.

This realisation has been so important to me. It’s helped me not fall back into my depressive spiral for a few days now, and I want to continue working on it over the next couple of months. It’s a tremendous amount of work to break out of these negative thinking patterns. CBT doesn’t work for everyone, but it seems to have had a positive effect for me rather fast. The sertraline might be helping? But it’s really unclear. I’ve been given techniques to focus and distract myself out of my head. I’ve been shown and demonstrated the patterns my brain falls into when I worry, and noticing them has helped me try to stop some of these in my tracks.

I have fucked up in the past with my feelings. I will probably continue to in the future. “You are not god”, as my therapist told me. I should not hold myself to perfection or expect to get everything right the first time. Not everyone has to love me unconditionally! Making peace with all of this has helped a lot. This fear of failure and rejection and abandonment holds me back from trying to do so much. I’m going to do what I can to move forward and try to be the best version of myself I can, and by extension, helping to lift up my friends, my family and my community. I will slip! Things won’t be perfect, and the road to a healthier brain is bumpy and full of hazards.

I’m so lucky to be around so many wonderful people, especially my partner. He has been steadfast in his support of me and has refused to let me give up. He’s seen me at my lowest and by god he’s gonna see me at my best. I have a referral to be assessed for ADHD, which I think no doubt has contributed to all this. Getting specialist support will hopefully help so much in all facets of my life.

There’s a lot to look forward to and be hopeful of. I’ve started caring about my appearance and dressing how I want to dress. I’ve started going out to clubs to just dance and have a good time rather than being obsessed with making out with people and having others think I’m hot (spoiler alert - people often think I’m hot!). I’m hoping to tune into my curiosity and use that to propel myself into hobbies and interests, and to start doing it for me rather than to appear interesting and cool. And in doing so, I can start to better develop my sense of self and identity.

All the best. 💖

P.S. I’m starting to work on the London Coffee Map once again. Keep your eyes peeled.