Fighting mental exhaustion, depression and general lethargy


How long will this process take?

Some of you may not be aware, but I went through a mental health crisis a few months ago – a crisis that knocked the stuffing out of me. I can’t help but feel that I’ve been asleep ever since. Certainly my otherwise previously increasingly intense exercise regime has disappeared from existence. This is something that has got me down because prior to all of this I felt I was doing reasonably well with stuff & was ready to get back into the swing of working and living.

At present it’s all too easy to stay inside and spend the entire day on Twitter and online. But it doesn’t feel like I’m achieving anything in particular – other than perhaps a slightly more raised profile. I’d much prefer being in an environment where I’m working with lots of other motivated people towards an altruistic common goal. But where to find that El dorado.

The weather

It’s been ‘orrible of late – with the exception of the past couple of sun-filled days. Actually, it’s had a huge impact on me because it’s made it that much easier to stay in and shelter from the rain. Why go outside and do stuff when all that’s going to happen is you’ll get cold and wet? (Especially if you don’t have to). Not only that, the dark skies dampened my general mood and outlook throughout much of May and June. It’s like my mood and energy levels are solar-powered.

The football and Olympics.

As far as football tournaments go, the recent European Championships was the first tournament where I felt completely indifferent to how England performed. So much so that I was laughing at the two penalty misses in the quarter finals – a huge change from 1990, 96 or 98 when I was genuinely gutted. I simply could not – and cannot relate to the people at the top of the beautiful game these days. Following recent court cases it’s in the gutter anyway, and I don’t see the current footballing authorities as having the competence to drag it out.

As for the Olympics, well…you know my view from previous blogposts. People are making interesting comparisons with the Jubilee celebrations (where there was no brand policing) vs the Olympics, where brand policing is crushing the celebration plans of ordinary people who are not seeking to make fortunes from the whole thing. This combined with the G4S shambles and other things has led to wave-after-wave of negative publicity. Hence why the sooner the games start the better – that way it will be the competitors who will be making the headlines rather than your makers of whatever or whoever is sponsoring it.

Social media fries your brains!

And mine is in the deep fat fryer. One of my earliest posts asked when social media switches off. Because for me it’s the last thing I check at night, the first thing I check in the morning and sometimes intermittently if I cannot sleep. The other thing my older brother commented on when he came over to look after me during my breakdown was that I went into this “zone” – similar to when toddlers are watching TV. It’s just me and the gadget that I’m engaging with. I see this in others when I’m out and about too.

The biggest impact I notice is shortness of breath. There are times where I simply have to put down my phone because I feel I’ll end up headrushing. Dryness of eyes is another. Too much time in front of the screen…yet at the same time it’s as if breaking from it means breaking away from interaction with other people. This is because day-to-day I no longer have the stability of going into an office with the same group of people.

There is also the tightness of chest/intercostal muscles which in recent weeks has really started doing my head in. It’s as if I want to take a sharp instrument to them and cut them free from the bones that they are attached to. The problem for me is that the muscles that are tight feel like they are on the wrong side of my rib cage to ‘massage loose’. Hence coming up with madcap schemes in my mind of plugging my ribcage to some electrodes and frying them loose. Not that I’d do such a thing, but the frustration with the condition is doing my head in.

“I can’t get no sleep”

The problem here is having a bedroom that is main-road-facing – & not being able to completely sound-proof it in the way I would want to. Moving isn’t an option. In a nutshell it feels like I’ve not had a good nights sleep in years. It’s not just me that has issues. Baby house sparrows do too. It’s also got to the stage where people have decided to form a national anti-noise association. Should they be lining up with the CPRE (who want to protect tranquil areas) and the Ramblers (who want to ensure we all have access to them)?

It gets to the stage where I just crave being somewhere far away from the noise of road traffic and aeroplanes. Since 1998 the amount of air traffic has increased, and I‘m not best pleased with the plans for expansion either. But then it’s not as if those that benefit financially are going to be the ones living in the flight path.

Procrastination and not being able to stay still

I procrastinate with the best of them at the worst of times. All too often I’ve found myself at the stage of wanting to know about stuff without having to go through the process of learning and finding out. The books or the software are there, but sitting still for five minutes feels like an impossibility at the moment. It sort of reminds me of some of my former fellow students who, in the run up to exams would spend hours and hours in the library revising, but who would end up with seemingly similar results to me even though it felt I had not done nearly the same amount as they had.

I guess part of the problem is there’s no urgent and essential pressure to put myself through all of those things individually, nor is there a group of people who I’m working with and interacting with who are going through the same thing at the same time. It’s one of the reasons why I’d love to start a Coding Club in Cambridge. I want to get to the stage where I’m reasonably competent at it, but for some reason cannot break through that initial starting process to get the ball rolling. Hence needing people to bounce off on a regular basis.

My record with evening classes in Cambridge – or over the past few years generally has not been good at all. All too often the things I’ve enrolled in – with the exception of teacher training – have lacked energy and a real world application. I’m one of these people who likes to work towards something – so long as there’s no exam at the end of it! For example such as having constructed something, made something or even having a performance or event at the end of it. Part of my problem is straddling between having become used to London living and working versus the much smaller bubbles that exist in Cambridge – and the even smaller silos. In one sense it takes a lot more to get me stimulated as far as gatherings and events go.

So…what’s the plan for the autumn?

Well…the problem is what to plan for? This is the problem with uncertainty – it makes planning for anything very difficult. (As an aside, it’s one of the reasons why I don’t like the easy-hire-easy-fire/zero working rights employment practices that some call for, because it really messes with your head if you are in a low-paid job in unstable housing.) Much as I have a big list of stuff I want to do, realistically I won’t have the time, money or energy to fit all of it in. As for what will take the back seat, I’ll have to wait and see.



2 thoughts on “Fighting mental exhaustion, depression and general lethargy

  1. “But it doesn’t feel like I’m achieving anything in particular” There is no law that says you have to achieve at anything Puffles! Sometimes it is good to “just be”.

    Seems to me loads of us need to have some sort of regularity in our lives and we’ve gotten that from work; the workplace routine. It’s really hard for lots of people to maintain a routine when left to their own devices. We start of with good intentions and sooner or later we realise it’s all gone to pot! What about a sports club? Thought about joining a sports club that meets, plays at regular times of the week? That would help structure your week, let you slot different things on non-sports days, and maybe even give you that sense of achievement you feel you want, as your sport skills improve over time.

    Whatever you do, you’ll come up wi a good plan for you when you are ready to. I know you will.

  2. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be achieving things or getting through you list of things to do. You need to be kind to yourself to stay strong after your illness, and for that you need to give yourself a break sometimes.

    I agree with Rattlecans, joining a sports club might be good for you. It’s always good to have a bunch of people who will call you up and demand to know where you were if you bail on your regular fitness session. It’s a quick way to feeling that you belong somewhere that you’re new to or have been away from for a long time.

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